Legislators Introduce Bill to Stop School Policies that Block Military Members from Meeting with Students
Holmdel, N.J. – Assemblywoman Victoria Flynn and Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger (Monmouth R’s) are introducing legislation to end the disgraceful, unpatriotic practices by some New Jersey School Districts in which members of the United States Military and Army Reserve Officer’s Corps (ROTC) are being barred by school personnel from speaking with students.
The pushback comes after it was revealed that a Monmouth County high school administrator denied a request by a dad, who is also a Marine who serves out of U.S. Naval Base Earle (Monmouth County), to come and provide an inspirational talk with students about his experience with the Military. This Major was told that military personnel are not allowed to come and speak to students because such communications could be “dangerous” and “would only wrongfully encourage enlistment” – a stance which Assemblywoman Flynn and Assemblyman Scharfenberger vehemently disagree with:
“We are proud to have Naval Base Earle right here in Monmouth County, and we actually encourage our younger constituents to learn more from our military about what they do to keep our country safe. I was shocked to hear that school districts throughout this State would treat the members of armed forces in such an inhospitable manner, especially since schools should be creating partnerships with military personnel in our area to expose students to those in the military who are extremely qualified to discuss concepts of leadership, bravery, grit, and perseverance with these students from a position of authority,” Assemblywoman Flynn stated. “This does not mean every time a student engages with a member of our armed forces, they are going to choose to enter the armed forces; however, the military creates opportunities for rewarding careers while serving the country. We call upon the Commissioner of the Department of Education to issue a notice to the schools that attempts to block members of our military from providing presentations to students will not be permitted and have schools affirm that this prior practice will discontinue immediately in those schools where military personnel have been banned.”
“The barring of military personnel from any school in Monmouth County is outrageous and an affront to the honorable act of serving one’s country in the armed services. This is reminiscent of the repulsive practice on some colleges to bar military recruiters from interacting with students on campus,” said Assemblyman Scharfenberger. “Our military should have the same access and respect as any other person or group to exercise their First Amendment Rights as well as educate students on the virtues and traditions of serving in the greatest military on Earth!”
Under the package of bills drafted by the Assemblymembers, school administrations would no longer be allowed to continue these practices nor insinuate that something is wrong with military service; if school districts do adhere to such unpatriotic practices, they would be subject to penalties by the State DOE. Further, the legislation would mandate that schools highlight the benefits of joining programs like the Army Reserve Officer’s Corps (ROTC) or enlisting in the U.S. Military including receiving unmatched leadership training as well as student loan forgiveness and financial aid assistance – highly needed information given the costs associated with higher education:
“The leadership, courage, and values associated with the members of the United States Armed Forces is nothing short of extraordinary. These men and women put their lives on the line in defense of our nation, such acts of valor should be celebrated and recognized – not shunned and dismissed by anyone, let alone a school,” commented Scharfenberger. “We will not stand by and let these atrocious and irreprehensible actions continue, it is the least we can do. Young adults should have every opportunity to learn from these heroes as well as what the future could have instore for them should they choose to serve our nation.”
“The cost of a college education is astronomical and frankly, unaffordable – the average college tuition in the United States is $35,331 and New Jersey shares the ‘honor’ of having the third most expensive in-state public school tuition rate in the nation at $28,734 per year,” Flynn remarked. “It is unconscionable for schools to preclude students from learning of the scholarships and other monetary support available when you join the ROTC. These programs place graduates on a secure career path, without the debt that they would otherwise assume by attending college.”