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Guest Pat Elder

DC School Officials Ban Military's ASVAB Test

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Guest Pat Elder

The District of Columbia Public Schools, apparently responding to multiple requests by city residents and recent experiences in neighboring jurisdictions, has taken the extraordinary step of banning the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test from all public schools in Washington, DC.

 

In a letter dated February 29, 2008, Sara Wilson, of the Critical Response Team of the Office of the Chancellor wrote to DC activist John Judge, "After speaking with Kimberly Hood-Berry, the Deputy Chief for Academic Support Services and the Head Counselor, Merita Carter, they have decided to look for an alternative career exploration test to be used in place of ASVAB. While they are searching for the best alternative, counselors will be informed not to use ASVAB."

 

The ASVAB is regarded by many counter-recruitment activists as the military's number one recruiting tool. The exam is administered to 605,000 public school children across the country every year. It is used by the military to determine the occupations of new recruits but the military also uses it as a fast track for high school children to enlist. The test results are good for two years, while the test is typically administered to juniors. After the 4 hour exam is scored, military representatives meet with children to discuss career options.

 

Although internal military documents identify the ASVAB as a recruiting device, it is marketed in schools as a "career exploration program".

 

Last month, officials from neighboring Prince George's County, Maryland were outraged when they discovered the military had not informed them of the option to withhold the private information of children who took the ASVAB. Although military regulations call for providing schools with the option to preclude private information from reaching the hands of recruiters, Prince George's officials say they were never informed.

 

The ASVAB is administered under the guise of a "Career Exploration Program". Children across the country are strongly encouraged or forced to take the test. High schools in 31 states require all juniors to take the ASVAB. Their social security numbers, private information, and test results provide a treasure-trove of information to recruiters. The information gathered from the ASVAB is used by recruiters in a sophisticated recruiting program tailored to individual children.

 

When DC officials were notified that the true intention of the ASVAB was to provide leads for military recruiters, they axed the program.

 

The U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) is supposed to provide school systems eight options regarding the release of private information gathered after administering the ASVAB. The options range from Option 1, which calls for releasing test results to recruiting services in seven days, to Option 8, which disallows any results from reaching the hands of recruiters.

 

This form, provided by military representatives to Prince George's County, MD School Officials, omits Option 8:

dc.indymedia.org/media/anti-warwar/display/35882/index.php

 

When notified that 8 options actually existed, Prince George's officials immediately moved to protect the privacy of students in that jurisdiction by selecting Option 8.

 

School officials in Montgomery, Maryland were also unaware of the option to withhold test results from military recruiting services. When they learned of Option 8 two years ago, Montgomery officials changed their policy by requiring parental permission to take the test and selecting Option 8 in schools across that sprawling district. Officials in the Los Angeles Unified School District and several others nationally have moved to protect the privacy of children who take the ASVAB.

 

Military recruiters have come under fire in recent years for their unscrupulous methods. The Government Accounting Office, (GAO) documented 6,600 cases of recruiter malfeasance two years ago. All of the major media networks except Fox have documented lies told by military recruiters.

 

In early March, press advisories were sent to 120 major national media outlets regarding the decision by DC school officials to ban the military test. Three reporters and the education editor of the Washington Post were also contacted regarding this potentially explosive story. The Washington Post is the parent company of Kaplan, Inc. Kaplan produces ASVAB test preparation booklets. The company has also been instrumental in helping the military develop its controversial "March 2 Success" program that helps high school children prepare for standardized tests while peppering them with come-ons from the military. www.march2success.com/index.cfm

 

See USMEPCOM Regulation 601.4 Personnel Procurement Student Testing Program 25 July, 2005, pages 12 & 13 for an explanation of the various options available to public school systems: www.mepcom.army.mil/publications/pdf/regs/r-0601-004.pdf

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