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Beyond Chron
December 12, 2007

Copyright © 2007 Marc Norton

Five members of the San Francisco School Board voted last night to extend JROTC for a year. They pretended to act on the request of the JROTC Task Force for more time to work on an "alternative" to JROTC. In fact, they are taking their marching orders from the Pentagon. Only Eric Mar and Mark Sanchez had the moxie to say no to the war-makers.

Beyond Chron has obtained copies of the meeting notes of the JROTC Task Force through early October. Our review of these notes reveals that the task force is actually in the business of blocking the creation of any alternative to JROTC -- the exact opposite of its mandate. Their request for more time is as phony as a three-dollar bill.

Reliable sources tell us that Sanchez admits that the board was "played" by the task force.

The School Board voted in November 2006 to phase out JROTC, and to create a task force to look for an "alternative." Then, for five long months, from November through April, nothing happened. There was no task force, no meetings, nothing.

The task force was finally convened by school district officials for the first time, on April 17 -- chosen in secret, and meeting completely outside of any public view. The task force was a collection of JROTC instructors (all retired military officers), school district bureaucrats and a couple of students. There was only one identifiable opponent of JROTC, a relatively mild-mannered gentleman from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

At this meeting, the group fumbled around with some discussion about their mission and various "protocols," and then adjourned for a month.

When they met again, on May 16, one of their first orders of business was to vote on whether to meet once or twice a month. They opted 9-0 to meet once a month, obviously not in any big hurry. They also confirmed that their meetings would remain closed to the public.

Next, a Col. Powell offered that they were "developing a survey" of JROTC students. They heard a presentation from former JROTC cadet Daniel "Jane Kim needs to die" Chin. They spent a lot of time discussing whether or not JROTC instructors were certified to teach physical education (PE) classes for credit, groused about the financial impact of expanded PE classes, and then adjourned for another month.

By their third meeting, on June 29, they were already complaining about not having enough time. "At the rate we are going - we will surely need more time," say the meeting notes. They also had "a discussion... regarding lack of attendance."

At this point -- the school district and the task force having done next-to-nothing to look at alternatives to JROTC for over seven months -- a motion was made to ask for a one-year extension. The motion passed 6-1.

The task force then adjourned for two months.

At their next meeting, on August 29, they had a "discussion of what surveys are available to survey students," produced a "timeline" for their work incorporating their proposed extension of JROTC, and revised the language of the proposed board resolution for the proposed extension.

They met again on October 3. This is the last meeting for which we have notes. They worked again on the "wording on the time line." The student survey had apparently not been sent out yet, as they were still discussing what questions to ask.

Having exhausted themselves with complaining about not having enough time to do their job, they finally had a couple of presentations about possible "alternative" programs. First, they heard a presentation by a retired SF police officer who teaches a "police" class at a charter school. The teacher himself stated that "he does not believe his class would work as a replacement for the JROTC programs."

They next discussed a class taught by a captain in the San Francisco fire department. The task force then left it to the AFSC member to get hard copies of the curriculum from these two programs.

They concluded this meeting with a "closing conversation," including a comment from the AFSC member that "we do not seem to be very close to having a replacement program." No kidding, Sherlock.

And so it goes. At the rate this task force is going, they will need an extension for a decade, not a year.

For all the talk about JROTC teaching "leadership," the task force set up to find an alternative has shown no leadership at all -- unless you call diddling and dallying "leadership." That seems to match just fine the kind of leadership that we see from the majority of the school board.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau: "...most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders, serve the State chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God."

It is unlikely that Thoreau, writing in 1849,
had school board members Jane Kim,
Kim-Shree Maufaus, Hydra Mendoza,
Jill Wynns and Norman Yee
in mind.
But he nonetheless described them perfectly.

Except, maybe, for the part about not "intending it."

JROTC and military recruitment --
and the fightback.