Action alert: Proposed Dekalb Marine Academy
The proposed DeKalb Marine school is based on the military public school model pioneered in Chicago by Arne Duncan, who is now Obama’s Secretary of Education. After you read Tim’s post below, check out Andy Kroll’s report on the Chicago schools to see what is at stake:
From Tim Franzen, American Friends Service Committee
Concerned Community Members:
In March 2009 we learned that the DeKalb County Board of Education plans to create a “DeKalb Marine Corps Institute.” This magnet school would be funded by DeKalb County Schools and the U.S. Marine Corps. It is not clear how long this project has been in the works, it has been kept a secret from the general public until a small notice was published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on March 11, 2009.
Superintendant Dr. Crawford Lewis has said he believes the school will “increase graduation levels for African Americans who are less educated and who have few options in life.” (Quoted from an email sent March 21, 2009.) It is clear that the DeKalb Board of Education is hoping to delegate some of their responsibility for education to the United States Marines.
We have also become aware that 4th District U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson supports the school and has given Superintendent Lewis his word that he will get some Stimulus money for the project.
We have some serious concerns about this proposed school. Listed below are our main objections:
The military already has plenty of access to our public schools through JROTC, No Child Left Behind, and campus recruiters. We already know that the Marines plan to pay for this school out of their recruitment budget. With African American recruiting numbers down over the past five years, this is a way for them to change that trend. They say the school will focus on math and science. Well, the Marines are in desperate need of combat engineers and other math and science related career paths. Bottom line, it’s not the military’s job to educate and empower children, especially using public school money for large portions of the operational cost.
Public school systems that have been operating military-style schools in other parts of the country for several years do not have a good success rate, as measured by graduation rates and test scores. The Chicago School District’s military schools have graduation rates 10-33% lower than the state average. Their math and science test scores were also lower. And 40% of their students ended up enlisting in the Army.
Military service has not been kind to young people who join. Veterans earn 15% less than non-veterans. Only 1 out of 5 veterans ever receives a college degree. One third of America’s homeless are veterans. Veterans are more likely to develop drug and alcohol addictions, commit spousal abuse, get divorced, and commit suicide. Veterans have historically not received the college and medical benefits to which they are entitled.
At a time when we have so many under-funded schools, one must ask: Why does DeKalb County want to fund this new school? The start-up and operational costs could be put to much better use solving problems at existing schools in DeKalb County that desperately need it.
Therefore, we ask you to join us in our opposition to this school and our commitment to work with the DeKalb County Board of Education in an effort to develop alternative means to serve our children and truly empower them. Please consider taking action this week.
Ways that you can get involved:
We are holding a series of potluck dinners combined with informational and strategy sessions beginning with:
Tuesday, April 28th 6:30 PM
All will be held at the offices of the American Friends Service Committee, 92 Piedmont Ave, Atlanta, 30303.
You can also forward this message to DeKalb parents, teachers, students, clergy and other community partners.
We are also more then willing to have a phone conversation with you, or schedule a personal visit in your home, office, church, local coffee shop, or community center. Don’t hesitate to call me at either number below.
You can email Superintendent Crawford Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call him at 678-676-0790 or 678-676-0022. You can also contact Congressman Hank Johnson at http://hankjohnson.house.gov/.
Peace Building Program Director
American Friends Service Committee