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Anti-Military Recruiting Campaigns Heats up At Seattle Schools

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On Monday, four US military recruiting offices in Seattle were shut down when students blocked the entrances to protest recruitment practices and to oppose the occupation of Iraq. Meanwhile the Parent Teacher Student Association at one school has passed a resolution recommending that military recruiters be barred from the campus. [includes rush transcript]

Students from nine local universities, community colleges and high schools joined in simultaneous demonstrations. A military recruiting office near the University of Washington and another near Garfield High School were also blockaded by groups of students.

Garfield High School also made news recently when the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association passed a resolution recommending that military recruiters be barred from the campus. The resolution, passed on May 9th, was the first of its kind in the state. Seattle school district officials then released a statement stating that under President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, it was illegal to ban only military recruiters–they must be granted the same access to students as college or job recruiters at schools that receive federal money.

Garfield High School is no stranger to speaking out against the war. In 2002, the school passed a resolution opposing the invasion in Iraq.

  • Amy Hagopian, is the president and co-chair of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Joining us on the phone from Seattle is the co-chair of the Parent Teacher Association, Amy Hagopian. She is the mother of a senior at Garfield High. Welcome to Democracy Now!

AMY HAGOPIAN: It’s good to be with you.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m sorry we only have a few minutes. Can you quickly explain how did your P.T.A. vote to kick out the recruiters? And what will happen now?

AMY HAGOPIAN: Our P.T.A. has a mission to promote the welfare of children and youth and to support and speak out on their behalf. That’s the mission of P.T.A.s everywhere in America. And we would encourage other P.T.A.s to act on behalf of their mission and also look seriously at the recruitment happening in their schools and the nature of that recruitment, the frequency, the intensity, and the hard pressure tactics.

AMY GOODMAN: Your school is almost a third African American?

AMY HAGOPIAN: It is. It’s a inner city school that’s large and very diverse. It’s a magnet school, so there’s many high achieving kids and there’s many kids who can’t read.

AMY GOODMAN: What will happen if No Child Left Behind Act says you lose federal funding? Will the school actually stop recruiters from coming on campus?

AMY HAGOPIAN: We can’t physically stop them, and we can’t legally stop them, but we can stand at the doors and explain that they’re not welcome, as can every high school in the country. Somebody obviously needs to challenge this legally, but that’s a hard task to ask of public schools that are strapped for money.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Amy Hagopian, co-chair of the Parent Teacher Association at Garfield High. Another issue we have dealt with in the past is that kids’ names are given to the Pentagon automatically by schools, part of the No Child Left Behind Act, unless parents proactively tell the school they don’t want those names sent, or the student does, and then those names will not be sent, a story we have covered here.

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