Privacy contest for Worcester high schoolers

posted by Mike on October 13th, 2006

At last, the opt-out contest is here.

Public high schools send their students’ personal info to military recruiters each fall, unless the students opt out.

This is not good. So we’ve started a contest.

The Worcester junior or senior class with the highest percentage of students opting out will win $250. Students should turn in opt-out forms (pdf) ASAP.

More info at the contest website. If you know any Worcester high schoolers, let them know about the contest. You can contact optout.admin@gmail.com for more info, too.

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10 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On October 18, 2006 at 12:47 papijoe said:

    Public high schools send their students’ personal info to military recruiters each fall, unless the students opt out.

    This is not good. So we’ve started a contest.

    I’d love to hear your case for a strong volunteer military service being a bad thing. Would you prefer conscription? Do you think having a strong immune system in your body is a bad thing as well?

    You don’t seem to realize how you crossed the line from informing to manipulating with cash incentives. Neither do you seem to have any awareness of the opportunity the military offers to underprivileged kids. Particularly when the public school system has failed them. Not to mention wasting their class time on your social agenda that frankly contributes nothing to their future success. So lets see what you’ve accomplished so far:

    1)Established a system that favors monetary gain over service to one’s country

    2)Wasted precious class time in schools that are already struggling to meet basic educational requirements

    3)Contributed to weakening the military’s recruiting efforts during wartime (fka treason)

    4)Limited access for underprivileged kids to economic and social mobility

    Not bad for one program, tovarisch!

    Since opting out is now seen as a good thing, how about letting poor kids have access to a better education by carving out some of that $12K entitlement public schools get in the form of vouchers? Then at least they could continue their studies unmolested by the social agendas of their badly educated elders.

  2. On October 18, 2006 at 13:01 Mike said:

    Thanks for your comment.

    I’d love to hear your case for a strong volunteer military service being a bad thing.

    I’m not doing this project to attack “volunteer military service.” The last time I checked, the military was reporting strong recruiting numbers, and spending plenty on advertising. I’ve never met a kid who didn’t know he or she could join the military.

    I’m doing this project because when we looked at the opt out percentages for different schools, these numbers were very different, and I wondered, “Is this because some schools are hiding this option from their students?” When this year’s numbers come in, we can see if the publicity made any difference. (Thanks, Clive!) If it didn’t then the schools are probably doing a good job of informing the students about the opt out option.

    Contributed to weakening the military’s recruiting efforts during wartime

    Congress passed the law allowing kids to opt out. A Republican Congress, if I remember correctly. Surely you wouldn’t accuse Congress of treason.

    Wasted precious class time in schools

    Do you know of any schools where classtime has been spent on this issue? (I don’t.)

    If the subject of this project came up in class, I can imagine it would lead to a good discussion about things like “the role of the military, the just-war theory and pacifism” (as Clive put it), which doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me. I suppose I think school should help kids learn about citizenship, along with reading and math.

  3. On October 18, 2006 at 20:45 papijoe said:

    You are being disingenuous Mike. You are not simple informing the students of the opt out clause you are paying them to take it!

    I don’t know why Leicester and Spencer had such high opt out rates, but I’d bet the farm there were staff and “concerned activists” like yourself encouraging it.

    I don’t have a problem with the opt out clause per se, but I do have a big issue with what you are doing. So if you are “not aware” of class time being spent on this, how are the students being notified? Are the being called at home? Please!

    I saw Joe O’Brien’s open letter on the indymedia site. It’s pretty clear where he and the two of you stand on this battle for mindshare in the student population. And it’s not a level playing field. The military recruiters would never dream of the stunt you are pulling.

    The saddest part is when I was on Parris Island (I never served active duty because of an injury)I met a number of young men whose lives were turned around by the role models they met. The drill instructors who started off being our worst nightmares turn out in time to be genuinely concerned with the young men who were once like them. Those who grew up with no fathers suddenly had a positive role model who taught them discipline and pride. They came in boys and left men.

    But I don’t expect you to understand what honor really means. Your shabby bribery of these student shows how foreign the concept really is to you.

  4. On October 19, 2006 at 08:17 Mike said:

    So if you are “not aware” of class time being spent on this, how are the students being notified? Are the being called at home? Please!

    Information packets (available for download on the project site) were sent to Junior and Senior Class Presidents, and the Junior and Senior Class Faculty Advisors. Our hope was that if they liked the idea of the project, student leaders would take the steps to make it happen.

    We also discussed the project with various administrators, and sent them packets, mostly to head off any misunderstandings before the project was launched.

  5. On October 19, 2006 at 09:00 papijoe said:

    How did you get the names of those students? Did they have the option of opting out of that list? Who were the faulty advisors involved? What was Joe O’Brien’s role in this?

  6. On October 19, 2006 at 09:09 Mike said:

    How did you get the names of those students? Did they have the option of opting out of that list? Who were the faulty advisors involved? What was Joe O’Brien’s role in this?

    I stopped by all the schools and handed the secretary envelopes with the info, labelled “Senior Class President,” “Senior Class Advisor,” and so on. It was actually pretty interesting, seeing the different security measures at the different schools.

    Joseph C. O’Brien (who Clive called “Timothy”) doesn’t have any role in the contest.

  7. On October 19, 2006 at 09:27 Mike said:

    BTW, when the project is over, we’re going to write up “How to Hold an Opt Out Contest” instructions. So if you’re interested in all the details, just hang on a month or two.

  8. On October 19, 2006 at 10:20 papijoe said:

    Joseph C. O’Brien (who Clive called “Timothy”) doesn’t have any role in the contest.

    Are you suggesting he had no awareness of it at all? You never discussed it? He wasn’t involved in any way in planning it?

    It would seem that he’s pretty tight with you and Kevin:

    http://worcester.indymedia.org/news/2004/09/284.php

  9. On October 19, 2006 at 10:32 Mike said:

    I don’t think I’ve met Joe O’Brien. In his article, Clive implies connections that aren’t there; maybe I should blog about his errors.

    Honestly, having someone on the School Committee participate in this project wouldn’t even be helpful. We just handed info packets to some school secretaries, and sent some e-mails to spread the word.

    The idea that this is a big conspiracy, or a big deal of any sort, is almost as amusing to me as the drawing of Kevin.

  10. On October 19, 2006 at 10:45 papijoe said:

    ok fair enough Mike

    You could also post something at the Telegram forum.

    I was reading some of Clive’s other columns and he has been very supportive of O’Brien in the past.

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