Should the military continue recruiting at high schools?

Regarding the May 18 article "Rift over recruiting at public high schools," which discussed a PTA that voted against military recruitment on their campus: I wonder whether concerned parents are at risk of, no pun intended, "winning the battle and losing the war."

The demands for a US military of a certain sustained size are real. The country has not always had a purely volunteer military. Enlistment goals are already being missed. Cutting off further access to potential recruits is far more likely to result in a re instatement of mandatory enlistment or a draft than it is to result in a modification of US military activity in the world to a basis acceptable to each and every American.

As a parent of children who will eventually be old enough to enlist, I would rather allow military recruiters to visit schools so that I could participate in the evaluation of whether military service would be a great opportunity for my child.
David Felts
Atlanta, Ga.

A better question for high school parents to raise about military recruiters is the integrity of their promises.

An Air Force recruiter promised my babysitter's son that he would not have to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. The recruiter, however, had no apparent way to make good on this promise, nor can recruits get out of their agreements to enlist if a recruiter's meaningless promise is broken.

Should public schools tacitly support such predation upon students who are not even old enough to sign contracts when the discussions first start?

I don't think public schools should take a stand on the war per se, but they should not allow any kind of dishonest job recruiters to have access to children.
Carol E. Jackson
Rochester Hills, Mich.

Nostalgia for a 1950s sense of control

Steven Mintz's April 28 opinion piece, "A 'golden age' of childhood?," is right that many of the forces that have so weakened community and family life in recent decades took root - or at least advanced - in the '50s.

Throughout that period, many communities surrendered control of their schools to distant central authorities such as the state education departments and central offices of consolidated school districts. Such actions greatly diluted parents' influence over their children's educations.

Clumsy diversity-engineering projects, including busing for racial balance, also put heavy pressure on many communities - wiping out, in particular, thousands of neighborhoods in urban areas, and driving the middle-class from cities.

The '50s were a better time to raise children and participate in civic life because families still had much greater control over their communities. Most of the forces impinging on family life were weak. Since that era, the vast expansion of state, federal, and judicial powers has greatly reduced a citizen's sense of community and an incentive for civic involvement.
Tom Shuford
Lenoir, N.C.

Cheap labor: harmful to everyone

Froma Harrop's May 15 opinion piece, "Illegal aliens: Democrats stumped," tells how Cesar Chavez organized farm workers in the 1960s when the Bracero program was abolished. Chavez was so against illegal immigration, which lowered wages and working conditions, that he sent his people to the border to discourage entry. In 2001, with illegal aliens pouring in, California had 1.1 million farm workers for 388,000 jobs at an annual average salary of $11,518.

Moral: "cheap" labor for employers hurts even recent immigrants.
Maggie Art
Carmel, Calif.

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