JROTC has no place at Shortridge

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Disclaimer: opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any official position or policy of the Shortridge Daily Echo or of Shortridge High School

Mr. O’day, our principal, announced to the freshman class on Tuesday that Shortridge would be offering JROTC, or Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp. Upon hearing this, I was absolutely shocked, since I thought that Shortridge would never house that program ever again. Now, at this point, you may be wondering why this makes me so upset.  The reputation of the program is fairly good and it is famous for creating “better citizens”. Or, you may be wondering, what is JROTC anyway? To answer either question I need to explain.

JROTC is a program run by the U.S. military that is essentially a military training program in high school. In it you learn to drill, march and exercise along with militarized versions of history, civics and health and wellness. On top of this, it is also the Pentagons biggest unofficial recruiting tool. Although JROTC’s supporters deny it, the program does aim to positively portray every action of the U.S. military to young, susceptible high school students. As a direct result of the Military shown as good and fun, it creates a situation where 40 percent of all students enlist in the United States military, with more in reserve or national guard, as opposed to 0.4% of all Americans, including those that don’t do JROTC. These students disproportionately join the armed forces. The Army itself, which is always repeating the misleading mantra of “not recruitment” on their website even says “Though not a recruiting program, the expansion of Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs . . . may help motivate young Americans toward military service.” That doesn’t sound like something that isn’t brainwashing kids to go to kill for the Pentagon.

The program argues its goal is to promote teamwork, leadership and hard work, but on top of this they argue the agenda of a the Pentagon: violence and war. It is in the Army’s interest that people support the wars it’s fighting, and in these “civics” and “history” courses it offers, it teaches exactly that. As JROTC say in their video on the website, “We want them to understand the country and what its about”. It has been accused by many of teaching about war in a manner that glorifies it and trivializes the grave human losses that come from it.

On top of this, the also teach military skills like marksmanship, with guns that actually shoot. Although the guns do not fire live rounds, this creates a situation where guns are legally inside schools, and where students that carry weapons are honored for it. We do not want people to be encouraged to see guns as good and honorable. Guns inside schools are agreed to be dangerous and a bad idea, yet JROTC purposefully provides these weapons, and allows students to use them on school grounds. Besides injuries, we do not want more encouragement of violence on our grounds.

Finally, JROTC claims they provide structure to its many (mostly students of color) “cadets”. It gives them an organization to belong to and keeps them out of drugs and gangs. However, there have never been any statistics that prove this benefit, and even if there were, it would be almost pointless. Shortridge has dozens of complex, organized student groups, many of whom actually improve their community instead of senselessly advocating violence. These all prove a better alternative to JROTC. I hope the school administration takes note of this article and stops the madness of putting JROTC in Shortridge.