Wacky Mommy on STARBASE

by Steve, March 13th, 2010

My wife friggin’ rocked the school board last Monday… they didn’t voter our way, but I think we made them uncomfortable. All power to the people, sister!

What I’ll have to say about STARBASE this evening

by Steve, March 8th, 2010

warI was planning on addressing the school board tonight, but they’re limiting us to three speakers. So they’re having me address the rally ahead of time. Here’s what I’ve got:

Regardless of the curriculum offered by STARBASE in exchange for access to our preteens, there is a civil rights question to be answered: Is this military recruiting aimed at poor and minority students?

The second half of that question is easily answered. The Portland STARBASE Web site says the program is aimed at “at-risk youth.” Fourteen of the 18 schools participating this year are Title 1 schools, and the students at these schools are disproportionately non-white and poor when compared to the district as a whole.

The recruiting question is pretty clear to me, too, even though students, parents and teachers may love the program, and even if they don’t detect recruitment.

I want you to join me in a thought experiment tonight.

Some of you have been ten-year-old boys, and some of you have had ten-year-old sons or grandsons or nephews. I want you all to pretend, just for a minute or two, that you are all ten-year-old boys.

Boys of all ages love things that go. Things that go fast: even better. Now, as a ten-year-old boy, listen as I describe some of what you will see at Portland Air Base.

This base is home of the 142nd fighter wing, a fleet of F-15 Eagle fighter bombers. This supersonic twin-engine jet airplane is so light and powerful that it can accelerate into a vertical climb, like a rocket. The thrust of its engines is greater than its total weight, so it can make sharp turns without losing air speed. The F-15 has a thrilling combination of speed, maneuverability, high tech weapons, and avionics, including heads-up instrumentation display. This is one of the most performant vehicles in the world, and the only people who get to fly them are in the military.

The F-15 Eagle is typically outfitted with a variety of industrial weapons, like the Sparrow, AMRAAM and Sidewinder missiles and a 20 mm Gatling-style cannon, capable of firing depleted uranium shells at up to 7,200 rounds per minute. A modified version of the F15, the Strike Eagle, can deliver the B61, a multi-kiloton thermonuclear bomb.

In use since 1974, the F15, with all its various armaments, is among the deadliest, most formidable weapons systems on the planet. It continues to be a key piece of US air superiority, able to outperform every conceivable enemy aircraft. It is widely used by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as by Israel, Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Now, I know a lot of ten-year-old boys who would be getting pretty excited about this. The STARBASE Web site shows children climbing into the cockpit of an F-15 Eagle.

Without knowing anything about the curriculum, or anything about the base tour, or anything about the hour and a half talk about military careers that ends STARBASE, I’m here to tell you that showing a ten-year-old boy this aircraft, possibly introducing him to its pilot, is a form of recruitment.

The military’s recruiting manual notes the importance of contact with very young students as soon as they start thinking about the future. Many of the boys in my daughter’s fifth grade class are already talking about joining the military, even before they go to STARBASE.

So:

It doesn’t matter if students return from STARBASE and say there is no recruiting.

It doesn’t matter if some parents don’t think their children are bein recruited.

It doesn’t matter if teachers say the curriculum is great.

It doesn’t matter that the program is taught by civilians, and no recruiters are present for most of the program.

If the Departement of Defense considers this a recruiting program, it is a recruiting program.

A military recruiting program aimed at poor and minority preteens is a civil rights violation, and we should not be taking part.

Say NO! to STARBASE

by Steve, March 3rd, 2010

warSTARBASE, the Department of Defense’s childhood recruitment program, has been buying access to our children through Portland Public Schools for something like seventeen years. The school board is poised to approve selling access to another round of predominately poverty-affected, non-white fourth and fifth graders Monday.

Communities for Alternatives to Starbase Education (Facebook and Twitter), a group of mothers opposed to sending children to military bases at a time of war, will be there to help educate the public about this program (since the district doesn’t seem to like to share much information with families, even if they share student information with the military), with a press conference and rally at district headquarters. They’ve got the support of Jobs with Justice, Whitefeather Peace House, Students United for Nonviolence, the Oregon Peace Institute and the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace Building Program.

This peace-loving dad is also supporting courageous mothers everywhere who stand up for their children, and would love to see other conscious parents and children there, too:

  • Blanchard Education Service Center (BESC) 501 N. Dixon St., two blocks from the east end of the Broadway Bridge, just north of Memorial Coliseum.
  • 6 p.m., Monday, March 8, International Women’s day.

From the CASE Facebook page:

Come out to testify against or bear witness as the Portland Public School Board votes to allow military recruitment, under the guise of science education, of our children in grades K-5.

Military bases are not designed for children, they are not playgrounds.

Military bases, including our local Armory, store toxic materials and jet fuels; not safe for children.

We are a country at war, military bases are not safe places for civilians, especially children, during wartime. They are targets.

Military personnel returning from active duty may suffer unpredictable and often violent behavior as a result of service. Luckily no children were injured on the base in Texas when such an incident occurred.

Of the 18 schools participating in this program all but 4 are Title 1 schools. All but three have higher percentages of minority students, and all but four have higher poverty.

Violence is on the increase in our public schools and culture. Exposing our young, impressionable children to exciting, high tech, high powered, weapons will not help in our struggle to move toward a more tolerant and peaceful society.