Questions About JROTC Military Academies

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If a military/JROTC program or military academy is starting up or already running in your community, begin raising questions. Teachers and parents at the school may share your concerns. Meet with the principal, teachers' union representatives, student groups, or school board members and challenge them to consider what tradeoffs have been made, whether a quality program is being provided, and whether the program treats all students fairly and with respect.

Questions about tradeoffs: What did the school give up to get this program?

  • How much school or school district funding is going into military programs this year? Next year? Future years? What else could have been bought with that funding?
  • How much federal/military funding are the programs receiving each year?
  • Have other programs in the school or district experienced budget cuts recently (e.g., music, sports)?
  • What contributions is the program getting from the private sector? Might those same resources have been available for a non-military program?
  • What other electives or special programs might students be enrolled in if JROTC wasn't there?
  • What was the space the academy or program occupies used for previously? What effect does it have on the space needs of the school's other programs?
  • Are jobs normally held by union members being filled by non-union, retired military personnel?

Questions about educational quality: Are students gaining essential knowledge and skills?

  • How was the curriculum for the program developed? Who has evaluated it?
  • What is the normal procedure for the introduction of a new curriculum or text? Was it followed for the JROTC classes? Does the curriculum meet accepted standards?
  • Specifically, is the content of the program consistent with the school's standards and regulations around issues of diversity, violence, and conflict resolution? Is marksmanship a component of the curriculum?
  • How are the outcomes (e.g., academic performance, behavior, graduation and dropout rates, post-graduation success) for JROTC students being measured and evaluated?
  • How do credential requirements for the military instructors compare to those for other teachers?
  • Do courses count toward college entrance requirements? Are they academically challenging, college preparatory classes?

Questions about equity: Are students being treated fairly?

  • What does it mean to call JROTC a program for "at-risk youth?" Who can participate? Is the program closed to students who don't meet minimum standards for academics and behavior?
  • Do special education students and students with disabilities have full access to the activities, resources, and classes of the the program, whether or not they meet the qualifications for JROTC?
  • Can openly lesbian or gay students participate in the program? Can they qualify for all the benefits available to other students (e.g., military-funded college scholarships)?
  • Can immigrant students who are not US citizens participate?
  • Do female students have female instructors in the academy to serve as role models or mentors?
  • If the program has access to special facilities (like a computer lab or modern gym facilities), are these available to students who cannot or do not choose to be part of the JROTC program?
  • Do participants in the program, who will receive encouragement to pursue careers in the military, also receive adequate counseling and encouragement to pursue college, other career training, and non-military career options?
  • Is the academy free from incidents of hazing and other forms of violence and harassment?
  • Are students required to take JROTC or is it completely voluntary? Do they have to opt-out of enrollment or are they only enrolled upon request?

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