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Los Angeles Schools Move to Protect Student Privacy from Military

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 06:21 PM
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Los Angeles Schools Move to Protect Student Privacy from Military
http://www.commondreams.org/news2007/1128-02.htm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 28, 2007
9:34 AM


CONTACT: National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY)
Arlene Inouye, Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools, L.A., CA 626-483-6160
Pat Elder, Peace Action Montgomery, Bethesda, MD 202-210-3467
James Lafferty, National Lawyers GuildL.A., CA 323-653-4510

Los Angeles Schools Move to Protect Student Privacy from Military
Growing concern about protecting student data leads to focus on military aptitude testing in secondary schools.


LOS ANGELES - November 28 - The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest school system, has instituted a new policy to stop the practice of releasing confidential student information to military recruiters under a controversial Department of Defense testing program. LAUSD becomes the second major school system to adopt such a policy, joining Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland.

Under the DoD testing program, which began in 1968, secondary schools are asked by recruiters to administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to some or all of their students in grades ten through twelve. The ASVAB test is typically marketed as a general career exploration exam but was designed to screen enlistment applicants specifically for military occupations. It is now administered to 688,016 students in 66% of all high schools nationwide, according to data obtained from the Department of Defense. Rarely is parental permission sought before testing students. Several hundred high schools across the country require all Juniors to take the test.

After the test is given, recruiters routinely receive detailed personal information on students, including their gender, race, Social Security number, aptitude data and contact information. Schools have the option of giving the ASVAB test without test results being used for recruiting, but polls of school counselors in places like L.A. have revealed little awareness of the option. As a result, the ASVAB has become a primary tool for getting around restrictions on access to confidential student information.

"It's really a way for recruiters to circumvent parents and obtain personal data on students that cannot be legally released through the school system," said Rick Jahnkow of the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities in San Diego. "Students are often not told what the true purpose of the test is, and the vast majority of those tested are age 17 or younger. When they sit down to take it, they are told to sign a privacy act waiver that is of questionable legality."

Growing concern over aggressive recruiting has caused parents, students and community activists across the country to give the issue greater attention. This has led to increased scrutiny of high school ASVAB testing and efforts to challenge it in places like Los Angeles. Last year, Montgomery County Public Schools, in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, decided to withhold ASVAB test results from recruiters and require parental consent for all minors taking the military test.

The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) formed in 2004 to bring together organizations doing counter-recruitment work nationally. It maintains a publicly accessible database of such groups on its Web site at www.nnomy.org .

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