PPS Board approves controversial STARBASE program
Tonight's vote will ensure that high school students have access to counter recruiters.
PORTLAND, OR October 24, 2011- Last week, the PPS Board of Education voted to approve a $300,000 revenue contract for STARBASE, a 25 hour "educational" program funded out of the Department of Defense recruitment budget. Tonight they are expected to pass a resolution to allow high school students access to counter recruiters. Puzzled by the apparent double standard, parents who oppose STARBASE will be distributing a flyer with the following information at tonight's meeting. They will continue to work to end the STARBASE program.
"We oppose the militarization of our children through a science curriculum," says Jessica Applegate, mother of two PPS students who has organized against STARBASE since 2006. "This program is funded out of the Department of Defense recruitment budget and takes place on military bases. At a minimum we want PPS to inform parents about the real nature of STARBASE."
What is STARBASE?
- A 25 hour, math, science, technology program for fourth and fifth graders required to take place on a military base.
- School board members have equated it with outdoor school- following that logic -it is military school.
- 1.5 hours of the program is an overview of careers available in the military.
- Paid access for the grooming of our youngest citizens to entice them and soften the image of the military for future recruitment in the military.
Is it recruiting?
- "The committee believes that, over time, this program will increase the technical skills required for military service and increase interest in military service for many participants." (Original congressional funding committee)
US Army Recruiting Handbook, " Remember first to contact, first to contract...that doesn't just means seniors or grads; it means having the army perceived as a positive career choice as soon as young people begin to think about the future. If you wait until they're seniors it's probably too late."
SAY NO TO STARBASE :
What about the PPS No Weapons Policy?
- PPS has a zero tolerance for weapons.
- In recent years PPS suspended a third grader for bringing a four inch plastic gun to school.
- Photographs from the STARBASE site show students on F-15 fighter jets and tanks.
- Students encounter weapons such as the M101A1 105mm Howitzerwith "APOCALYPSE" painted on it that is seen at the entrance to the base.
What kind of information do parents receive about military recruiting and STARBASE? Is counter-recruitment information available?
- Many parents and students are unaware that STARBASE takes place on a military base and is a recruitment program.
- On October 24, 2011 the PPS School Board will vote on RESOLUTION No. 4503 Providing Equal Access to Military Counter-Recruiters in High Schools. There is no equivalent Resolution that mandates a disclosure statement about STARBASE or access to counter recruitment information for middle and elementary school students and their parents.
Does STARBASE disproportionally target low income students?
- Yes. The STARBASE Vision statement reads: "To raise the interest and improve the knowledge and skills of at-risk youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which will provide for a highly educated and skilled American workforce that can meet the advanced technological requirements of the Department of Defense."
In March of 2010, a vote to approve the 2009-10 STARBASE budget drew protests. PPS board member Bobbie Regan testified about her visit to STARBASE. She said that she saw no evidence that students were exposed to uniformed officers at weapons. Yet, photos from the STARBASE site featured students on F-15 fighter jets which are classified as weapons, and other photos of students with military personnel in uniforms.
Public dialogue continued for months after the March 2010 vote, with articles in major newspapers, letters to the editor and other editorial columns. The protests apparently got the attention of the Pentagon, as Pentagon employee and STARBASE founder, Barbara Koscak, visited Portland National Guard Air Base when a reporter scheduled a visit.
The schools that have fifth-grade classes attending the 25-hour, 5-day Starbase classe are:
Capitol Hill (K-5)
Chief Joseph (PK-5)
Vestal (K-8)Alder Elementary (K-5) (Reynolds School District)
Forest Park (K-5)
Damascus Christian (Private Christian School, K-12)
PPS Non-discrimination Policy:
Portland Public Schools recognizes the diversity and worth of all individuals and groups and their roles in society. It is the policy of the Portland Public School Board that there will be no discrimination or harassment of individuals or groups on the grounds of age, color, creed, disability, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation in any educational programs, activities or employment.
from the PPS Weapons Policy:
Portland Public Schools Policy specifies that possession or use of a firearm is prohibited on district property, at a school function (on or off campus) or interscholastic event. Board Policy 3.040.014-P
Portland Public Schools Policy specifies that possession or use of a deadly weapon is prohibited on district property, at a school function (on or off campus) or interscholastic event. Board Policy 3.040.014-P
US Military Army Recruiting Command Handbook on School Recruiting
Excerpt page 3:
"School recruiting is critical to both short term and long term recruiting success. Remember, first to contact, first to contract...that doesn't just mean seniors or grad; it means having the Army perceived as a positive career choice as soon as young people begin to think about the future. If you wait until they're seniors, it's probably too late."
Starbase Portland site