Assemblywoman Ma Introduces Legislation to Save JROTC
San Francisco – Flanked by hundreds of cadets and elected officials today at Lowell High School, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 233, in support of Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC). AB223 requires that San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) provide JROTC as an option in meeting the Physical Education (PE) graduation requirements. Without any action, JROTC will be eliminated from San Francisco's public schools in June, 2009.
"This program works -- It's a leadership development opportunity for thousands of students and a valuable resource for minority women," said Assemblywoman Ma. "Last November, San Francisco voters emphatically supported JROTC and the time for the School Board to act is now."
The mission of the JROTC program is "to motivate young people to be better citizens." Along with this mission of civic responsibility, the program also fosters character development, leadership skills, and physical fitness. Students of all genders, races, and sexual orientations participate in the JROTC program, and openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender pupils are among the cadets and cadet leadership.
In November 2008, the voters of San Francisco overwhelmingly passed Proposition V, which urged the San Francisco City Unified School District to support the JROTC program by continuing to make it available to students of the district.
"The JROTC program in our San Francisco public schools has provided leadership training and community service opportunities for countless high school students, and I commend Assemblywoman Fiona Ma for her efforts in preserving this invaluable program," said Supervisor Carmen Chu.
For More Information: Contact Alex Tourk, Tourk@gfpublicaffairs.com, (415) 291-9501 or (415) 215-1199.
AB 223 – Assemblywoman Fiona Ma
Joint Author: Assemblymember Lieu
Principal Co-Author: Assemblymember Cook
Reinstating JROTC & P.E. Credits
AB 223 (Ma) will require the San Francisco Unified School District to reinstate JROTC and grant JROTC participants P.E. credit for graduation.
For over 90 years, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has participated in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program, providing high school students, particularly from low income families and communities-of-color, the option to participate in the before and after school leadership program that fosters teamwork, health and physical fitness, self-esteem, and community service. With half the funds from federal dollars, the program has been known to be very inclusive and supportive of all students, including many openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) student participants and cadet staff. The rigorous physical education component allows many students to waive their State Physical Education (P.E.) requirement, allowing students to graduate on time, like many athletic programs. Over 90% of the JROTC participants go on to pursue higher education, and only 3% join the armed forces.
In 2006, the San Francisco School Board narrowly voted to eliminate JROTC as an option for students. Although JROTC instructors are prohibited from recruiting, as defined in JROTC regulations, and the program does not abide by the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, the School Board claims that the program is used as a military recruitment tool and discriminates against LGBT students. The school board's decision created a huge public outcry, which led to a public initiative in the 2008 election:
Proposition V. Prop V declares that the School Board should provide San Francisco public high school students the option to participate in JROTC. Proposition V passed with an overwhelming 55% of the vote.
Problem and Solution:
Although Proposition V has passed, the Board has not enacted or indicated the enactment of any measures to reinstate JROTC programs, which will expire at the end of this school year, June 2009. AB 223 will require the SFUSD to reinstate JROTC effective immediately.
Due to the State's unprecedented budget situation, local jurisdictions are in a greater need for funding. The complete elimination of JROTC will force students to find other avenues for P.E. credit, which will require more state dollars. Reinstating JROTC will keep federal dollars in our local school districts, provide students with more choices and save the SFUSD possibly thousands of dollars. To ensure these savings, AB 223 will also require that participants in JROTC be granted P.E. credit.
Eric Dang at 916-319-2012