Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Military "Take-Over" of Local High School?

Brian Roa | The Chicago Model of Militarizing Schools

For the past four years, I have observed the military occupation of the high school where I teach science. Currently, Chicago's Senn High School houses Rickover Naval Academy (RNA). I use the term "occupation" because part of our building was taken away despite student, parent, teacher and community opposition to RNA's opening.

Senn students are made to feel like second-class citizens inside their own school, due to inequalities. The facilities and resources are better on the RNA side. RNA students are allowed to walk on the Senn side, while Senn students cannot walk on the RNA side. RNA "disenrolls" students and we accept those students who get kicked out if they live within our attendance boundaries. This practice is against Chicago policy, but goes unchecked. All of these things maintain a two-tiered system within the same school building.

This phenomenon is not restricted to Senn. Chicago has more military academies and more students in JROTC than any other city in the US. As the tentacles of school militarization reach beyond Chicago, the process used in this city seems to serve as a model of expansion. There was a Marine Academy planned for Georgia's Dekalb County, which includes 10 percent of Atlanta. Fortunately, due to protest, the school has been postponed until 2010. Despite it being postponed, it is still useful to analyze the rhetoric used to rationalize the Marine Academy. Many of the lies and excuses used to justify school militarization in Chicago and Georgia may well be used in other cities as militarism grows.

Not for Recruiting?

A favorite lie used to defend the expansion of military academies is that they are not used to recruit for the military.

"This is not a training ground to send kids into the military," Dekalb Schools' Superintendent Crawford Lewis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in March. Those same words could have come straight from Col. Rick Mills, director of military academies and JROTC in Chicago, who explained away recruitment in a similar fashion.

"This is not a recruiting tool, but a way to help students succeed at whatever career they might choose," Mills told the Chicago Tribune.

Yet military academies receive money from the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD would be derelict in its responsibilities were that money not spent as an investment in future soldiers. Accepting the claim that there is no recruiting in military academies makes about as much sense as allowing gangs to fund and operate within schools, on the assumption that they won't recruit on school grounds.

Moreover, since military academies are staffed with ex-service members (many don't even require valid teaching certificates), students are likely to receive career advice that favors a military path.

There are more blatant examples of recruiting at RNA. The cadets - the label applied to students at military academies - have taken a school-sponsored field trip to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Furthermore, last year the school hosted Adm. Michael Mullen, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen told the cadets that the Navy was a "great career choice." RNA has hosted ten admirals in their short four-year history.

In addition to these direct tactics, the academies use more insidious approaches. A military culture permeates these schools. Students dress in uniform, receive demerits, and are introduced to the military hierarchy and way of life. For example, I have witnessed students marching with fake rifles. This cultivation of a militarized mind is the best explanation for why 40 percent of all Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program graduates wind up entering military service. This statistic is especially telling, considering that less than one percent of the population has served in the military at any given moment since 1975.

The Choice Argument

Military academies are promoted as an option within the public school system for parents. We heard it from Arne Duncan (ex-CEO of CPS and current secretary of education) and we hear it from Dale Davis, public information officer for the Dekalb County School System, who calls the military school "an addition" for parents to consider. Compare that with what Colonel Mills said in December 2007 in the Online News Hour: "The purpose of the military academy programs is to offer our cadets and parents an educational choice among many choices in Chicago Public Schools and to provide an educational experience that has a college prep curriculum, combined with a military curriculum."

We must dissect what kind of "choice" parents are given. If one's only choices are a school in desperate need of repair or a shiny new military academy, parents will often "choose" the "better" school.

The unbalanced funding presents an incredibly difficult decision for many parents, as Marivel Igartua, mother of a cadet inside the Naval Academy, told me. She didn't want to have to send her daughter to RNA, but she felt squeezed into the choice because her area school was in such bad shape. The unequal allocation of resources, which favors military academies, can serve as a form of economic coercion upon parents.

If public schools were given the resources they need to improve, then we could offer parents a more real choice.

