Currently, war weighs heavily on the minds of many American citizens, especially with the Overseas Contingency Operations, a politically correct euphemism for the War on Terror. As such, many oppose recruitment for U.S. military at educational institutions. This anti-recruitment position is understandable but misguided.
The U.S. military possesses legal and moral rights to continue recruiting students at public high school campuses. Recruitment practices, supported by the passage of multiple federal laws, are supported by the relationship between the central government and public education. From a simpler standpoint, the military is a career option and retains the right to recruit people for jobs.
Military recruitment at schools derives its legal support from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which requires federally funded high schools to provide recruiters with certain student information. Since public high schools receive money from the federal government, it can be said that such schools are a subset of the federal government. Consequently, the government ought to retain the right to promote its own interests on school campuses. Given that the viability of the U.S. military is one of the government’s primary goals, the military should be allowed to recruit students.
Impeding military recruitment would be tantamount to impeding the American virtue of liberty. The federal government has recognized this; NCLB provides that military recruiters receive the same access to students granted to other employers and colleges. If military recruitment was barred at schools, the government would effectively be subordinating the interests of a single organization. Such discrimination would directly contradict American democratic principles of equality.
Some think that the young age of high school students overrides the previous arguments for military recruitment. However, the military should retain the same rights as other employers—if other organizations can recruit students, then the military should be able to as well.
Military recruitment practices at public high schools are rooted in concrete legal and moral principles. Any actions to circumscribe recruitment would undermine both laws and ethics, and the prized American virtues would crumble in the face of hypocrisy.