To the editor:
The JROTC program is designed to teach high school students the elements of citizenship and leadership, and the values of scholarship, self-discipline, and personal responsibility. JROTC is not designed to "recruit" for the military, and military recruiters are not involved. The military context emphasizes service to others, the community, and the country.
School boards are not turning JROTC away; schools are standing in line to add JROTC. The Topeka school district has Air Force, Marine, and Navy units, and will add an Army unit next fall. The success of their first programs created a desire for more.
The services are not soliciting schools but are having to choose from waiting lists of schools which strongly desire JROTC programs. Host schools are only asked to provide normal classroom support and room for uniform storage. The military service provides all books, uniforms, and materials. Instructors are retired military personnel, and the school district pays only a part of their salary. For less than the cost of a teacher fresh out of college, military officers come with masters degrees and more than 20 years of life experience to share with students.
Weapons training is not part of the curriculum, and rifles and pistols are not used in drill or training. Drill (marching) is an important element of the curriculum, and develops leadership and followership skills, and quick thinking and reactive skills.
JROTC provides an alternative to gangs, with a useful, healthy, drug-free atmosphere which engenders a feeling of membership in a group devoted to community service, pride in self-accomplishment, and pride in one's school, community, and country. Members of JROTC programs are respected members of the student body, and are frequently leaders in the school academic and sports programs.
Colin Powell champions JROTC as playing a major role in empowering American youth and developing them as solid, contributing citizens. The Kansas high schools with JROTC are enthusiastically endorsed by students, families, teachers, and administrators. Our great Lawrence students deserve no less.