Military pushers also argue that the academies are a popular option among parents. According to Mills, quoted in In These Times in 2005, "These kinds of programs would not be in schools if there weren't kids who wanted it, parents who supported it and administrators who facilitated it."

Arne Duncan claimed there were waiting lists filled with children hoping to attend a military academy. However, CPS has never released the so-called waiting lists, and concrete numbers tell a different story. RNA's goal for student enrollment for this year was 500-600 students. RNA finished the year with 376 students. Where's the demand?

Military Academies in the Context of Dismantling Public Education

Viewing militarization in the broader scope of "school improvement" can provide a helpful lens. In Chicago, military academies often represented one offshoot of a general plan to break down public education and replace it with charter schools and contract schools, siphoning public money to business people and "nonprofits." However, these "chosen" schools don't perform any better than public schools. A recent Chicago study compared ACT scores between charter schools and neighborhood schools, and no statistically significant difference was found. There was a difference in the number of English language learners and special-needs students accepted. Charters received fewer of both students. We see the same dichotomy with Senn and RNA.

What may be more problematic is that sometimes the charterization movement masks hidden agendas Sometimes the hidden agenda is union busting. Sometimes it's gentrification. Sometimes it is militarization. We have seen all of these hidden agendas in Chicago. We all agree that public schools are in desperate need of renovation and repair. But simply demonizing public schools as failing without giving them the resources to succeed - and replacing them with experimental schools - is unjust.

The push to destroy public schools and replace them with military academies and charter schools was further facilitated under the mayoral control of schools in Chicago. Mayoral control means that a city's once publicly elected school board is replaced by mayoral appointees partial to the agenda set forth by the mayor. In Chicago, it also meant replacing the school superintendent, who was legally mandated to have public education experience, with a CEO, who is only mandated by his scruples. Duncan served as the CEO for several years. He helped administer and finish off the largest militarization of a school system in the US, under the banner of "school improvement."

If we look at the history of Chicago's "school improvement" plan, we can see the hidden agenda pushed by the charter movement. According to Pauline Lipman, writing in Substance News in 2005, it is a plan whose blueprint was ripped from the Commercial Club of Chicago, a conglomerate of Fortune 500 companies in Chicago. Schools are closed and reopened while students are shuffled around to other schools, which are often performing worse than their original school. Little regard is paid to the education of the majority of students, almost all of them poor, black and Latino/a. Simply put, Chicago's plan is not a school improvement plan. It is the dismantling of a public good for the benefit of a chosen few. School militarization was accelerated as this plan was being implemented in Chicago.

The pushing of similar plans can be expected throughout the US now that Duncan is secretary of education. With the stimulus bill's $100 billion in emergency aid for public schools and colleges, Duncan is in an incredible position of power. He could use it to promote renovation and increase resources to existing public schools. Or he could spend it on costly privatization and militarization, squandering our tax money and endangering our children's futures.


Brian Roa is a science teacher at Chicago's Senn High School and a member of CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators), a caucus in the CTU which works for equitable education for all students and against the charterization schemes in Chicago

Click on title above to see original article and a place for comments;

Friday, June 12, 2009

UN Security Council imposes tough new sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test

By EDITH M. LEDERER , Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council imposed punishing new sanctions on North Korea Friday, toughening an arms embargo and authorizing ship searches on the high seas in an attempt to thwart the reclusive nation's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The unanimous support for the resolution reflected international disapproval for recent actions by North Korea, which defied the council by conducting a second nuclear test on May 25 and heightened global tensions with recent missile launches that raised the specter of a renegade nuclear state.

North Korea has repeatedly warned that it would view new sanctions as a declaration of war, but it boycotted Friday's vote — in sharp contrast to the October 2006 Security Council meeting where sanctions were imposed after the country's first nuclear test. Then, the North Korean ambassador immediately rejected the resolution, accused council members of "gangster-like" action and walked out of the council chamber.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who shepherded the resolution through two weeks of complex and sometimes difficult negotiations, told reporters in Washington that the administration was "very pleased" with the council's "unprecedented" and "innovative" action.

