Starbase speech to the PPS school board
March 13, 2010 3:00 pm
here is the speech i gave Monday, March 8:
Good evening. I am Nancy Ellen Rawley, the mother of two students, a 2nd and a 5th grader at North Portland school. I am co-publisher of PPS Equity.org and a PPS employee. I am also a member of PFTCE. But tonight I am here as my kids’ mom. Happy International Women’s Day.
As we like to say when we start these things out:
All power to the people.
I am here this evening to protest Starbase, a military recruitment program aimed at children kindergarten through 12th grade. Starbase has partnered with PPS for 17 years and pays the district more than $300,000 annually in exchange for access to our children. The program is held on a military base – the children are taken there, by bus, for five full days.
My daughter’s class will attend in April; our family is boycotting. She is not being offered an alternate curriculum. Her school has not sent home a packet or planned a parent information night, although I have requested. I had to ask three times before I was given the tentative dates. The only reason I knew about it was from another parent. I first heard about the program, however, when Winterhaven parents protested Starbase in 2006.
I was told by my children’s principal to stop asking questions about Starbase. Our principal has stated that it is not “military recruitment,” but rather a science and engineering opportunity, that our school does not have the money for science and engineering classes and that we need Starbase.
Our school has science partnerships with both Xerox and the University of Portland. Also, the children are taught science and math by their extremely capable teachers in class. Our school last year did not spend $31,476 of their allotted Title I money. We do not need Starbase. When a principal, and a school district, acts this way toward a parent – you are not just yanking my chain. You’re acting as if I have no brain.
I should not have to defend my family’s beliefs – we are pacifists – or try to convince you that it’s immoral – and possibly illegal — for PPS to accept this money. Why does Starbase want our kids? The military needs soldiers. They are sending people for 2, 3, 4 tours. If they come home, they are often suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress and other health problems, and they are committing suicide at greater rates than ever. Starbase is aimed at poor kids, non-white kids, vulnerable kids. The majority of schools that participate are low-income, with what are termed “high-risk” students.
Also – we’re at war. With Iraq and Afghanistan. Is it smart to have children – or any civilians – on military bases at this time?
I’d like to ask you: Can a sister get a witness, please? Thank you.
Nancy Rawley was co-publisher of PPS Equity. She blogs regularly at Wacky Mommy.