Congressional negotiators have reached an agreement that would make it easier for military recruiters to deliver their time-honored "Uncle Sam wants you" message to high school students.
Members of the conference committee working on revisions to the main federal K- 12 law approved a compromise provision last week that would require all high schools receiving federal money to fulfill requests from military recruiters for student names, addresses and phone numbers.
The new provision in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, assuming final approval by Congress and the president, would also require secondary schools that receive funding through the ESEA to allow military personnel access to their schools under the same guidelines for colleges and employers. Parents could still request that their children's personal information not be given to recruiters.
According to the Senate Armed Services Committee, officials denied military recruiters access to schools more than 19,000 times in 1999.
The effort to make it easier for recruiters to get into schools predates the recent terror attacks and the resulting U.S. military action. It has been a recurring issue in recent years, and a version of the provision was passed as an ESEA amendment in the House in May.
The amendment's sponsors wanted to help boost enlistments, which were hurt by what was until early this year a strong economy that gave high school graduates plenty of employment options.
The version passed by the House, sponsored by Rep. David Vitter, R-La., would have denied federal education aid to any school that refused to provide student contact information to military recruiters.
The compromise approved last week, while it requires schools to supply the information, does not include the potential loss of federal money for those who don't comply.
—Joetta L. Sack firstname.lastname@example.org
Vol. 21, Issue 10, Page 36