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Indybay Feature
100 Students Rally Against Gun Ranges in City Schools!
by Rocky Neptun
Friday Oct 17th, 2008 9:01 PM
In San Diego today, under the leadership of this martial, blood-bitten, corporate owned, school board; students have become mere objects, their futures, their goals, determined by others. The San Diego School Board meeting brought together titanic forces both ancient and distant.Peace faced perpetual war, non-violence confronted militarism, another generation faced another epoch of age-istic control.They belong to the 21st Century and have no interest in pre-emptive wars, wars against terror, perpetual war or acts of violence against anyone. Their's is a generation that sees peace and non-violence as its goals.
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The Militarization of Public Education!

By Rocky Neptun

Just as there are axial moments in history; so too, I believe, there are axial moments in a person's life. A fleeting glance into the organic currents of public events that reflect staggering changes to come. As a cub reporter for a small town newspaper, I remember traveling for two-days with Ronald Reagan on the campaign bus as he sought re-election for governor. As a fan of his: he had dated my mother in the 1940's and had come to my high-school during his first try, chatting with me and giving me an autographed copy of his book Where is The Rest of Me?; I was all set to write a series of glowing articles on his visit to the twin counties. Yet, at the University of California at Riverside, where he had come to tour the pollution control lab, students who were protesting the imposition of tuition were being beaten and dragged across the pavement by their hair. As he looked through the window at the police excesses and brutality, a smile of approval came over his face and (as a young student myself) the shock and horror of that smirk enraged me. I wanted to reach over and smack his face, but of course I didn't. Reagan would go on to complete the right-wing take-over of the United States, its corporate ownership, perpetual wars by the industrial-military complex and over two million young people of color imprisoned.

A similiar axial moment occured last Tuesday evening as I watched over a hundred high school students, mostly youth of color, from Lincoln High School and Mission Bay High School confront the aged, degenerate, industrial-military complex owned San Diego School Board. They were there to protest the ludicrous notion of gun ranges in their schools. These courageous young people, standing against the militaristic fads of our times, want no part of 20th Century violence. They belong to the 21st Century and have no interest in pre-emptive wars, wars against terror, perpetual war or acts of violence against anyone. Their's is a generation that sees peace and non-violence as its goals.

As Sakeerah Shabazz, a member of the Black Student Union, stood in defence of the new world order of violence and militarism, she told the Board members that "schools are for learning not weapon training." She verbally censured the Board for instituting a gun range at Lincoln High School without so much as one community meeting in the neighborhood. "Do what is best for us kids," she admonished, "not yourselves."

These wonderful kids seem to sense that history is not only made by things that happened in the distant past; huge occurrences like Hiroshima or small incidents like an out of work painter climbing on a Berlin beer hall table to give his first public rant; but by the everyday activities of each one of us as well. Our human project and its narrative, a truck and trailer, hurling down the evolutionary path, creates both past and future simultaneously.

Thus, Tuesday evening, such a simple event as the San Diego School Board meeting brought together titanic forces both ancient and distant. Peace faced perpetual war, non-violence confronted militarism, another generation faced another epoch of age-istic control. Students as objects, eye-ed off with the notion of them as subjects of their own intellectual journeys. The mendacity of the military-industrial institutional education system which needs, through the right-wing based "outcome based education," to provide cannon fodder and employee supplicants, stood against the echoing pleas of Socrates to free youth for exploration and liberation.

Several members of the San Diego Education Not Arms Coalition came to the Oct. 14th session and joined the students in fighting one of the symptoms of the increasing militarization of our society. Students, parents and teachers rallied in front of the Normal Street school headquarters specifically to protest guns on high school campuses. Gun ranges are not required for the government's Jr. ROTC program; yet the School Board, with a majority being either former military or married to a member of the Armed Forces, operates 13 weapon ranges in San Diego high schools. They have even militarized their own meetings with students carrying flags, marching from the back of the auditorium to the podium; almost having to goose-step down the steep, carpeted aisles.

After all the high profile school shootings in recent years, including in our own back-yard, at Santana High School in Santee, it appears to most intelligent people, with children in school or not, that allowing guns on high school campuses by a special elite only adds to the confusion and mixed signals our violent society sends to its young.

According to the Children's Defense Fund, on average 13 children in the United States are killed each day by firearms. In one year, more young people die from gunfire than from cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, and HIV/AIDS combined. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the rate of firearm deaths among kids under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the US than in 25 other industrial nations combined. In the last decade there have been 253 deaths in public schools because of guns on campus. Over 3,000 students each year are expelled for bringing a firearm to class.

Yet, we have an anchor-faced and khaki-brained School Board allowing shooting ranges in San Diego schools; while a State Senator from Alabama, Hark Eruin R-Montevello, has introduced legislation which allows high school students, as well as teachers and school staff, to carry loaded guns on campus "if they are in good standing academically, have permits and attend an approved gun use class." Four of the five San Diego School Board Trustees have ties to the military; Sheila Jackson is a former Navy officer, Mit Lee is married to a navy officer, Katharine Nakumura's SDSU professor husband does research for the military and Luis Acle served in the militarized Reagan White House.

As the United States marches lock-step toward totalitarianism, the militarization of our youth and their imprisonment in corporate demanded outcome based education is based on an ideology which commodifies and dominates everything, even education and thought. As Eric Fromm pointed out so long ago, powerful forces in society move to control and benefit from the difficult, frustrating, often frightening, clash with reality and independence that youth experience as they mature. They develop a form of submission which offers "some kind of relationship to man and the world which promises relief from uncertainty, even if it deprives the individual of his freedom." As one of Hitler's youth gushed to a western news person in 1939, "we are now free from freedom."