She cautioned that North Korea could react to the resolution with "further provocation."

"There's reason to believe they may respond in an irresponsible fashion to this," she said.

North Korea said Monday in its main newspaper that it would respond to any new sanctions with "corresponding self-defense measures." On Tuesday, the North said it would use nuclear weapons in a "merciless offensive" if provoked.

The resolution seeks to deprive North Korea of financing and material for its weapons program and bans the communist country's lucrative arms exports, especially missiles. It does not ban normal trade, but does call on international financial institutions to halt grants, aid or loans to the North except for humanitarian, development and denuclearization programs.

China and Russia, the North's closest allies, supported the resolution, but stressed that it did not authorize the use of force against North Korea, a key demand by both countries. Diplomats said during the negotiations both countries pushed to ensure that the measures not hurt ordinary people in North Korea who face daily hardships.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called the North's repeat nuclear test "a serious blow" to efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and said the resolution was "an appropriate response," targeted at the weapons programs.

China's U.N. Ambassador Zhang Yesui said the nuclear test had affected regional peace and security. He strongly urged North Korea to promote the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and return quickly to Beijing-hosted six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear program.

The resolution demonstrates the international community's "firm opposition" to the atomic test, Zhang said, but it also "sends a positive signal" by showing the council's determination to resolve the issue "peacefully through dialogue and negotiations."

The provisions most likely to anger the North Koreans deal with searches of cargo heading to or from the country.

The resolution calls on all countries to inspect North Korea cargo at their airports, seaports or on land if they have "information that provides reasonable grounds to believe" it contains banned arms or weapons, or the material to make them.

It also calls on all 192 U.N. member states to inspect vessels carrying suspect cargo on the high seas if approval is given by the country whose flag the ship sails under. If the country refuses to give approval, it must direct the vessel "to an appropriate and convenient port for the required inspection by the local authorities."

The resolution does not authorize the use of force. But if a country refuses to order a vessel to a port for inspection, it would be violation of the resolution and the country licensing the vessel would face possible sanctions by the Security Council.

As a sign of China's uneasiness about ship searches, Zhang stressed that "countries have to act prudently, in strict accordance with domestic and international laws, and under the precondition of reasonable grounds and sufficient evidence."

Rice said the United States would "intensify our existing efforts to gather information that would allow us to determine if there is a suspect vessel on the high seas," she said.

If a vessel refuses inspection, Rice said, the United States will "shine a spotlight on it, to make it very difficult for that contraband to continue to be carried forward."

However, she said, while the U.S. will work to ensure that full implementation is achieved and "the bite is felt ... we're not going to get into a tit-for-tat reaction to every North Korean provocative act."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, urged all concerned parties "to refrain from taking any measures that can exacerbate tensions in the region and to exert their best efforts to re-engage in dialogue, including through the six-party talks," U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said.

In other key provisions, the resolution demands a halt to any further nuclear tests or missile launches and reiterates the council's demand that the North abandon all nuclear weapons, return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, allow U.N. nuclear inspections, and rejoin six-party talks.

The previous sanctions resolution imposed an arms embargo on heavy weapons, a ban on material that could be used in missiles or weapons of mass destruction and a ban on luxury goods favored by North Korea's ruling elite. It also ordered an asset freeze and travel ban on companies and individuals involved in the country's nuclear and weapons programs.

The new resolution calls on all countries to prevent financial institutions or individuals in their countries from providing financing or resources that could contribute to North Korea's "nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related, or other weapons of mass destruction-related programs or activities."

U.S. deputy ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo called the measures "innovative" and "robust."

"This resolution will give us new tools to impair North Korea's ability to proliferate and threaten international stability," she told the council.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

25 House Progressives Can End the Wars


On Monday, we said just 40 House Progressives could end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan (Af/Pak) by opposing the Pentagon's demand for another $95 billion. That's because all 178 Republicans will vote no over $5 billion for the IMF.

