By Joseph Wun

Pat Elder of World Beyond War will give a free talk, “Countering Military Recruitment in Public Schools & Confronting Contamination Near Military Bases,” on Thursday, Feb. 21. He will share his views with all those wanting to transform a culture of violence and war to a culture of peace and creation. Come hear and question Elder at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, KC MO, 7-8:30 pm.

Elder’s core work calls for demilitarizing U.S. schools. As the school is a place of social formation for youth, the militarization of this setting allows for a manifold conditioning to the normative existence of war-making. Whether a recruited student enlists or not, the collaboration of schools with the military enforces the mythos of the military as a social good, as a legitimate (even paramount) social authority. Destabilizing this structural infiltration is in the category of first steps for promoting peace.

Elder’s process emerges from exposing, and then uprooting, the at-present firm, yet often subtle, grip the U.S. military has upon education in this country. Namely, Elder raises alarm regarding the non-consensual access that military recruiters have to students, and what can be done to counter this de facto presence and power. Schools often forward their students’ information to military recruiters without parental consent. Additionally, even further information regarding students’ abilities is forwarded by administering the military’s career aptitude test. This deceptive three-hour assessment claims to help students decide on a range of civilian career options for students while its purpose is to provide leads to military recruiters. Elder calls for parental consent before information from the test is used for recruiting purposes.

Regarding the “opt-out” issue, Elder will present a legislative approach that would require parents to complete a form that asks if they consent to the release of directory information to recruiters. Elder also plans to address contamination from military facilities such as the former Bannister Federal Complex in KC. For more information, contact Henry Stoever, 913-206-4088, HenryStoever@sbcglobal.net.

—Joseph Wun, of Jerusalem Farm in KC MO, serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board.