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The Militarization and Privatization of Public Schools. Therese Quinn. First, we portray the landscape of militarization of education through the example of Chicago Public Schools. Second, we situate the militarization of schools within the current charter school movement. Third, we explain the impact of militarization on youth and critique the view that military academies and military programs are appropriate as public education models. Fourth, with a lengthy appendix, we provide readers with tools to work against the militarization of public schools within their communities.

And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.

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His speech also failed to acknowledge the unanimous Supreme Court 1 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Brian Galaviz, Caucus of Rank and File Educators. Email: briangalaviz gmail. However, the Department of Defense DOD has long chosen not to enforce compliance with the Solomon Amendment at these restrictive access institutions. Gates, The military invests hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising and support for think tanks charged with developing recruitment strategies e.

The military relies on the availability of a specific pool of populations for recruitment. The Militarization and Privatization of Public Schools 29 group of Latin s, they still viewed the potential of college funding as a recruitment tool. This makes sense; Latin s had the lowest median household income of all groups reporting in the United States Census, and they are a group for whom the poverty rate is increasing, according to census data U. Census Bureau, Perhaps as important as the funding rhetoric, the perception that participation in the military indicates leadership and strong moral character is particularly persuasive as a recruitment strategy.

For example, in Chicago, low-income students of color and their schools are often described in disparaging terms by advocates of public military academies and other forms of privatized schools: [A] racialized discourse of failure, probation, and lack of effort constructs African American and Latino schools and communities as deficient.

The military then offers a legitimating, and available, mechanism for young people and their families to resist the stigmatizing rhetoric placed upon urban youth of color. In this theoretical article about school militarization we explore a context in which much of the recruitment and disposition-to-military-service development is likely to happen—public schools. First, we will portray the landscape of militarization of education through the example of Chicago Public Schools. Second, we want to situate the militarization of schools within the current charter school movement.

Third, we want to explain the impact of militarization on youth and critique the view that military academies and JROTC are appropriate as public education models. Fourth, we want to give the reader tools to work against the militarization of public schools within their communities. JROTC provides students with the order and discipline that is too often lacking at home.

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It teaches them time management, responsibility, goal setting, and teamwork, and it builds leadership and self-confidence. Groups of parents, students, and educators resisted its imposition in widely publicized events. Notably, it is important to identify the links between militarized education, eugenics, racism, and nationalism Berlowitz, ; Ordover, ; Selden, Today, without a national draft yet with wars with no end in sight, it is no surprise that the U.

As part of that campaign, using attractive lures—like free first-person shooter video games and often false promises of enormous cash signing bonuses or college scholarships—and with the benefit of seemingly unfettered access to places children congregate without the presence of parents or guardians, the military is refining its youth recruitment activities by targeting public education Houppert, ; Medina, For example, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery ASVAB , a multiple-choice test used to determine eligibility for enlistment, is integrated and used in schools as a recruitment tool Anderson, This list identifies a range of issues that reinforce a particular form of hegemonic masculinity and the recruitment of female students to this ideology Anderson, In what follows we look closely at connections between military public schools and the charter school movement.

Militarization and the Charter School Movement Across the United States, school choice is posited as a public response to an ineffective and bureaucratic public education system. Through choice-based reforms, parents are repositioned as consumers who must select the best educational option for their child. Key to this discursive and material turn is that what is public money-sucking schools, slothful teachers is cast as an artificial and wasteful monopoly, while what is private quality through competition is presented as a natural and economical good Lubienski, Yet, school choice, including the push to offer military schools within choice systems, must be interpreted through larger economic shifts that have reframed the public sphere in the United States and subsequently altered the landscape for those not in the majority.

These shifts are lived and felt at the local and personal levels as well as at the structural level, and militarization is neatly erased within these shifts. Charter schools, for example, are a key component of neoliberal, or privatizing, educational restructuring. The CSM couches its push for charters in the rhetoric of free market choice and accountability for teachers, parents, and students, but never governments.

At first glance, accountability and choice are uncontroversial, and blaming teachers seems an easy way to shift attention from structural and systemic social problems. A problem with the CSM is that it, and the wider logic of free market choices, masks other motives and consequences, including privatization, gentrification, union busting, and the push for high-stakes testing.

For example, in DeKalb, 4 It is beyond the scope of this paper to fully analyze the rhetoric and hidden agendas present in the CSM. In Chicago, Colonel Rick Mills, Chief Area Officer of Area 26 formerly known as the Military Area Office , has made similar claims: [T]he purpose of the military academy programs is to offer our cadets and parents an educational choice among many choices in Chicago public schools and to provide an educational experience that has a college prep curriculum, combined with a military curriculum.

Brackett, In these discussions, choice appears benevolent. Once RNA was established inside of Senn, previously non-functional science labs were revamped and remodeled, while some teachers, including Galaviz, taught with no science lab at all. This choice can be agonizing for parents, as Marivel Igartua, mother of a cadet inside the Naval Academy, expressed to Galaviz M.

Igartua, personal communication, November 15, She did not want to have to send her daughter to RNA, but felt pushed into that decision because her area school was in such bad shape.

Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools

The unequal allocation of resources, in which military academies are favored over older community schools, is a form of economic coercion, forcing parents and students to make the rational choice of the adequately funded alternative over an obviously neglected school. Militarization promoters in Chicago make the additional claim that military academies are not simply a choice for parents, but that they are a popular choice and, specifically, that parents demand these academies.

These claims are not substantiated and to our knowledge CPS has never released these waiting lists, despite repeated requests that they do so. Furthermore, examining enrollment in the military academies can shine light on this claim. At the beginning of the year in , they had students. They finished the year with students Roa, These numbers contradict the claims made by Mills and Duncan.


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Military academies are framed to be one option for parents to consider, and in fact, a very popular option. Yet, more research is needed to determine why parents and guardians choose to send their children to these schools. Choice privatizes educational decision-making and frames the issues at stake as private, not public. Classification as private absolves the community and government from assuming responsibility for the inequities.

Rather than the state needing to reallocate public resources, the educational choice movement reframes the public sphere through choice and personal responsibility. Within this framework military schools are presented as the best choice for youth in need of discipline-building and safety, neatly eliding the reality that inequitable structures and state abandonment produce and shape this artificial crisis of scarcity—of resources, safety, and rich curriculum—within the public schools. Notably, military schools and JRTOC programs most frequently are offered to and accepted by low-income communities of color—the communities that have been and are still offered the least schooling resources Lipman, Transportation, resources, and high-stakes entrance exams remove certain options, for example college preparatory and arts-rich schools, from the pool of choices for members of these communities.

On the surface, the options offered youth and parents appear race and class neutral: College preparatory or military program? You make the choice. But military programs are not offered and do not flourish in wealthy and white communities, as noted at the start of this article.

Yet the logic of choice functions to mask these differences, allowing the seemingly race and class neutral terms of choice and discipline to be advanced by key policymakers, and then used to promote military schools. For example, in Chicago, Mayor Daley and others argue for the need for military schools by tapping into racialized fears when they describe the needs of some youth, but not all, for discipline and order.

This logic is neither required nor ventriloquated by wealthier and whiter communities. The charterization of public schools and the outsourcing of public education and discipline to the military trade on similar practices of constructing particular identities as dangerous or wasteful recipients of public resources. For example, charters often hire using only yearly contracts, while teachers employed by traditional schools are protected by unions, which are increasingly presented as inflexible and costly. Also reproducing myths and stereotypes, military-themed schools are portrayed as essential because urban youth of color are undisciplined, unruly, even dangerous, and need to be controlled Lipman, ; Montefinise, ; Quinn, Using scapegoats to reshape the public sphere is an old tactic in the United States.

From welfare to public education, demonizing recipients is one clear way to call into question the legitimacy of a public institution or program and to assert the importance of market-driven regulation and oversight Duggan, ; Quadagno, For example, popular stereotypical tropes include the beliefs that urban kids need military style discipline and unions are for lazy workers, thus legitimating particular institutional and state practices. Finally, the militarization of public schools cannot be separated from larger economic and cultural practices that shape our lives and political processes.

From toys to entertainment and from fashion to video games, militarization is naturalized throughout our popular cultural contexts. Militarization is both our response to conflict and how we live, as Eisenhower identified in , when he warned against a military industrial complex, or permanent war economy. Gilmore reminds us that Eisenhower, in coining the term military industrial complex, aimed to highlight the problem of the widespread dominance of the military in economic, cultural, and political spheres: [Eisenhower] warned that the wide scale and intricate connections between the military and the warfare industry would determine the course of economic development and political decision making for the country, to the detriment of all other sectors and ideas.

In addition to pay inequalities, JROTC instructors also receive special treatment regarding class size. However, this law is not always enforced. That means three instructors teach fewer than the required students. This culture of preferential treatment and additional resources results in JROTC classes that look and feel, to students and parents, more appealing and safer than the resource-starved neighborhood schools and classrooms. For access to these documents, readers may contact Jesus Palafox at jpalafox afsc.

More broadly than direct recruitment, these programs cultivate and naturalize a military, rather than civilian, culture. Young people are introduced to the military hierarchy and way of life—a military culture that is encompassing.

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They are offered sharply tailored formal uniforms and comfortable casual uniforms; their goals are to achieve ranks, Private or Corporal; and students in these programs are called names that signal status and value—cadet and soldier. While JROTC promotes enlistment as a way to access college funding, military service can be described as a false pathway to college and other postsecondary benefits. For example, the many conditions which must be met to receive and utilize the promised postsecondary benefits means they are not truly guaranteed, and in the past, this has resulted in many veterans finding out too late that they were not going to receive the college financial aid they expected.

More research is needed to understand similar trends with the new GI Bill. In the last twenty years alone, some of the higher profile incidents have included the admission that sergeants were regularly raping female trainees at the Aberdeen Proving Ground; the testimonials of Beth Davis and other women who were sexually assaulted at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado throughout the s; the disclosures of many women in uniform and private contractors in Iraq that they have been raped, are afraid to use the bathroom at night for fear of sexual assault by their co-workers, and more Chen, ; Enloe, ; Harman, ; Houppert, The military, despite its history as an affirmative action employer and one of the first government branches to desegregate, continues to deny and minimize this epidemic of gender and gendered violence.

Serving in the military is also hazardous in other ways.

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