PORTLAND — The Portland school board on Monday was set to adopt a policy that gives anti-war “counter-recruiters” the same access to high school students that the military gets.
The policy is like those already in place in Seattle, San Francisco and some other cities, the Oregonian reported.
“What we want is a balanced account of military service,” said school board member Matt Morton, one of at least four board members supporting the policy.
Beginning in 1995, the Portland school board banned military recruitment in schools, primarily because of the military’s discrimination against gays. But in 2001, the federal No Child Left Behind law required that military recruiters get the same access to public high school campuses and to students’ addresses and home phone numbers that college recruiters do.
“We have difficulty making inroads to even get into those Portland schools,” said Lt. Col. Cary Miller, chief operations officer for Oregon Army National Guard recruiting. “My recruiting force is a professional force. They’re not going to step out of line or lie to kids.”
The War Resisters League, Veterans for Peace and other groups hold regular sidewalk protests outside Portland high schools, said John Grueschow, coordinator of the Resisters League’s military and draft counseling programs.
“We feel that, since the military is required to be let in there, there should be some response,” Grueschow said. “We should have the same opportunity they do to present students information.”
The board planned to ask district staffers to prepare an information packet for distribution at every high school to tell students about military recruiting tactics, their right to have their contact information withheld from the military and other post-high school options for students to serve their country.