The entire freshman class at Carvers Bay High School in South Carolina has been enrolled in JROTC classes. The principal, who happens to also be a retired Navy man, says that the Marine JROTC fulfills the physical education requirement at the Freshman Academy.
But Charles Holloway, the parent of a freshman student at Carvers Bay, said he did not want his son in that program and when he asked that his son be taken out, his son was put in a class by himself.Holloway said he feels his son was being punished for not wanting to take part in that class.
Holloway said the JROTC class simply showed up on his son’s schedule in place of gym class and he did not receive any information about the class or how to get his son out of it.
According to the South Carolina Department of Education, high school students must take at least one credit of physical education in order to graduate. ROTC can also fill that requirement.
While it’s fine to allow ROTC to fulfill the P.E. requirement, making it mandatory is not necessary. There are many students and parents who object to forced military classes and presumed recruitment.
Neal said he initiated the program because studies show that students in leadership programs are more likely to stay in school and graduate. He said so far the program has had an “extremely high positive response,” but “any parent who did not want their son or daughter [to participate] has the opportunity to participate in other elective classes.”
If this were true, then why did he require students to enroll in the classes to begin with. Why not inform them of their choices and let the students and their parents decide whether to take ROTC or regular P.E. classes?
Neal said letters and fliers about Ninth Grade Academy were sent to parents. The class is an elective and students had the option to select other programs as well, he said, but noted that the ninth grade class was “enrolled” in the program.
You can’t have it both ways. It’s either an elective or it’s not. You can’t claim that the class is optional when you’ve forced an entire class of students to enroll in ROTC. This case is similar to many privacy issues found on the internet. The individual finds themselves in a situation where they must take the action and opt-out of what is unwanted. In the mean time, students might feel peer pressure to stay in the ROTC program so that they aren’t ostracized by those who choose to stay in. given the fact that the principal is a former military man, students may also feel as if they must stay in ROTC or face punishment later from the principal who is a huge authority figure in a school.
Adding students to an ROTC program without properly informing parents is irresponsible and bordering on criminal. The US military is a volunteer force. There is no valid reason to make students feel like they have to enroll in a pre-military program.
While many people are comparing this to beginnings of the Hitler Youth movement, and there are similarities, there is also concern as to whether such a move by the principal is even legal. Until there is legal action, every freshman should challenge this action and return to regular P.E. instead.