As part of the plan, one of the JROTC instructors will likely lose her job. Jackie Ring, a fully-credentialed teacher who was brought on board a few years ago under pressure from the union, will go. Peter Palen, whose only teaching certification is from the Navy, will stay. Questions to the board about this decision were left predictably unanswered.
Adeline Wright spoke on behalf of parents who don't think sparing JROTC is a good idea (statement below).
The big surprise came from a woman who took the podium and identified herself as a former employee of the Navy Recruiting Command. She praised JROTC as a "great program", but agreed with Adeline that if the district is short on cash, it should "go into books" and not JROTC. She also explained that JROTC cadets do NOT have an edge when it comes to applying for the Naval Academy, which is one of the arguments that spared JROTC in the first place. (Truth in Recruiting activists had pointed this out months ago, but this time board members seemed to listen).
The details of the compromise are not set in stone. The board won't formalize the 2009-2010 school budget until its June meeting. In the meantime, keep the pressure on. Tell the board and administration that they should close JROTC at the end of this year, but if they insist on phasing it out to do so responsibly. This means:
1. Close JROTC enrollment to new students; and
2. Make sure that the one teacher they keep to instruct the class is fully credentialed and union!
Duluth School Board
Mary Cameron (At Large): mary.cameron@ duluth.k12. mn.us; 341-8893
Laura Condon (District 4): laura.condon@ duluth.k12. mn.us; 624-7045
Gary Glass (At Large): gary.glass@duluth. k12.mn.us; 525-2384
Tim Grover (District 3): tim.grover@duluth. k12.mn.us; 722-5961
Nancy Nilsen (At Large): nancy.nilsen@ duluth.k12. mn.us; 628-2125
Judy Seliga Punyko (District 2): Judy.SeligaPunyko@ duluth.k12. mn.us; 525-4688
Ann Wasson (District 1): ann.wasson@duluth. k12.mn.us; 728-1931
Joe Hill: joe.hill@duluth. k12.mn.us; 336-8739
Adeline Wright's statement to the Duluth school board
As the mother of a Duluth Public school student and a successful local business owner, I am concerned about your recent decision to fund JROTC for another year and maybe more, even as you have cut specialist time in grade schools and made deep cuts to co-curricular activities.
I say this with respect for the JROTC students who are here tonight; they are upstanding kids. But it is important to look at the big picture.
In order to fund the $170,000 JROTC program, you will have to make that money up from somewhere else. Does this explain the $200,000 in cuts that we read about in the paper this morning? If so, this move seems short sighted considering sports and other co-curricular programs promote self esteem and teambuilding equal to JROTC and, as far as I know, are not struggling with enrollment. It’s my understanding that JROTC is at 50% enrollment and decreasing every year. Why is it being singled out among all of these other good programs?
Many of my federal tax dollars are already going to the military. Since the military considers JROTC one of its best recruiting programs, it seems that we should ask them to pick up the cost of the program rather than pay for it out of our scarce district resources.
JROTC is clearly important to many students, but you can’t deny that it is controversial and at this point it doesn’t make fiscal sense. Members of the board have said that they want to keep JROTC in fairness to the juniors in the program. But I encourage the board and administration to consider the worth of your time and realize that if you keep JROTC, you will be faced with the very same emotional and time-consuming debate about next year’s juniors, and the next year’s.
It's a hard decision and some kids might be disappointed, but don’t forget about all of the thousands of kids who are not participating in JROTC and are going to lose out on programs that are just as dear to them as JROTC is for these students. Please stop funding JROTC at the end of this year. Thank you.