Skip to comments.Military class for kids stirs protest (science class at ANG base)
Posted on 10/11/2006 1:21:14 PM PDT by crazyhorse691
Parents say a U.S.-funded science program smacks of recruitment
The Starbase program, which promises five days of space and aviation "field experiences" using real jet engines and advanced computer technology, would usually seem a perfect fit for a math and science magnet school.
But add U.S. military funding, classes at an Oregon National Guard base and anger about the Iraq war, and the experiment goes haywire, at least at Southeast Portland's Winterhaven K-8 School.
Worried that Starbase is as much about military indoctrination as hands-on education, parents of 12 Winterhaven fourth- and fifth-graders have refused to let their children take part in the program at the Guard's Jackson Armory and Portland Air Base.
The boycott means 20 percent of the 60 eligible Winterhaven students won't attend what school officials insist is one of the year's most exciting and illuminating lessons. The first day camp was Monday; the program will continue one day a week for a month.
"Just on principle, I couldn't do it," said James Ewing, who refused to sign the Starbase permission slip sent home last week with his fourth-grade daughter. "It's not appropriate for the military to be conducting what amounts to a recruiting program at an elementary school level."
This is the first time Winterhaven has been invited to the Department of Defense-funded Starbase. But students from the Portland, North Clackamas, Canby and David Douglas school districts have gone to the local military post for the aeronautics and team-building academy since the early 1990s.
Of the $15 million that the Pentagon sent to Starbase programs nationwide this year, $240,000 landed in Portland, paying for a director, two teachers and two aides. Five percent also goes to the school district, covering administrative costs.
Each year, four or five students don't get on the bus to the Guard base because of their parents' objections to the military's role, said Marilyn Sholian, Starbase director for Portland Public Schools.
But Sholian has never seen anything like the mass protest at Winterhaven. "I was shocked by the number and adamancy," she said.
Winterhaven Principal Tanya Ghattas signed the school up for Starbase two weeks ago, after another Portland school suddenly gave up its spot in the program's fall schedule.
Parents voiced concerns right away. Some were alarmed simply by the wording of a note sent home: "Starbase is targeting fifth-grade students in Portland Public Schools."
At a meeting with 32 parents last week, Ghattas tried to ease the anxiety. Yes, she told them, their children would see fighter jets up close and hear presentations from engineers and pilots in uniform, but the only mission was to offer hands-on mechanical experiments and computer labs beyond anything at Winterhaven.
"I assured them that this is just a good science program that happens to be at a military facility," she said.
Yet, as Ewing noted, Starbase's Web site states that part of the program's mission is to improve the military's image among young people. "They may not come out and say it's recruitment," he said. "But they're definitely laying the groundwork for that."
Trying to improve misperceptions about the military's image isn't the same as recruiting, said Capt. Mike Braibish, an Oregon National Guard spokesman. "There are a lot of misconceptions about the military out there," he said.
As far as Starbase being used as a recruiting tool, Braibish said no one has tracked the number of kids going through the program who join the armed forces. "But I imagine those numbers are quite low," he said. "The fact is, this program improves skills in critical fields that help not only the military, but society at large."
Ewing said he isn't anti-military. Another of his objections to Starbase is that it appears to redirect money that could be used to buy better equipment and body armor for soldiers in Iraq, he said.
After attending Starbase with his daughter's fifth-grade class Monday, Larry Risley wonders whether Ewing and the other parents are overreacting.
"It was pretty sophisticated stuff, showing how planes fly and the properties of air," he said. "You actually felt like you were in a classroom. We didn't even see the airbase."
Michele Shultz, Winterhaven's PTSA president, is equally perplexed, especially because parents send their children to the school to focus on math and science -- not politics. "I've heard that parents kept students out to protest the Iraq war," she said. "I can't follow that line of logic."
But for Jessica Applegate-Brown, making the connection was easy: If she openly talks about her opposition to the Iraq war around her fourth-grade son, how could she encourage him to spend time around soldiers and war machines?
"I'm objecting to the climate we're in right now," she said. "Ten years ago, this may have not been a big deal. But now, it is."
Joseph Rose: 503-221-8029; firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, of course they are - they're leftist loonies.
Losers. Losers who will be the parents of losers.
Never underestimate the stupidity and mendacity of a liberal. There is more military recruiting going on in one episode of "Stargate SG-1" than anything this writer is worried about.
3 to 1, seems to be the correct number of people that love this country.
Of course when you add in the MSM its a coin toss.
Applegate-Brown...huh..a hyphenated last name, I wonder if there's any correlation with that and being a horses arse...
Well, if the parents don't want the kids to participate, then they shouldn't. Same as if I had my kid in public school (like THAT'LL happen) and they started doing that whole "play Muslim for a month" thing.
Of course, that doesn't mean the parents aren't idiot barking moonbats. But, it should be their call.
oops 5 to 1
Which is one of the reasons Bonnie Hammer canceled SG-1...
I would like to go.
My son attended this camp, held at Naval Station San Diego.
There is no military indoctrination involved (not that we would care--being exMilitary). It is a voluntary camp. These kids aren't forced to go. Also, it is geared towards lower income kids (but I got him in anyway).
? SG-1 canceled? Why wasn't I told about this?
What an analyst... a financial genius who should direct all the logistics and related procurement for our military operations.
"Science camp = body armor". Why not cancer research? Why not homeless vets?
What a fag.
If I were a little kid again, I would have given my right arm to be able to go to this class.
Yep this season is the last...
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