In Minneapolis public schools next fall, military recruiters won’t be able to operate without facing challenges to their lies by antiwar activists.

A resolution passed by the Minneapolis school board means that every time a recruiter comes to table, hand out pamphlets, or peruse the lunch rooms of high schools, activists will be notified and can set up counter-recruitment tables next to them. This resolution was only passed because of a sustained pressure campaign from Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR), a Twin Cities based high school group. In particular, it was a walkout of over 1,000 students last November that pushed the school board to listen to us.

The resolution is a step in the right direction, but falls short of the full demands we’ve made to the Minneapolis and St. Paul School Boards. We call for a ban on recruiters in High Schools. Magdalena Kaluza, a YAWR activist from South High in Minneapolis, said “although YAWR plans to make full use of the recent victory over recruiters, the student based organization continues to call for a complete withdrawal of military recruiters from all high schools.”

YAWR calls for recruiters out of schools as a way to cut off the feeding tube of the military. “The U.S. war machine is fueled by young, low-income, mainly of-color recruits. If a stop is put to this absurd poverty draft, the war must end,” Kaluza stated.

The methods military recruiters use to lure students are racist. They target kids of color and from lower-income households, telling them that the military will pay for their college and get them better jobs, though only 1 in 3 people get the money they are promised for college from the G.I. Bill. Veterans earn 30% less than people of non-military training of the same demographic and educational background.

Resistance is Possible!

Our success is proof that victories against the military and their big-business backers are very possible. We were able to win our democratic right to organize within schools and expand the counter-recruitment presence. We will also be able to use the victory in Minneapolis as an ex-ample to fight for further restrictions on recruiters in other school districts.

With all the candidates in the coming elections pushing for continued funding for the war in Iraq it is essential to step up the fight against these injustices and help people to recognize and combat the constant barrage of pro-war, pro-capitalist propaganda. We need to explain that when organized we can win victories.

We don’t think we should be asked to fight wars so oil barons and corporate giants can line their pockets. With gas prices nearing $4 a gallon and Vietnam-like war on the televisions daily, we can see what will happen if we stay silent and allow the richest 1% to control the schools, the military, the economy, and the country. The reforms won in Minneapolis show that it is possible for us to fight and win victories against the war machine!

Kaluza summed up our experience: “YAWR’s campaign was several years in the works before this partial victory was accomplished. The success came thanks to the passion and energy on the part of students and supportive community members. Large amounts of pressure had to be applied to the media, school administrations and the school board. More successes can be obtained by following such a pressure campaign model. We need to work hard for these victories and bring the Iraq War to an end.”