“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.
Read the rest of this entry »

Youths are drafted by anti-anti-army

posted by Mike on October 25th, 2006

Just got off the phone with the T&G’s Jackie Reis. If I heard correctly, a guy is starting an anti-opt-out contest for Worcester’s schools. He’ll donate $2500 to the Disabled American Veterans in the name of whichever class has the lowest opt-out rate.

This is great!

  • More parents and students will learn about opting out. The opt-out rates at the Worcester high schools are so low that any publicity, pro or con, will probably educate people about opting out.
  • As the grandson of a disabled American veteran, and as someone who’s met more than a few disabled vets through my work with the homeless, I’m really happy that he’s donating to this charity. If the opt-out contest accomplishes nothing else, it has raised $2500 for the vets. (Note that our prize is a mere $250. If we’d made ours $1000, would the counter-prize have been $10,000? Something to think about for next year.)
  • This is exactly how people should settle their differences. “Oh yeah? Think you’re so tough? We’ll see who can donate more to a good cause!” Reminds me of when Bill’s Place set up a competing soup kitchen as part of a feud with the St. John’s crowd.

The only bad thing about this is that it complicates matters. When this year’s opt-out numbers are released, there are too many variables to be able to say if any of these contests had an effect. I was a bit concerned that we announced our contest too late in the year for kids to act on it. The counter-contest, if it happens, will be really late in the school year. Any kid or parent who’s going to opt out has probably done so by now. Is that kid going to turn in another form to un-opt-out in order to get his school’s name on a check to the DAV? Seems unlikely.

(N.B. The title of this post is a play on the title of Clive McFarlane’s confused column about the original contest.)

Aftermath, part one

posted by Mike on October 19th, 2006

Detail from a cartoon by David Hitch The T&G ran an editorial cartoon about the project today. (Detail: Kevin Ksen saying “Strange . . . do you feel a draft?”)

Speaking of a draft, yesterday I spoke with many supportive Worcester folks, and one of them told me stories of the people she’d met who grew up poor or were black and who said, “The military gave me a chance when nobody else would!”

When your country is set up so that poor or black people are dying so that rich or white people don’t have to, that’s bullshit.

Some peaceniks say, “If we had a draft, we wouldn’t be in Iraq today,” but I’m not so sure. I do think that a draft would be more fair than the so-called “poverty draft” we have today. (Though the sons of the truly powerful were able to dodge the old draft well enough.)


posted by Mike on October 17th, 2006

CBGB: There’s been talk that CBGB might move to Vegas, now that it’s closed its doors in NYC. Bruce spoke out about this last night:

That’s like moving The Whisky to Worcester. That’s like moving the Old Grey Whistle Test to LA. It doesn’t work.

Darfur: You can now look at high-res satellite pix of burned villages in Darfur.

Halloween: Global Exchange’s Fair Trade Trick or Treat Action Kit is plain nifty. I was digging through one at a friend’s house last week. Wish I knew about it in time to order some for other friends.

Opting Out: Today I talked to T&G columnist Clive McFarlane about the Opt Out project. Taking my own advice, I wrote down what I wanted to say on an index card, and tried to avoid saying anything but those things.
Note card

Clive asked why the project only focuses on schools giving kids’ private info to military recruiters, when schools also give kids’ info to colleges. These seem like very different things to me, but I don’t know much about how schools give that info to colleges, and hadn’t really thought it through.

I tried to avoid this question in a nice way. If Clive writes a column about the project, we’ll find out if I succeeded.

After our conversation, I phoned some of the other people helping with the project, and one said to me:

Schools are not required to give info to colleges by federal law. It’s not legislated. That’s the difference.

That sounds about right to me. Back when I was in high school, we opted in to having info sent to colleges. And the policies seemed like they were under local, rather than federal, control.

(The Telegram website should really have homepages for Mr. McFarlane and Ms. Williamson. Why no respect for the city columnists?)

posted by Mike in Items, Worcester Students Opt Out | on October 17th, 2006 | Permanent Link to “Items” | 3 Comments »

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.