Nearly 10,000 of you emailed your Representatives, and 15 House Progressives responded to you by opposing the $95 billion. So now we need just 25 more.

Tell Congress: Healthcare Not Warfare

For a glimpse of the impact of U.S. bombs on the children of Afghanistan, watch this 1 minute video from our friends at BraveNewFilms:

If you have time to call Congress, pick a few from this list:
Report the response you get using the webform.

If you use Twitter, you can "retweet" four quick messages to key Members of Congress:

You can follow my tweets here:
And you can follow our action-only tweets here:

Thanks for all you do!

Bob Fertik

2. Help With Local Event for David Swanson's Book Tour

David Swanson's exciting new book is " Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union " which will be published on September 1. With help from many of you, David has scheduled events all over the country:

There is contact info for a local organizer for each event, and all could use some help. Can you email friends, distribute flyers, place notices in calendars, book interviews to promote an event, or otherwise spread the word? If so, please contact our local organizer. Thanks!

Forward this message to everyone you know!

To subscribe, create a free Democrats.com account here:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

U.S. War Funding Bill Loaded w/ Pork

U.S. war funding bill brims with unrelated extras
Mon Jun 8, 2009 5:47pm EDT

By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A $100 billion bill to fund U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is rapidly accumulating extra items such as money for military aircraft the Pentagon doesn't want and possibly a scheme to jump-start sagging auto sales.

The cars and planes are not directly linked to the U.S. war effort. But they are typical of Congress' penchant for loading bills with unrelated spending in hopes the funds will sail through on the strength of the main legislation.

President Barack Obama originally sought $83.4 billion for the two wars and more foreign aid for countries like Pakistan.

But then he too sought more -- $4 billion extra to combat H1N1 swine flu and $5 billion to back credit lines to the International Monetary Fund, which is trying to help developing countries weather the global economic downturn.

The unrelated provisions have slowed the bill down, especially for the IMF because Republicans have argued the extra items should be vetted through the normal congressional process rather than jammed into an emergency spending bill.

Fights have also erupted about add-ons for the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and an attempt to bar the release of photos of detainee abuse. While Republicans do not have the votes to block the bill, they have said they will oppose it and that forces Democrats to ensure most of their members back it.

"This supplemental was supposed to be about providing funding for our troops," one House Republican aide said. Instead, it has become a mish-mashed, taxpayer funded 'Christmas tree' bill that will propagate bad policies and unnecessary spending."

Some 51 anti-war House Democrats had opposed the bill but now are under pressure to switch to give Obama a victory. But a House Democratic leadership aide said Republicans will have to answer to constituents for opposing a war funding bill.


The House and Senate are working out differences between the two versions of the war funding bill they each approved last month and hope to pass a final, single version this week.

Congress was on the verge of giving Pakistan roughly $1 billion in the bill, but Obama last week sought another $200 million for Islamabad as it fights Taliban militants crossing its border from Afghanistan.

And lawmakers are also considering adding money for a plan to spur domestic car sales by offering up to $4,500 in vouchers for buyers to trade in their less fuel-efficient vehicles for ones that get better mileage, known as "cash for clunkers".

The White House declined to directly address adding in extra provisions, but said officials continue to work with lawmakers "about the core priorities in the legislation and hope that it can get to the president soon."

When the House and Senate originally approved their separate versions of the war bill, the White House praised lawmakers for not inserting their own pet projects in the legislation -- though some pet priorities were included.

Democratic Representative John Murtha, who heads the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, managed to get $3.1 billion for eight C-17 and 11 C-130 military transport planes included. However, that has been pared back by four C-130s.

The Pentagon did not request the aircraft but lawmakers want them to preserve jobs in their home states and Murtha disputes the military's contention that they are not needed.

A senior Democratic House aide said the requests for flu and Pakistan money were appropriate to include in the bill because they were emergency needs Obama cited. The aide also noted that Republicans in the past backed items like the IMF funds.

"This is a dangerous game Republicans are playing by jeopardizing the well-being of our soldiers to score political points," the aide said. "The supplemental will be passed, but they will have to answer for their actions if they oppose it."



