Starbase questions the school board should ask
February 10, 2010 9:43 pm
I know we’ve got a couple of peaceniks (term used respectfully and admiringly) on the school board right now, one who hasn’t voted on Starbase before (Gonzalez) and the other who is now co-chair (Adkins). It’s safe to say they had a lot to do with pulling the vote on next year’s Starbase contract from the board agenda Monday night. It would be a great opportunity for them to pull together the two other votes needed to scrap this program.
Here’s what I sent to the whole board about this opportunity:
Word is that Deputy Superintendent Charles Hopson, who has been outspoken about the PPS high school system as “a civil rights violation of the worst kind,” will answer board questions before you vote on continuing Starbase.
Here are some questions the board — and Hopson — should be asking:
- Is it not also a civil rights violation that black, brown and poor children are specifically targeted for military recruiting at extremely young ages?
- What is the precise demographic breakdown (ethnicity and poverty level) of students participating in Starbase? Why are Title I schools over-represented?
- What student information is shared with the military?
- Is it legal to share information about pre-teens with the military without explicit parental permission?
- If parents choose to pull their children from this program, is their information still shared with the military?
- How are families notified of this program?
- Can families opt out of both the program and the information sharing? How are parents informed of these options?
- Do counter-recruiters have equal access to participating students?
- Assuming the curriculum is great (and non-military), why can’t it be incorporated into the normal classroom science and math curriculum and taught by existing classroom teachers? (In other words: Why does it need to be taught on a military base, and what’s the advantage of having the extra staff to teach it when it doesn’t free up classroom teachers to work with other students? )
- How does exposing students to large-scale, highly advanced weapons square with the district’s zero tolerance policy on weapons?
Once we’re satisfied with the answers to these questions, it might be interesting to find out more about the curriculum.
Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.