Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Emergency Legislation To Save JROTC in SF Schools

SAN FRANCISCO -- The school board’s decision to eliminate physical education credit for the military’s JROTC program faces a possible override by an emergency bill in the state legislature.

The measure introduced Wednesday by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma requires two-thirds approval to save what has become a lightning rod of controversy in the city.

“The voters have spoken,” Ma said, referring to the failure of a non-binding measure on November’s ballot that would have urged the Board of Education to reverse it’s decision.

“I just believe this is about our kids, their future and about opportunities for them,” she said.

San Francisco schools will phase out the Junior Reserve Officer Training Program from their PE curriculum in June unless Ma’s bill passes.

What Ma and many parents hail as a valuable way to teach leadership and instill discipline has been criticized as little more than a tool for military recruiters.

Nelson Lum, a parent of a JROTC student at Washington High School, said it would be horrible if his daughter were to to lose the program.

“She would be devastated because she considered that her second family. It would be a big impact,” he told KCBS reporter Barbara Taylor.

The polemic against JROTC in city schools has been fueled by opposition to the Iraq war.