The New York Times seems very concerned that too many kids are learning about discipline, patriotism, leadership, civics, and financial literacy. Such lessons are dangerous to the Left’s mission.
But 50 years later, new conflicts are emerging, as parents in some cities say their children are being forced to put on military uniforms, obey a chain of command and recite patriotic declarations in classes they never wanted to take.
In Chicago, concerns raised by activists, news coverage and an inspector general’s report led the school district to backtrack this year on automatic JROTC enrollments at several high schools that serve primarily lower-income neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides. In other places, the Times found, the practice continues, with students and parents sometimes rebuffed when they fight compulsory enrollment.
JROTC classes, which offer instruction in a wide range of topics, including leadership, civic values, weapons handling and financial literacy, have provided the military with a valuable way to interact with teenagers at a time when it is facing its most serious recruiting challenge since the end of the Vietnam War.
High school principals who have embraced the program say it motivates students who are struggling, teaches self-discipline to disruptive students and provides those who may feel isolated with a sense of camaraderie. It has found a welcome home in rural areas where the military has deep roots but also in urban centers where educators want to divert students away from drugs or violence and toward what for many can be a promising career or a college scholarship.
And military officials point to research indicating JROTC students have better attendance and graduation rates, and fewer discipline problems at school.
There are plenty of classes that are required in school that do a far worse job of teaching anything. We’d be a better society if more kids stuck with JROTC even if they never enter the military.