Education Roundup

By Kuehn, Larry | Our Schools, Our Selves, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview
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Education Roundup


Kuehn, Larry, Our Schools, Our Selves


British military offers lessons on citizenship

The British Ministry of Defense has gone into the business of creating lesson plans, a back door way of getting teachers to spread its views. The lessons - with video and Powerpoint - show how the armed forces' message can be included in science, math, geography, English and citizenship classes. The military has paid the equivalent of a half million dollars to a company to develop the materials.

School Students Against the War in London picketed the marketing company paid to create the materials. Union leader Mary Bousted said They should be upfront about what it's about. However, I don't think it is a particular cause for concern as I can't see teachers rushing to use it." Take a look yourself at www.defencedynamics.mod.uk/.

U.S. military goes to school

The U.S. Army's School Recruiting Program Handbook targets teachers and schools. "Ensure an Army presence in all secondary schools," it says. "Be indispensable to school administration, counselors, faculty and students. Be so helpful and so much a part of the school scene that you are in constant demand."

Rolande Baker, a teacher in Tucson, Arizona, got her board to limit the access of recruiters to schools. According to NEA Today, she was upset that the recruiters would approach students at lunch and offer to buy chips and nachos and then would hand out pencils after school. She was particularly incensed with a note in teacher mailboxes offering "How would you like to have a day off from class? Let us come speak to your students."

The Chicago school district has 129 military instructors paid for by the school district, according to Substance, a monthly progressive education magazine. The military covers about half the cost of the military programs in the schools.

Military education is the largest of the "education to career" programs in the school district. While military training programs exist in many of Chicago high schools, it has five specific academies that are stand alone, only one of which shares facilities with regular programs - three for the army and one each for the navy and marines.

The armed services compete with each other. The Army handbook says "Like the farmer who fails to guard the hen house, we can easily lose our schools and relinquish ownership to the other services if we fail to maintain a strong school recruiting program."

Canadian Forces recruiting Indigenous youth

Even with much smaller numbers in service, the pressure is on for the Canadian Forces to recruit young people as well. Recruiters are targeting Indigenous youth, hoping to double their participation in the military.

Military recruiters now appear in Aboriginal youth communities under the banner of "highlighting the diversity of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures" in the ranks of the military. The Canadian Forces has hosted an Aboriginal Day celebration with free food and runs an Aboriginal Entry Program and a Bold Eagle Program.

Aboriginal youth are the fastest growing demographic in Canada and make up about 10% of the possible recruits. However, they are substantially under-represented in the military, as in many other aspects of Canadian life.

A new big three in textbooks

While the old U.S. big three in the auto industry are losing out to global competitors, a new big three has formed in textbook sales. With the sale of Harcourt to Houghton Mifflin Company, Houghton will jump past Pearson Education and McGrawHill, run by the Bush family friends, to be the number one textbook company.

All the textbook companies are moving into digital content as a source of future business, according to Education Week.

Warnings of the "educational-industrial" complex

Echoes of U.S. President Eisenhower's warning about the power of the military-industrial complex were heard in a column in Phi Delta Kappan by Bobby Ann Starness.

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