Teach Your Children Well

Leading Venezuelan educators and critics of President Hugo Chavez are calling his creation of 500 schools constructed and supervised by the military a political program for "ideological indoctrination and militarization." Aimed at educating some of Venezuela's poorest children, proposals include compulsory military training that proponents claim will aid in "vocational orientation." In the United States, similar claims and accusations have been made concerning the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program, in which retired military personnel teach elective courses in public high schools or special academies.

Supporters claim that JROTC programs benefit poor and minority students by boosting grade point averages and SAT scores, and by lowering absentee and drop-out rates. Fifty-four percent of JROTC cadets are racial minorities, and 65 percent of the programs are in low-income communities.

Harold Jordan of the American Friends Service Committee says it's a matter of flawed priorities: "The government would rather put its resources into a program which, in effect, tracks young people into the military than it would to put its money into programs that improve the overall educational quality."

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