NYCLU Unveils Campaign to Defend Students' Rights

September 23, 2005 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States


NEW YORK -The New York Civil Liberties Union launched a major campaign today to arm students with tools to resist unwanted and intrusive recruitment on their school grounds and in their homes.

The new school year brings a new recruitment season for the military. Recruiters are taking advantage of a little-noticed provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that gives recruiters unprecedented access to schools and requires schools receiving federal funds to turn over student contact lists. In an effort to comply with the law, schools are also affording recruiters unprecedented access to their campuses. The NYCLU’s campaign will help students fight these invasions of their schools and their privacy.

“”The military is setting its sights on vulnerable groups of young people as it tries to meet the demands for more soldiers to fight an increasingly unpopular war,”” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “”We send our children to school for an education, not to become military targets. Unfortunately, No Child Left Behind has become the excuse for an aggressive military to turn schools into recruiting grounds. The NYCLU seeks to ensure that they respect the privacy rights of children and don’t interfere with education.””

As part of its campaign, the NYCLU will begin distributing a new fold-out palm card entitled No Student Left Unrecruited? outside high schools in New York City today. The card outlines students’ rights and provides a tear-off form that students can submit to their schools to remove their names from the recruiting lists sent to the military.

Other aspects of the campaign include:

  • a new NYCLU military recruiting Web site, accessible at containing student rights information, forms and legal information to help students and their advocates protect students’ rights;
  • a confidential complaint center where students, parents and educators can report abusive recruiting tactics;
  • plans to contact every New York State schools superintendent and the state Department of Education to urge them to replace ineffective parental “”opt-out”” procedures that leave virtually no child unrecruited, with an instant opt-out form that allows students to remove themselves from the lists;
  • a series of meetings with the New York City Department of Education;
  • a series of Freedom of Information Act requests seeking public disclosure of recruiting policies and practices, including complaint procedures and mechanisms for students to get off the lists;
  • a program to monitor schools’ compliance with the legal requirement that groups interested in offering students alternatives to military service be given equal access to the schools.

Since No Child Left Behind became law, students, parents and educators have complained of intimidation, deception and heavy-handed tactics by military recruiters. In some schools, recruiters have made themselves a regular presence, making weekly visits and confronting students aggressively. Military marketing materials specifically target students of color.

The NYCLU praised the New York City Department of Education for revising its procedures to better protect student privacy as schools comply with military requests for student lists. New York City is one of the first school districts in the nation to adopt a student opt-out scheme that permits students themselves to withhold their contact information from the military recruiters by filling out a form in the classroom. The NYC DOE has also agreed to give students and their parents more time to exercise the opt-out this year, extending the opt-out period through mid-October, and to give them the option again at the beginning of each year.

“”We are pleased the DOE has adopted a student opt-out that should better protect students from involuntarily disclosure of their contact information to the military,”” said Lieberman. “”The NYCLU will be monitoring the new procedures and remains deeply concerned that military recruiters have been given extraordinary access to students in some schools, well beyond what is required by the law. And we will assist non-military recruiters in gaining equal access to the schools to present students with non-military employment alternatives.””

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Smart Justice

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Smart Justice

Smart Justice issue image

The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50% and to challenge racism in the criminal legal system.