San Francisco Voters Go on Record Against Recruitment

By Mary Ann Zehr — November 15, 2005 2 min read

San Francisco voters approved a nonbinding ballot measure last week that opposes, but doesn’t ban, military recruiting in the city’s public schools and colleges.

Proposition I, which garnered a 60 percent majority Nov. 8, states that city policy opposes such recruitment in schools, and says that the city should investigate ways to pay for college scholarships and job training for low-income students “so they are not economically compelled to join the military.”

Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Defense, said federal laws giving military recruiters access to public schools would override any such measure.

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Two of the city’s teachers’ unions, United Educators of San Francisco, which is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and the affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers that represents educators at City College of San Francisco, endorsed the measure. College Not Combat, a coalition that included some groups opposed to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, pushed to get the measure on the ballot.

Dennis Kelly, the president of United Educators of San Francisco, said the union’s support of the proposal fit with its long-standing tradition of protecting student privacy.

Communicating to All

He added that he hoped the statement of opposition to military recruitment in schools would help create momentum for citizens to organize for a change in federal laws that give military recruiters the right to visit schools. Mr. Kelly said the union didn’t specifically endorse the claim in Proposition I that a “de facto ‘economic draft’ forces tens of thousands of low and middle-income students to join the military in order to get money to go to college or get job or technical training.”

Col. Krenke said military recruiters don’t target students from a particular economic class. “The services communicate their recruiting messages to all elements of the population to make sure everyone knows what the U.S. military has to offer,” she said.

Officials from the San Francisco school district didn’t return a phone call seeking comment on issues of military recruitment.