New Law Changes Opt-Out
Minors must rely on parents to be removed from H.S. lists being forwarded to military recruiters.
In 2015 Congress re-wrote section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) that provided for parents to “opt-out” of lists of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of students being forwarded by high schools to military recruiters. That legislation also allowed under-18 students to opt themselves out. When the law was passed in 2002 it contradicted FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA only provided rights to students over the age of 18. Schools were often confused. Some allowed minors to opt out by themselves and some did not.
Perhaps because of this discrepancy, Congress re-visited the legislation in 2015, calling the new law the Every Child Succeeds Act, (ESSA). Section 8025 of the new law removed the right of underage students to opt themselves out.
There has always been confusion from parents and activists across the country regarding how to remove a child’s information from lists being forwarded to the Pentagon. Both NCLB and ESSA require schools to “notify the parents of the students served by the agency of the option to make a request.” Nothing in either statute describes exactly how a school system is supposed to notify parents or identifies a particular form for accomplishing the task of opting out. Some systems were immediately proactive, produced an opt-out form, and made it available to parents. Others ignored the law.
The ESSA law says a parent of a secondary school student may submit a written request to the school that the student’s “name, address, and telephone listing” not be released to military recruiters. Upon receiving such request, the school is prohibited from releasing the information to recruiters. See Section 8025 of ESSA.
Colorado’s Weld County School District uses an opt-out form that dates back to 2008. The form is very simple and it works for the new legislation. It has parents check a box and sign a statement that says, “Do not disclose my child’s name, address, telephone number or directory information to any United State military recruiter.” The form also includes spaces for the child’s name and date. That’s it.
A letter to the principal or the child’s guidance counselor stating a parent’s desire to withhold student information from recruiters is sufficient.
Almost immediately after the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, (NCLB) in 2001, antiwar groups across the country began organizing their communities in response to Section 9528 of the law. This section provides military recruiters the names, addresses, and phone numbers of high school students provided that parents and students are given the opportunity to "opt out" of the lists being forwarded to recruiters. The law directs schools to notify parents of the right to opt out, but many schools throughout the country failed to do so. Right away, programs sprung up across the country, encouraging parents to opt out and providing forms for them to do so.
Military recruiters may contact underage high school students because school administrators have provided them
with the name, address, and phone number of students.
Parents may be able to avoid this by filling out an "opt out" form that tells the school it may not release a child's personal information to military recruiters. Opting out is a legal right prescribed by Congress. School officials must comply with all requests.
Opting out is wise because the Pentagon's data minions use the names, addresses, and phone numbers to keep track of America's youth.
Even so, the military has lots of other ways to gather information on our kids. From electronic trolling of social websites to purchasing information from yearbook and ring companies -- military recruiting services know what's in Johnny's head, if Johnny has a girlfriend, and what she thinks of his decision regarding enlistment. The laptops of local recruiters are loaded with personal information on youth. For instance, the Army's PrizmNE segmentation system combines demographic, consumer behavior, and geographic data pertaining to individual prospects. The information is merged with data from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and the result is staggering. Recruiters know Johnny reads wrestling magazines, weighs 150, can bench press 230, drives a ten year-old Chevy truck, listens to "classic rock," and enjoys fly fishing.
A lot of this information is stored in the Pentagon's little known "Joint Advertising Market Research Studies" (JAMRS) database, a massive registry of 30 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 25. It encompasses: Full name, date of birth, gender, address, city, state, zip code, e-mail address, ethnicity, telephone number, high school name, graduation date, grade point average (GPA) code, education level, college intent, military interest, field of study, current college attending, ASVAB Test date, and Armed Forces Qualifying Test Category Score.
Although there is no way to keep personal information out of the JAMRS database, the New York Civil Liberties Union provides a method for opting out. This will place information in a suppression file and make it inaccessible to recruiters. (To be clear, there are two opt-out campaigns, one pertaining to JAMRS and the other to NCLB.)
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