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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Military Recruiting in Schools

I wrote a letter to my public schools superintendent and school board members on Sunday. I don't want my children to be harrassed by military recruiters, even though NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (aka No Public School Left Open; aka No Child Not Recruited) demands that schools release directory information on students or face loss of federal funds. When the rule was first sneaked through in the so-called school reform legislation, there was activism to have schools offer an "opt-in" policy so that the privacy of students was the presumptive approach. After a number of school systems adopted that policy, the Pentagon issued a letter saying that "opt-in" was a misconstrual of the law. Only "opt-out" policies would be allowed. So I had been eagerly waiting for my opt-out form, which I finally have filled out for my daughters 2 weeks into the school year. Here is the letter I wrote, and I've noted a couple of articles which raise concerns about military recruiting and sexual assault.

September 10, 2006

Dr. Carl Harris
Durham Public Schools

Dear Dr. Harris,
I wish you well in your new responsibilities as superintendent of DPS. I know you are working hard, and I especially appreciate your continued efforts to seek community input on the work of the school system.

I am writing about a matter of great concern in my family: military recruitment in our schools. It is first of all a concern because of my deep Christian convictions against participation in war. In respect of the constitution and my family’s convictions, I am strongly opposed to allowing military recruiters to have opportunities to try to influence my children. Speech promoting the training of young people for killing other people transgresses religious doctrine and interferes with freedom of religion for those of us who believe in non-violence.

Secondly, I am also a concerned parent of two high-school daughters, one at Riverside and one at DSA. I have included with this letter two articles about the widespread occurrences of sexual assault by military recruiters and in the military academies. These articles do not include the disturbing statistics reported by the military which show a 25% increase in sexual assaults within the active military from 2003 to 2004, and a further 40% increase in 2005, reaching above 2700 reported sexual assaults. Of course, the immediate concern is the sexual assaults on teen-aged girls by military recruiters. The sexual assaults are not only against females, by the way.

I had become alarmed that I had not been given an opportunity to “opt out” of the directory information for military recruiters until today. After two weeks of school, one of my daughters showed me the Parent/Student Handbook she had just received on Friday. It directed me to find the form on the dpsnc.net web site. I have filled out these forms and will send them with my daughters on Monday morning.

Yet it does not seem that this information is widely known. I urge you to make this a matter of utmost concern for high school principals and leaders at any other schools where recruiters may be doing their work.

I will be sharing this letter and these articles with the school board members whose districts include voting precinct 1, and with my pastor at Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. William C. Turner, Jr.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Mike Broadway


The information about sexual assaults by military recruiters is an AP article by Martha Mendoza that first appeared in newspapers on August 19, 2006. It can be found on many websites, and I'm putting in a couple of links for your convenience. If you can't get to these, you can find it easily with a web search.

http://www.forbes.com/home/feeds/ap/2006/08/20/ap2960740.html

http://159.54.227.3/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060821/NEWS/608210337

The other article is from the Durham Herald-Sun. You probably can't access it in the archives, so I am putting the text here for you to read. Remember, this is a copyrighted article.


Ex-cadet: Sexual assault response falls short


Published in: The Herald-Sun
Page: A4

Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2006

BY KATY STAFFORD Herald-Sun Washington bureau news@heraldsun.com; 419-6630
WASHINGTON -- Beth Davis of Durham, a former Air Force cadet allegedly raped by a classmate, criticized a Department of Defense report on sexual assault at a congressional hearing Tuesday, saying its solutions to sexual assault at military academies were inadequate.

Davis told a House government reform committee hearing that the report, issued last year, also did not completely convey the prevalence of sexual assault at the academies.

"The recommendations are devoid of any leadership accountability," Davis said. "Cadets believe that if their leadership isn't held to the standard of academy life, they shouldn't be either."

In emotional testimony, Davis recounted the story of her alleged rape and gave eight recommendations to help prevent and respond to sexual assault incidents. Among them: allowing a victim to consult civilian legal counsel and commissioning an independent, nonmilitary congressional investigation into the problems of sexual assault at the military academies and the military at large.

The House committee was reviewing the 2005 Department of Defense task force report, which made several recommendations including changing the service academy culture toward women, protecting communications made by sexual assault victims and incorporating sexual harassment classes into the curriculum.

There were 2,374 reported cases of sexual assault last year, a 40 percent increase from 2004, according to the Department of Defense. The task force found that "sexual assault has been inadequately addressed at the academies."

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., who said Congress needs to hear more stories like that of Davis', organized the hearing to analyze the progress made by the military academies in preventing and responding to sexual assault incidents. Shays said he wants to revise the hearing schedule to include more testimony from alleged victims.

Davis alleged that a cadet in her squadron raped her repeatedly during her freshman year. "In a situation where I was blackmailed, degraded and threatened daily, I found myself utterly distraught."

Davis said older female students warned her not to report incidents of sexual assault.

"Upper-class women cadets informed us that it was very likely we would be raped or sexually assaulted during our time at the academy, and they instructed us that, if we were attacked, to not report it to authorities because it would effectively destroy our career," she said.

Davis eventually went to the Office of Special Investigations. She said her commander closed the case after six months. She was later dismissed from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"As my world and everything I believed in crumbled before me, I realized I was being castigated and thrown out of the academy for reporting the heinous crimes
that had been committed against me," she said.

The Air Force Academy did not immediately return phone calls to discuss Davis' allegations.

But representatives from the Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, Military Academy and the Coast Guard told committee members about changes made at their institutions.

"We have made significant progress, but we know and understand the challenge remains to keep the focus on this national problem of sexual assault and to continue our journey for long-term cultural change," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Susan Desjardins. "We have refocused our efforts on building leaders of character that reach and exceed these higher standards."

COPYRIGHT 2006 by The Durham Herald Company. All rights reserved.

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