National servants

Let’s Draft Our Kids, writes Thomas Ricks, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, in a New York Times op-ed. His goal is to discourage wars by putting the children of the powerful at risk  – and to provide cheap labor for the government.

A revived draft, including both males and females, should include three options for new conscripts coming out of high school. Some could choose 18 months of military service with low pay but excellent post-service benefits, including free college tuition. These conscripts would not be deployed but could perform tasks currently outsourced at great cost to the Pentagon: paperwork, painting barracks, mowing lawns, driving generals around, and generally doing lower-skills tasks so professional soldiers don’t have to. If they want to stay, they could move into the professional force and receive weapons training, higher pay and better benefits.

Actually, mowing lawns or pushing paper on an Army base — with no chance of deployment — isn’t “military” service and won’t put anyone’s kids at risk. The military already uses civilian workers for many routine jobs to avoid wasting the time of highly trained soldiers.

Those who don’t want to serve in the army could perform civilian national service for a slightly longer period and equally low pay — teaching in low-income areas, cleaning parks, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, or aiding the elderly. After two years, they would receive similar benefits like tuition aid.

Teaching in low-income areas!?! These are teen-age conscripts with no training. For that matter, rebuilding infrastructure? With no training?

And libertarians who object to a draft could opt out. Those who declined to help Uncle Sam would in return pledge to ask nothing from him — no Medicare, no subsidized college loans and no mortgage guarantees. Those who want minimal government can have it.

Many Americans would pledge to take only minimal government help in exchange for minimal taxes, but that’s probably not what Ricks has in mind.

The high cost of finding some sort of work for unskilled 18-year-olds would be offset by providing a “pool of cheap labor” which could be loaned to states and cities, he argues. Ricks imagines unions would let $15,000-a-year (plus room and board) teen custodians do work otherwise performed by professional custodians earning $106,329, the top base salary in New York City. Those construction workers who’d otherwise be rebuilding infrastructure wouldn’t mind if draftees took their jobs.

Even if it were fair to “put millions of innocent people in involuntary servitude so that their parents would become politically active, it won’t work, writes David Henderson. Conscription won’t reduce support for war.

NYC principals want credit for grads who enlist

New York City high schools will get bonus points for graduates who go to college, but not the military, reports the New York Post. The points could raise a school’s A-F grade on the annual progress report.

When a principal asked about points for grads who choose to enlist in the armed forces, he was shot down.

“The military isn’t college. It doesn’t count,” the group was told.

In response to principals’ protests, the city education department will start gathering data on graduates who enlist in the military or enter skilled trades for a career section planned for fall, 2013.

Oklahoma may cancel graduation requirements

Oklahoma may repeal its brand-new graduation requirements for fear of high failure rates, reports the Tulsa World.

The class of 2012 is the first group of students to face the state graduation requirements created by lawmakers in 2005 as part of Achieving Classroom Excellence legislation.

Each student is required to pass four of seven end-of-instruction exams to get a high school diploma. The exams are in Algebra I and II, English II and III, Biology I, geometry and U.S. history.

Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, predicts 80 percent of legislators will support repealing the higher standards.

Even Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, a co-author of the original bill, wants to rethink the legislation. Schools haven’t been able to give students enough remedial help, she said.

Several states are backing off on higher graduation requirements, notes the Hechinger Report. Georgia eased its requirements last year, cutting the number of exams from four to one.

Other states are raising standards to ensure a passing score signifies college readiness.

New York has vowed to make its high-school graduation exams tougher after a study last year showed that even students who pass the math test may be placed in remedial math classes in college. Florida recently raised its cut-off scores on all standardized exams, including those in high school, and is developing additional end-of-course assessments.

Statistics showing that large numbers of high-school graduates are unprepared for college coursework have fueled the push to make tests more difficult. Right now, many of those who do earn a diploma must enroll in at least one remedial course in college.

Nearly a quarter of high school graduates who seek to enter the military fail the entrance exam, which tests subjects such as word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, arithmetic reasoning and general science, Hechinger reports.

All your plan are belong to us

How many different ways can I say ambivalence?  Courtesy of Educationnews.org:

The Oregon House of Representatives recently approved a bill that would make the laying out of a future education or employment plan a requirement towards a high school diploma, The Huffington Post reports. House Bill 2732 requires students to either complete and submit an application to college or internship program, enlist in the military, or attend an apprenticeship orientation workshop before they can receive a diploma.

One the one hand: “Yes!  Kids need guidance and driving everyone to college is silly.”

On the other hand: “School isn’t shouldn’t be about getting a job or going to college.  It should be about developing skills and autonomy.”

But back to the one hand: “Yes but autonomy requires an ability to plan sensibly about the future.  No one is saying that the student has to implement the plan, are they?  Just make it.”

But the other hand replies: “Then why not require all three of every student?  Why risk derailing a kid’s self-image?  Isn’t this just the slightest bit eerie?”

But the one: “It’s no worse than the silly community service requirements that we’ve got these days.”

Then the other: “That’s your argument?  It’s not a flagrant constitutional violation?  You should be able to go to school, learn, and get a diploma based on your demonstrated learning.  What you do with it is your business and your business alone.”

“Paranoid hyper-individualist.”

“Statist commie sympathizer.”

Then my hands start to hurt each other.

