“Don’t opt out” contest announced

posted by Mike on October 27th, 2006

The Telegram & Gazette’s excellent Jacqueline Reis writes:

Edward F. Behn of Westboro, whose oldest son is a U.S. Marine serving in Iraq, has offered to donate $2,500 to the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust in honor of the Worcester high school senior class with the lowest percentage of students who “opt out” of allowing information about themselves to be provided to recruiters.

Interesting that he’s not a Worcester resident. Not bad, just an interesting twist.

Mr. Ksen doesn’t see Mr. Behn’s offer as a counter-contest, because the original contest was focused on privacy, not being anti-military, he said. The coalition’s efforts, he said, are to make more people aware that schools provide basic contact information to recruiters unless they are asked to withhold it.


Mr. Benedetti welcomed Mr. Behn’s offer. “I’m actually legitimately really happy that somebody’s going to donate $2,500 to Disabled American Veterans,” he said. “If everybody’s giving money to good causes, then how can you complain?”

A local shopkeeper, hearing of the counter-contest, told me, “It’s like The Producers!” If your school does well, or poorly, then you win, otherwise you get nothing. If students were taking these contests seriously, I’d guess that schools with historically high opt-out rates would shoot for winning the opt-out contest, and those with low rates woulod shoot for the don’t-opt-out prize. The playing field would fragment.

Fragmenting the playing field even more, only the senior classes are eligible for the don’t-opt-out contest; both junior and senior classes can compete in the original contest. (Not that I think there is much competing going on.)

So far this school year, 623, or about 20 percent, of the city’s juniors and seniors have decided to withhold their information from recruiters, according to Deputy Superintendent Stephen E. Mills. That number has increased every year since the federal law took effect in 2003. That year, the district had 248 opt-outs, or about 9 percent of juniors and seniors.


It’s unclear whether word of either contest has made its way to students’ ears. Mr. Benedetti and Mr. Ksen dropped off information about their contest at five Worcester high schools and requested it go to the junior and senior class presidents and their advisers. Mr. Behn addressed his to Mayor Timothy P. Murray, who is also School Committee chairman.

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  1. On October 27, 2006 at 14:26 Mike said:

    Letter in today’s paper: “It’s right to deny students’ names to military”

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