It's unconscionable that ASVAB results are the only information leaving American schools regarding children without providing for parental consent, but the tide is turning.
Diane Wood with the Texas Coalition to Protect Student Privacy reflects common sense Lone Star State attitudes, "I support the military but I got fired up when I discovered this egregious violation of civil liberties that's been going on entirely unnoticed. I don't care if it's the Department of Defense or who ever. The thing that's surprised me is that this privacy campaign has resonated with Tea Party activists down here. We all see ASVAB testing as an unwarranted and illegal federal incursion into our lives." It's a peculiar campaign that attracts allies on opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Wood's tireless organizing and her testimony to the nationally maligned Texas State School Board probably contributed to Texas testing 6,600 fewer students in 2012-2013 than the year before. In Texas Option 8 rates increased from 14.7% to 15.5% while the number of students forced to take the test shrunk from 15,805 to 4,825 and the number of schools requiring students to take the ASVAB decreased from 181 to 70.
In many states, smart, targeted community activism has been shown to translate into quantifiable results.
Barbara Harris with the New York Coalition to Protect Student Privacy has been at it for years and has helped to eliminate mandatory testing in the Empire State. "We've witnessed several trends here in New York. The number of test takers continues to drop, the percentage of schools that have selected Release Option 8 continues to rise, and mandatory testing has disappeared. I'm hopeful we'll soon get the Board of Regents to mandate Option 8 across the state."
It's the same in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Seth Kershner with the Connecticut Coalition to Protect Students Privacy reports, "Testing numbers in Connecticut and Massachusetts have plummeted in recent years to about 4,000 in each state. There's no mandatory testing. Nearly half of the students being tested do so under Option 8. We're hoping to duplicate successes in Hawaii and Maryland and have policies or laws enacted that mandate Option 8."
Oregon's school officials have responded to our campaign. Don Chapin with the Oregon Coalition to Protect Student Privacy reports that 57.2 % of students taking the test have Option 8 selected. See the statistics on the National Coalition's website www.studentprivacy.org
Will Hopkins with the Coalition in New Hampshire has lobbied to introduce a bill in the New Hampshire. HB 1321 mirrors Maryland's law.
Outreach to moderate school board members in the north citing privacy concerns are often taken into consideration, resulting in policy changes. In the South and the Midwest, however, many responses have been hostile, especially after school officials consult with their local military entrance processing command.
If the Pentagon called the shots across the country every high school student would be subjected to taking the ASVAB for enlistment purposes. The program is fraudulent but it is sponsored by the military, a sacrosanct institution that remains above constitutional restraint and the rule of law in the view of many American school officials and state legislators. We must convince them otherwise.
Pat Elder is the Director of the National Coalition to Protect Student
Mandatory military testing is common in American high schools.
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