On December 19, over 60 students, parents, and community members poured into St. Paul’s District Administration Building, grabbing signs and lining up for comment to give the Board of Education a clear message: End military recruitment in our schools!

This presence at the Board meeting was organized by students in Central High School’s Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR), alongside youth activists in Socialist Alternative.

“It will become more and more difficult for the Board to avoid passing major reforms within Central High, and hopefully the entire district,” explained Claire Johnson, a senior at Central and member of YAWR and Socialist Alternative. Already the Board has promised to address the students’ demands at its January 23 meeting.

Central’s chapter of YAWR was launched after the 2000-strong Twin Cities antiwar student walkout in November 2005. “We have been active at Central for a year now tabling against recruiters, handing out information, setting up teach-ins, and having speakers from around the world,” said Shane Davis, a senior. “We collected over 500 student signatures demanding that military recruiters leave now.”

Recruiters set up tables almost weekly in Central’s lunchroom in an aggressive bid to lure students into the military with often-false promises of college money and job training.

“As Central High YAWR, we do not think the military should be allowed to recruit in public schools at all,” Claire Johnson told the Board. “However, we understand that the No Child Left Behind Act in effect blackmails school districts into allowing military recruiters, by penalty of cutting funding to schools whose administrations take action to ban military recruiters altogether. What we are asking of you… is that the recruiters be limited… as much as is possible within the law.” This includes restricting recruiters to the Career Center, preventing unsupervised contact with students, and restricting the recruiters to no more than three visits per year.

If the Board does not meet their demands in January, the students are discussing launching a campaign of direct action and protest to increase the pressure.

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