Of course, any sane person would say that the tools of violence, whether guns or sabers, tanks or missile launchers, have no place in public schools. Yet, we overlook the psychological conflicts of youth exposed to the dangers of militarization so early in life: the appeal to the intellectual laziness of automation conformity, exemplified by George Bush; the authoritarianism of a Rudolf Hess, or the programmed destructiveness of a Timothy McVeigh. The finger that pulls the trigger is only a tool of the mind. Like the Navajo sage told his son about violence and hatred, we all carry this wolf in our heads; while our hearts cry out for peace and love. Which one usually wins, the youngster asks, The elder answers "the one we feed."

In San Diego today, under the leadership of this martial, blood-bitten, corporate owned, school board; students have become mere objects, their futures, their goals, determined by others. Outcome based education demands toy soldiers or corporate go-fers; campaign dollars are not given to board members to create lovers of wisdom nor develop a pedology for their modern existential encounter with technology and rapid change. Information over knowledge, private gain and competition as opposed to social integration; fear of terrorists, fear of failure, fear of the unexpected, fear of the unknown, over the courage of creativity.

Controlling the Future

After the Nazis seized control of Germany in 1933, military training became a very important part of the school curriculum. Hans Schemm, Hitler's friend and leader of the Nazi's Teachers League, boasted "those who have youth on their side, control the future." Nazi education gave great importance to the psychical, to a cult of experience, as being of greater importance than academic study.

As Fromm wrote, "the Nazis inherited one of the finest education systems in Europe, with a strong tradition of personal development through educational achievement. They fundamentally changed the concept. The purpose of education was no longer personal development but to prepare the individual for service to the state. Thus, the educational system was designed to prepare a generation of German youth that was equipped for military service and ideologically prepared to make the needed sacrifices."

Those who failed military training and fitness tests were expelled from school; mirroring Hitler's command that "a young German must be as swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather and as hard as Krupp's steel." Cognitive learning gave way to nationalistic character building; self-actualization was replaced with developing "right attitudes," a new German consciousness of service to the "Homeland." Theory and experimentation in science curriculum were replaced with practical military applications, like the impact of poisonous gases, building bridges, aviation dynamics, and of course the principles of shooting.

As early as January, 1937, Nazi General Hellmuth Stellrecht, would bluntly tell a gathering of the world's armed services personal at a Yale Law school gathering that "the education of youth has to take care that the knowledge and principle of the state and its military enters so thoroughly into the thoughts of the individual that they never again can be taken away and remain direction-giving principles all through life."

Chillingly, the Nazi General alluded to the culture of war they shared; "manly discipline, the iron habit to obey silently and to carry out, without a word that service by order of another for which the individual will does not suffice."

Mirroring its 21st Century counter-parts, the Junior ROTC programs in US schools, he boasted, "in the course of years we want to achieve that a gun feels just as natural in the hands of a German boy as a pen."

"Liberalism put the following slogan above school doors, 'knowledge is power;' we, on the other hand, have found that the power of a nation, in the last analysis, always rests on its arms and on those who know how to handle them."

"The education of the boy stops when he enters the services of the Armed Forces," he said, "all military training must thus be regarded as a common ideological readiness to give back to German youth what was common to primitive men." Commenting on the "soldierly way of life" he lectured his fellow service members that "each citizen of the New Reich is being born to bear arms" and that "it is a fine thing when a man of 20 learns to obey unconditionally but it is much better when the boy starts to put his own wishes aside, to renounce, to give in and to serve the will of the military."

Almost seventy-seven years ago, before millions of war dead piled high, before innocent families burned like firewood, before poor, gun carrying German youth died fighting most of the world; this obscene Nazi General, like all military officers, like the San Diego School Board, tragically said "all that has been learned [in school] serves nothing, from a military point of view, but to get close to the enemy and to bring arms in to effect. Education remains without value if it does not lead to the full effect against the enemy. All training, therefore, culminates in training in shooting. Shooting is a matter of practice one cannot start too early."

Things We Should Do If We Care About Our Young People!

1. Write, telephone or e-mail the San Diego Board of Education and tell them that gun ranges and military education have no place in public schools. If parents and students want to participate in such militaristic, violent activities there are plenty of private schools available for such activities. The truth is: the military needs poor kids! Contact them at San Diego Unified School District, Eugene Brucker Education Center 4100 Normal Street, Room 2231 San Diego, CA 92103 phone (619) 725-5550 or fax (619) 725-5522 - -or e-mail at cward [at] sandi.net

2. Support these kids. There were only about 12 adults at the Board of Education meeting to support these hundred students; they need all of us there to give them encouragement. They will still be struggling against militarism long after most of us are gone; they need our smiles of approval and batons passed on!

3. Thank the American Friends Service Committee for chartering a bus to get these students to the meeting. Daughters and sons of working-class people all, their parents (at 3 p.m.) could not take off work to get them there. Better yet, donate to AFSC. 3061 Market Street, San Diego, Ca 92102. (619) 233-6607.
§Students Attend Board Meeting
by Rocky Neptun Friday Oct 17th, 2008 9:01 PM
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Over 100 students, mostly of color, let the militarized school board know they don't want gun ranges in their schools.
§Schools Are For Education
by Rocky Neptun Friday Oct 17th, 2008 9:01 PM
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Sakeerah Shabazz, tells Board Members schools are for education not military training.
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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Why shouldn't there be weapons training?Kevin WalshMonday Aug 29th, 2011 4:53 AM
Fuck yahamigoFriday Oct 17th, 2008 10:58 PM
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