Archive for Wednesday, November 14, 2012

State board of education debates course credit for JROTC

November 14, 2012


— Curtis Kelley is both a Topeka High School teacher and a Chief Warrant Officer 3 in the United States Marine Corps.

As the leader of the school’s Marine junior ROTC program, he takes students through military-like physical training two days a week. Other days, he teaches academics, including vocabulary and military history. And he drills them with strict uniform inspections.

“Mediocrity is not a term used in my classroom,” Kelley told the Kansas State Board of Education on Wednesday.

Kelley believes the conditioning his students receive is every bit as rigorous as what they would get from a traditional physical education class.

But instead of getting a full PE credit, his students get only a half credit for a full year of participation. They have to take part for two full years to earn the one unit of PE credit required for high school graduation.

State board member David Dennis of Wichita thinks that should change.

Elevating junior ROTC programs to full-credit PE classes, Dennis said, would not only encourage more students to take part in the program and improve their physical fitness, it might also boost the participation rate in the programs, which are struggling to keep their certification because of declining enrollment numbers.

“The whole reason we’re looking at it is that today, 25 percent of our high school graduates are eligible to go into the military,” said Dennis, a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

He said that’s mainly due to one of three reasons: either they’re not physically fit; they can’t pass the entrance test; or “they’ve made some poor decisions in life,” such as committing offenses that disqualify them from military service.

The program at Topeka High is one of only two Marine junior ROTC programs in Kansas. The other, at Northeast Magnet School in the Wichita school district, is currently on probation because of lack of participation.

The Lawrence school district does not offer a junior ROTC program for any branch of the military.

Kelley said programs need to maintain at least 100 participants to stay certified. His has 148 students.

But not everyone agrees that junior ROTC belongs in the health and physical education curriculum, including many PE teachers.

In Kansas, the decision about whether to grant credit, and how much credit to grant, is up to local boards of education.

Mark Thompson, who directs the Healthy Kansas Schools project for the State Department of Education, said that in Wichita, school officials tried to develop a “crosswalk” between PE and junior ROTC to see if they had enough in common to justify offering PE credit.

“A crosswalk was developed,” Thompson said. “It did involve a heavy amount of the Wichita physical educators who looked at the crosswalk and did not find what they felt was significant enough overlap to sign off on a PE credit for JROTC participation.”

Some members of the state board indicated they would support a state rule granting junior ROTC programs full status as PE classes. But board member Sally Cauble of Liberal said she was not willing to infringe on “local control.”

The board is expected to revisit the issue next month and may vote on specific proposals for assigning credit to junior ROTC programs.


toe 3 years ago

To maintains American's commitment to continuous war and domination of all world cultures, we need an endless supply of compliant participants. Commonly referred to as armed service members. JROTC should be banned at all schools and Peace should be taught for credit. Learning how to build a house or make water safe to drink is far more worthy and you can get some exercise as well. Getting fit to swing a hammer is far superior to learning how to bring the hammer down on a fellow human being.

jj14 3 years ago

I was thinking the opposite of what you said until I read your entire post. Well stated - you changed my mind on this issue.

Anthony Mall 3 years ago

If you don't feel the need to stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them... hope you never have to see what the 1% is willing to do so you can have your house, unemployment, welfare, and even idiotic opinions!!!

Armored_One 3 years ago

I took 3 years of JROTC in high school. There was no teaching of combat skills, only simple things, like learning to address superior officers with respect. How to pay attention to details. Ethics, codes of conduct, respect and integrity were also taught.

You, toe, are a fool if you think those kinds of things shouldn't be taught. They certainly won't be taught in a PE class, or English, or basically any other class. ROTC classes are maintained by military standards and are taught by current or retired military personnel.

Building principles are already taught in high school. It's called shop class. If you want your child exposed to it with greater depth, than convince them to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

If you have an issue with the military, then simply say so and get it out in the open, instead of blasting a class in school that teaches things that kids HAVE to know for the real world. 99% of high school is primer for college, not real world application. Understanding the ethics behind Beowulf will not help them get a job, but understanding the chain of command, so to speak, and knowing how to speak to their managers, supervisors, et cetera definately will.

Yes, my perspective is biased. But at least I am man enough to flat out say it and take no shame in admitting it. Are you? Although, if you are female, are you woman enough to admit it? My wife is, since she was in the same ROTC program as I was in high school.

Shelley Bock 3 years ago

I participated in JROTC and consider myself a complete liberal. I agree with Armored_One.

skinny 3 years ago

Toe, you have obviously lived a sheltered life. You need to get out and travel abroad before making such silly comments!

Anthony Mall 3 years ago

Wow!!! Pathetic, 75% of kids are not eligible to serve in the military.... It is a sad day for this society!!!! I'm embarrassed

Peter Hancock 3 years ago

Interesting comments. Kelley did note a common misconception. He says junior ROTC is not a recruiting program. Calls it a "leadership" program. That was news to me too. Some participants eventually go into military, but many do not. Much like the rest of the student body. He says it emphasizes concepts like discipline, decisiveness, responsibility.

oldbaldguy 3 years ago

junior ROTC is a good program, it is an alternative for some kids who have never had organization in their life. some go on into the military, but I bet it is not many. toe you are entitled to your opinion, but you are naive if you really think, the military is unnecessary. i do not regret my time in the Army, there were days when i wished i was somewhere else. i served because i wanted to and the people i met were much more interesting than anyone i ever ran in to in college or after the service.

Curtis Lange 3 years ago

I was a member of JROTC in high school and AFROTC at KU for awhile. It is a great program that should be available to everyone. Why there isn't a JROTC program in Lawrence is mind boggling. Saying that, counting it as a PE credit seems asinine.

Armored_One 3 years ago

Counting PE towards graduation credits is no less inane, Curtis. I never did figure out why it counts as a PE credit, personally, but I wasn't all that concerned either way when I was in high school.

I've tried a couple of times to get some form of a JROTC program in the Lawrence high schools but deaf ears would have been more productive. You'd figure with Leavenworth being as close as it is, it shouldn't be a massive problem.

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