ROTC plus global studies

Columbia University’s faculty senate passed a pro-ROTC resolution Friday. The Army is interested in restoring ties with Columbia. A Navy unit also is a possibility.

Navy ROTC is returning to Harvard.

Stanford’s faculty is reviewing the issue. A student group is rallying opposition to bringing ROTC back on campus on grounds the military discriminates against transgendered people.

Dickinson College in Pennsylvania may expand its ROTC curriculum, if the Army agrees, to include four years of foreign language, cultural immersion, a semester or year’s worth of study abroad and a concentration in global security studies, reports Inside Higher Ed.

The move was inspired by an e-mail from a Dickinson ROTC graduate who majored in Middle Eastern history and now leads an infantry platoon in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. Talking with village elders, he recited the first chapter of the Koran, which he’d learned in a class.

Soon after, one of the men handed over five small papers which appeared to be “night letters,” or notes left by the Taliban on local mosques or the doors of homes. Typically, such letters urge resistance or threaten violence to those who cooperate with American forces. These, however, were asking for help. “The three letters this man gave to me thus signaled a major shift in Taliban morale in our area of operations, and at the end of the day became very valuable intelligence information,” the unnamed lieutenant wrote.

University president William Durden, a 1971 graduate of Dickinson’s ROTC program,  believes officers need more than training in operations and tactics. “We have young lieutenants running cities.”

The Mellon Foundation is funding partnerships between liberal arts colleges and military institutions of higher education. Dickinson will collaborate with the nearby U.S. Army War College, Bard, Union and Vassar colleges with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, St. John’s College with the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, and Colorado College with the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Bard and West Point have shared an “odd-couple relationship” for years, said Jonathan Becker, Bard’s vice president for international affairs and civic engagement.

. . . students sometimes attend classes at each other’s institutions, faculty travel to deliver guest lectures, and students and professors from both colleges mix sides to debate political issues.

West Pointers and Bard students have no trouble getting along, Becker said. “Twenty-year-olds enjoy meeting and learning with other 20-year-olds.”

Army rejects 23% of high school grads

Today’s Army won’t take all high school graduates: 23 percent of would-be enlistees flunk the academic test, reports Education Trust in “Shut Out of the Military.”

. . . 29 percent of Hispanic Army applicants and 39 percent of African Americans were found ineligible. Furthermore, when minority candidates did gain entry into the armed services, they achieved lower scores on average than their white peers. These ratings exclude them from higher level educational, training, and advancement opportunities provided by the Army.

Qualifying rates varied widely for white applicants with 27 percent of Maryland’s white high school graduates failing the test compared to 10 percent in Indiana.

Questions cover basic skills and knowledge, such as:

“If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?”

Seventy-five percent of 17- to 24-year-olds don’t qualify to take the test because they did not complete high school, are physically unfit or have a criminal record, the Pentagon reports. Ninety percent of Army enlistees are high school graduates or non-graduates who’ve earned at least 15 college credits; the other 10 percent include GED holders who score 50 or better on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test. The Army is exceeding its recruiting goal (slightly), the Pentagon reports.

From the military to college

In her years in the military, CheekyReadhead passed demanding courses on ultrasound technology, then worked on cutting-edge equipment. Hospitals were eager to hire her when she left the military. But now that she wants to earn a degree, she can’t get her military training recognized by colleges, which want her to retake classes she’s already passed. Furthermore, she can’t get an explanation of what criteria colleges are using to reject her military coursework. She writes on Team Sugar:

Colleges award degrees to anyone that can obtain a “minimal” standard while the military will only take those who excel—they choose excellence over mediocrity.

Every soldier is expected to excel in their field or they are either moved to a less technical field, reclassified or simply discharged.

. . . The civilian job market recognizes this level of achievement by simply choosing a veteran over a new grad student because they know the value of actual working experience and the dedication required to be successful in the military.

She’s campaigning for a law requiring colleges and universities to give credits for college-level military training.  I think the military is working on this for people now serving but apparently it isn’t helping veterans.

Military schools woo high-risk students

Urban districts are opening military magnets to keep high-risk students in school, reports AP. 

The Marines are talking with at least six districts — including in suburban Atlanta, New Orleans and Las Vegas — about opening schools where every student wears a uniform, participates in Junior ROTC and takes military classes, said Bill McHenry, who runs the Junior ROTC program for the Marines.

AP estimates that 5 to 10 percent of graduating seniors from public military schools end up enlisting, compared to 3 percent of all recent high school graduates.

Some students crave the structure — and the male role models — that a military program provides. Chicago, where Education Secretary Arne Duncan was superintendent, has been very open to the idea.

After San Francisco voters endorsed keeping JROTC, the school board changed its decision to kill the program, but hasn’t restored PE credit, writes Debra Saunders. That’s squeezing college-bound students out of JROTC.  Will the board restore the credit?

Fat camp for military recruits

The Army may start a fat camp to slim down overweight recruits.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, head of the Army Recruiting Command, said he wants to see a formal diet and fitness regimen running alongside a new school at Fort Jackson that helps aspiring troops earn their GEDs.

Obesity is a bigger challenge than finding recruits with adequate educational credentials, Bostick told AP.

Hot Air provides a link to Stripes: John Candy enlists to become a lean, mean fighting machine.