Employment prospects for high school students after graduation have become increasingly uncertain. Vocational counseling services in most schools are hard-pressed or nonexistent. Many rely on a military aptitude test as an aid to vocational counseling.
Every year, 650,000 high school students in 11,900 schools across the country are required—or strongly encouraged—to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a four-hour military test, during school hours. The students’ personal contact information, race, ethnicity, gender, Social Security numbers, and aptitude scores are then routinely sent to military recruiters without parental knowledge.
ASVAB test results are the only student records that leave schools without parental consent. Of the students nationwide who took the ASVAB in 2008–2009, 92 percent had their results directly forwarded to recruiters. A bonanza of private information from test data is used by recruiters to form relationships with students in person and over the phone.
In April 2010, Maryland became the first state to prohibit the automatic release to military recruiters of student information gathered as a result of the administration of the ASVAB in the state’s high schools.
Military regulations allow schools to determine how test results will be used by choosing one of eight options. Option 1 releases student test information to military recruiters. If the school fails to specify a release option, the military automatically selects Option 1. Maryland’s law mandates the universal selection of Option 8, prohibiting the use of test data for recruitment purposes.
—Pat Elder wrote this article for A Resilient Community, the Fall 2010 issue of YES! Magazine. Pat serves on the Steering Committee of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth.
“Many young disabled people are growing up with a marvelous sense of belonging, entitlement, and pride I never had.”
-Ben Mattlin, NPR commentator born with spinal muscular atrophy, celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (passed July 26, 1990).
The Army Experience Center in Philadelphia has closed. Visitors to the center, located in a shopping mall, could play military video games and engage in mock battles aboard a Humvee and two helicopters outfitted with battle simulators. The $12 million equipment may be used at recruiting centers in other parts of the country.
6,000 U.S. veterans commit suicide every year, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Suicide rates are lower for veterans under 29 who receive VA health care services. The VA states that their toll-free suicide prevention hotline receives 10,000 calls per month, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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