Rainbow Push questions military recruitment policies in schools - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rainbow Push questions military recruitment policies in schools

The debate over public school military recruitment is gaining more attention with troops in Iraq and the Gulf Coast.

President Bush's No Child Left Behind program is aimed at helping students succeed in school.  However, many people do not realize that the program also requires high schools to give military recruiters the names, addresses and telephone numbers of students.

One Mid-South group is launching a new push to make sure parents know their options. 

"We don't think the schools should be a basis for a recruiting ground for our military," said Memphis Rainbow Push Vice President Joseph Kyles. 

The act requires that both public and private schools release personal information of high school seniors for military recruitment, in exchange for funds.

Many school systems like Shelby County begin their school year millions of dollars in the red, so the funds make a difference. 

"We need every penny we can get, but I would say the opt out option has always been in place, so that's not jeopardizing any funding," explained Shelby County Schools spokesperson, Mike Tebbe. 

He says that Shelby County put opting out information in their handbook and sent a letter to parents, but Rainbow Push is getting word parents are not aware of it and that it is an invasion of privacy. 

The military disagrees.  "Invasion of privacy?  I don't think so.  You have telemarketers calling people all the time and if you're not interested you tell them you're not interested and that's the way we conduct business," said U.S. Army Recruiter Sergeant Michael Mitchel.

Kyles is helping to launch a door-to-door campaign next week to announce a series of town hall meetings.  He said it is a push to reach out to the community so parents are aware of the opting out process. 

At the town hall meetings, Rainbow Push will give parents opt out forms that they can fill out and give to their school systems.  They said they're trying to help those who can't help themselves. 

"We have a voluntary Army.  We want to make sure it stays a voluntary Army," said Kyles.

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