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Successful campaign
to challenge JROTC weapons training in San Diego City high schools

UPDATE: (2/26/09)

School Board Vote Ends Weapons Training

On February 10, 2009, San Diego Unified banned rifle training by the military’s high school JROTC program. Eleven schools with rifle ranges were affected.

Before the board meeting, 200 student activists and supporters rallied and heard speeches outside the board auditorium (see PHOTOS). When the weapons training issue came up for discussion, students testified in front of the board about the zero-tolerance double standard, the concern about continued violence in the community and the need for academic programs rather than weapons training. One school board member said that in all of his many years on the board, this was the most impressive student effort he had ever seen.

The resolution passed by a vote of 3-2. It immediately banned all marksmanship training activities, whether they occur on or off campus, and required that on-campus shooting ranges be converted for other educational uses by the beginning of the next school year. On Feb. 24, the school board discussed the matter again and decided marksmanship activities could continue until the end of the current (2008-2009) school year. After that, the ban will be implemented.

High school students have played a central role in the effort to end weapons training. They educated and mobilized their peers, and got support from teachers, parents, community and college groups. Participants first came together in 2007 as the Education Not Arms Coalition. The coalition has worked to convince the San Diego Unified School District to:

• stop placing students in military science (JROTC) classes without their informed consent.
• stop telling parents and students that the class will help them qualify for college, when it won’t.
• ban weapons training and JROTC gun ranges in San Diego schools.

The first two goals were achieved by a superintendent’s directive in the fall of 2008, the third by school board action on Feb. 10, 2009.

The coalition will continue to monitor implementation of the new JROTC enrollment requirements and remain vigilant in case there are attempts to reverse the ban on marksmanship training.

BELOW is archival information used in this successful campaign.


· Military science courses (i.e., JROTC) are taught in many San Diego County high schools. They are not required to include weapons training, yet many of them have high-powered pellet gun ranges on school grounds. This is despite zero-tolerance policy on weapons in schools and community efforts to teach young people NOT to use weapons.

· Some students are being placed in military science courses without their or their parents' informed consent, violating Calif. Education Code sec. 51750.

· To get the minimum number (100) of students required for JROTC, school staff are sometimes telling students that military science will help them qualify for college. In fact, JROTC credits do NOT count toward meeting admission requirements for Calif. colleges and universities.

· In some schools, students are being denied adequate academic electives—like advance placement, honors, AVID and A-G courses—while being steered toward JROTC. This amounts to tracking students into the military since, despite denials by JROTC, the Dept. of Defense has testified to Congress that it is a highly effective military recruiting program.

We are a coalition of parents, students, teachers and community activists who believe that weapons training should not be sponsored by our schools and should be removed from military science courses. This same action was taken in 1999 by the Chicago school system, which has the largest JROTC program in the country. We also want school districts to comply with California law and make sure that students are not placed in military science courses without informed consent from students and parents. We want students and parents to be correctly informed that JROTC credit does not count toward California college admission requirements, and we want students to have adequate alternatives that actually can help them get into college.

Education Not Arms Coalition
c/o Project YANO, P.O. Box 230157, Encinitas, CA 92023, email contac[at]

Campaign Information

February 10, 2009 photos: Students and community supporters finally convince school board to end weapons training

February 10, 2009 video: Video of the school board hearing on weapons training in schools. Hearing begins a few minutes into this 2nd part of the meeting video (at 2:51:19):

October 14, 2008 photos: Large protest against campus gun ranges at school board meeting

The Militarization of Our Youth: They're Targeting You, a PowerPoint slide show, created by ninth grade students at Lincoln H.S. in San Diego (2.9 MB)

Coalition rebuttal to claims made by JROTC and school district personnel, May 27, 2008

April 22, 2008 school board meeting audio:
Part 1--Board member de Beck makes proposal re. JROTC (MP3, 9.6 MB)
Part 2--Community testifies (MP3, 18.9 MB)
Part 3--Mission Bay HS Principal Seelos is allowed extra time to speak after agenda item was supposedly closed. (MP3, 10.6 MB)

April 22, 2008 photos: School board meeting and large protest

March 26, 2008 student walk-out at Mission Bay High Walk-out organized by students to support peace walk by Guerrero Azteca Project for Peace and protest military recruiting and JROTC

March 11, 2008 school board meeting audio: Testimony by Lincoln and Mission Bay high school students and a parent asking the board to remove weapons ranges from schools and stop tracking students into JROTC (mp3, 8.5 mins.)

March 11, 2008 photos: Protest at San Diego Unified School Board Meeting

Feb. 12, 2008: Video of school board meeting testimony [video no longer available from SDUSD]

Feb. 12, 2008 photos: Protest at San Diego Unified School Board Meeting

Petition presented to San Diego School Board (English and Spanish)

Coalition's Feb. 2008 general flier in PDF file format (English and Spanish)





Local Articles/Media:

A Cool Elective You Can't Get Out Of, San Diego Weekly Reader, June 4, 2008

Scheduling of Military-Linked Classes Spurs Debate, Voice of San Diego, May 2, 2008

Students Say They're Getting Placed into Junior ROTC Against Their Will, Kpbs Radio, April 28, 2008

San Diego School Boards Allow Air-Rifle Training to Continue, KPBS Radio, April 24, 2008. San Diego Unified’s JROTC air-rifle training program will continue to take place at local high schools despite mounting community pressure to end the practice.

Mission Bay High School Students Protest ROTC Program, KPBS Radio, March 26, 2008. Student was placed in JROTC not by choice.

Struggle Heats up in San Diego Schools Over Military Training Programs, Draft NOtices article, Jan.-March 2008.

Parents Mounting Campaign to End ROTC Program, KPBS Radio, Jan. 14, 2008

Other related links:

'Students First In Line' Program To Offer Job Training At Needy Schools, video, The Onion. The logical extension of military training in schools (satire).

Pols stunned shooting range operating at high school, Boston Herald, Jan. 5, 2008

Chicago Schools End Riflery Program, AP Nov. 9, 1999

California Education Code, section 51750 (military science), bans involuntary enrollment in JROTC.

Cal Grant eligibility standard excludes JROTC grades (page 2)

The Recruiting Function of JROTC, excerpts from official documents and Congressional reports