Monday, June 8, 2009

Israel Behind 9/11 Attacks?

Click on title above to see the preponderance of circumstantial evidence; http://theinfounderground.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5367

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Things You Wouldnt Know if We Didnt Blog Incessantly

Click on title above to go to a great site which I have marked in my favs, you should too!

Fire Casey -- We Need a New Top Dog in the Army!

Recent headlines read -- "Army Chief Says US Ready to be in Iraq 10
Years." Did General George Casey, the Army Chief of Staff, somehow
miss the message of the Presidential election? Marcy Winograd, 36th
congressional district candidate, reminds General Casey that the
American people voted for a President who promised to get us out of
Iraq, not to prolong the agony of occupation. Winograd says -- "Fire

President Barack Obama campaigned on a plan to bring U.S. combat
forces home from Iraq in 2010 -- that's one year, not ten years,
away. In addition, the United States and Iraq have agreed that all
American forces would leave by 2012. We must demand those promises be

Fire General Casey Action Page:

Marcy Winograd, who is leading the charge on this action, is a
courageous progressive advocate, who pulled a very strong 38%
challenging Jane Harman for the Democratic congressional nomination
in CA-36, and is doing so again. With recent revelations that Harman
helped Bush get elected in 2004 by personally pressuring the NY Times
not to publish the NSA wiretap story before the election, and
Harman's complicity of knowledge and failure to act to stop the Bush
torture program, make this a MUST congressional replacement.

The return page from the action page submission link above will give
you an opportunity to make a contribution to Marcy Winograd's
campaign. Or you can use this link below to do so directly, which
provides for both ActBlue and donation by mail options.

Marcy Winograd For Congress Contributions:

General Casey claims his comments were not meant to conflict with the
President. Really? Was Casey testing the waters, taking the pulse,
waiting to see what our reaction would be to a continuous occupation?
Let's show the General and the President that we are sick and tired
of the goal post forever moving -- and we want to bring our troops
home now! Fire Casey!

Truman fired general Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War, because
MacArthur made statements that were contrary to the official position
of Washington. Is Casey speaking for Obama or not?? Is Casey a
greater and more indispensable general than MacArthur was? Either
President Obama needs to set Casey straight, or we need to set Obama
straight. So the action page below will send your message to
President Obama calling on him to fire General Casey, and it will go
to your members of Congress as well, and also your nearest daily
newspaper if that option is selected.

Fire General Casey Action Page:

There are some very deceptive things going on already with U.S. Iraq
policy, like REDRAWING the boundaries of cities so that existing U.S.
Bases are magically no longer within the city limits, as if that
makes them compliant with our agreement to remove them. These forked
tongue maneuvers must STOP. And it is our job as citizens to demand
that they do.

And yes, you can also respond to this action through the new Twitter
gateway. Just send the following Twitter reply, and add any personal
comment you like.

@cxs #p988

And if you want a step by step explanation of how to set up the
Twitter thing here is the link for that.

Twitter Activism Step-By-Step: http://tcxs.net/step_by_step.php

Paid for by Winograd for Congress 2010

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed
to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible.

If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at

Click on title above to go there

BloggersNote: Whats the big deal about getting out of Iraq? What does it matter if we have troops there, Afganistan, Pakistan, N. Korea, or anywhere else? War is war and we must not content ourselves with removing the troops from Iraq, we must END the (fake) war on terror and bring our troops home from everywhere.

The only war we support is the war to end the war on terror and to establish peace and prospairity for all Americans.

Pictures of War: A Reminder; War IS Terror

Particularly for the innocents

END the Terror END the War on Terror END all Wars
Except the War on Poverty
and Injustice

Monday, June 1, 2009

The War Prayer

THE WAR PRAYER: Perhaps author Mark Twains most important work and greatest legacy to America, nay, the world.


Below is a link where you can read the complete history of its making, its suppression until his death at the authors own request, the movie and historical significance of the poem:


Click on title above to go to THE WAR PRAYER website: