As a co-chair of Choice for Students/JROTC, I was involved for the passage of Proposition V this past November. Additional development has taken place at the California Department of Education regarding the issue of physical education credits for the JROTC program that has clarified the local school board’s authority to grant such credits. Some of you may remember the school board voted to take away PE credits from JROTC fearing the granting of such credits would be in violation of state law under the education code. The California Department of Education has opined and issued a written clarification stating local school board does have authority to grant PE credits to programs such as JROTC and Marching Bands.
JROTC is sponsored and partially paid for by the Department of Defense. Fifty percent of the instructors’ salaries and the cost of 100% of all program related materials are paid by the Department of Defense. When the program was granted PE credits toward graduation, the program had enrolled over 1,600 students. Our district is facing an unprecedented financial shortage this coming school year. Reinstating JROTC will give our district some welcomed financial relief. The San Diego School Board recently voted to grant PE credits to its JROTC participants citing its acknowledgement of California Department of Education’s clarification.
Now that San Franciscans have spoken and Prop. V has won. What kind of message are we sending to the students who are learning the values of democracy if the school board does not act? Proposition V was approved by a large majority of San Franciscans and we are governed by the ideal that government entities must follow the will of the people. If the school board does not reinstate JROTC, it illustrates their lack of acceptance for the principles of our constitution, and exemplifies a lack of respect for the will of the people.
Assemblywoman Fiona Ma recently introduced legislation at the state level to grant PE credits to JROTC participants and to compel the San Francisco Unified School District School Board to reinstate JROTC. Her legislation simply put forth what the San Francisco School Board has failed to do thus far, which is to obey the wishes of the people.
When the State of Alabama refused to allow “Negroes” to attend an all white school, it took the actions of the Federal government to forced Alabama to accept integration. When a City School Board refuses to implement the will of its voters, it is perfectly appropriate for the State to compel such school board to act in accordance with the will of the people. I simply don’t understand why the school board has not taken any actions to resolve this issue. Regardless of how we feel about JROTC personally, it is a voluntary program. What gives us the right to deny others the chance to participate in a program of their choosing?
The SFUSD School Board needs to reinstate JROTC immediately. San Franciscans have stated the abolishment of JROTC was a mistake and needs to be rectified. Addressing this issue locally without being compelled by the State is the reasonable course that our school board must take.