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Wayback Wednesday: When the military came to school

In 1971, with the United States fighting in Vietnam, the New York State Senate voted to allow high school ROTC military training programs during school hours, over opposition from those who felt the military had no place in the schools.

“The soldier who obeys his superior officer without question except in the most extreme circumstances is essentially different from the citizen who prizes his freedom to think dangerous thoughts and to challenge even legally sanctioned authority,” wrote Irwin Stark of the American Civil Liberties Union in a 1979 New York Times column, arguing for the continued separation of the military from the public schools.

Junior ROTC programs are now a fairly common but still controversial program in schools across the country. More controversial right now is military recruitment in public schools — and the NY Civil Liberties Union, students, and lawmakers object to a new DOE policy of providing military recruiters access to students’ contact information on a centralized, rather than school-by-school, basis.

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