News Jul 15, 2010 at 4:00 am

A School Program Sponsored by the Department of Defense Raises the Hackles of Local Activists


So Portland is allegedly one of the more patriotic cities yet as a veteran I have experienced more anti military hippie ahole backlash than anywhere else i've lived. The Mercury is clearly anti military as has been repeatedly demonstrated by it's articles. It would be so much better if these kids did not receive this education and instead were influenced by gang members or militant vegans or maybe unwashed dirty hippie protesters. Seriously, I wish you a heart felt FUCK YOU. I do not think this program is innocent of recruiting either, but there is at least some benefit for the kids. Nothing exemplifies the Portland attitude better than to want all of the benefits that freedom brings, freedom bought about by the blood of servicemen yet be rabidly anti military. It is bullshit like that which at times almost make me regret I served 8 years as a Marine.
Woodmere Elementary is not in the Lents neighborhood. It is in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood. Perhaps it would be helpful for the Mercury to print out the neighborhood boundry maps at… and hang them up where your reporters can see them. Or you could continue refusing to do even basic research before writing articles.
Woodmere Elementary is in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, not the Lents neighborhood. Perhaps your reporters could become familiar with the neighborhood boundary maps at… ? You seem to have trouble with them fairly often.
@Leafer: Thanks! Fixed.
I could give a shit about this program. If it helps kids learn science, fine. If maybe that inclines them toward a career in the military, that's fine, too. I think these people have good intentions, and I don't think there's anything nefarious going on at all. Here's why I'm really here:

@ Showstopper: Go fuck yourself, and then go fuck the Marines. I'm really, really tired of this "you wouldn't have your freedom if not for the military" bullshit. There's plenty of free countries that don't aggressively use their bloated militaries to ensure their freedoms.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally anti-military. I think we should have a force sufficient to defend our territory, but not much bigger. However, there's a humongous gap between the size our military should be, and the size it is, and there's an even bigger gap between how our military should be used, and how it's actually been used in our history as a nation. It's no great stretch to call the buildup and misuse of our military our nation's second or third greatest shame, and that's precisely why it's both OK to criticize it, and absolutely necessary that we as citizens do so.

Finally, I don't think you'll never regret that 8 years you chose to spend in the Marines, because it lets you (think you can) one-up other people and play the goddamned martyr for the rest of your life. Now here's my turn to play the martyr: I'd give up my freedom (and a whole lot more) if it brought back to life the MILLIONS of charred, mutilated and innocent corpses produced by dumbfuck US policy and it's tool, the US military.
What's your point? Are you trying to stay quasi-objective and report both sides, with a couple of insinuations of nefarious intent on the part of the military that you can't prove (or directly allude to)?

What's bad about placing children within feet of heavy weaponry (besides the way it sounds)? I imagine any necessary precautions have been taken to be safe. If you're suggesting the base tour glorifies violence or the military, I'd check out the video games, cartoons, or run of the mill media stories easily accessed by children that include ample amounts of violence and weapons. At least the tour comes with a responsible/serious tint.

The last part of the article gets awkward. How do you know they altered the pamphlets for the Oregonian? Define militaristic and describe what were the militaristic elements of this pamphlet? Is it the mere presence of military personnel among other civilian professionals "militaristic"?

I honestly don't attribute the awkwardness of the Sergeant or the black out of military personnel to insidiousness intentions of the military or a admission of guilt. I'd call it the clumsy backtracking of PR novices that know the appearance of impropriety will be held against them.

How significant is the resistance to StarBase in Oregon (oh, I'm sorry, pacifist resistance cause it sounds so smart)? Are there any merits to their claims? Do children have to attend StarBase programs? If any of your rumors were true, I'm sure a lexus nexus search would yield better results than calling a couple newspapers. How about calling schools that participate in StarBase? The fact that the representatives of local newspapers didn't know about StarBase isn't a surprise. I'm sure they're unfamiliar with most programs that work with K-12 students or simply don't share your shock at StarBase's existence

Beyond individual programs (I'm guessing this isn't the only one), the military has probably had a significant role in the development of universal education in many western countries. During WWII, they developed programs to rapidly improve reading, writing, and math skills for soldiers from poor educational backgrounds. They're responsible for defense, it's kind of a big deal, and yes, they might want to develop resources to explicitly use to that end.

An assumption floats in the background of this article that military is attempting to lull people into a positive outlook towards the military when people shouldn't. If you don't like the military and think people should have nothing to do with it, write a separate article. If you are suggesting the military's interests in the matter are vague and that by itself is troubling, say so.

I don’t know if this article is anti-military, nor would I be offended if it was. To emphasize what I said at the beginning, what is the point?
It is as simple as this: If Portland Public Schools has decided to let the Military have access to our 10 year old children for future recruitment targets then they need to change their policy on elementary school recruitment. As it stands now the policy states clearly that elementary school recruitment is prohibited. STARBASE is about planting the "military seed" and to do such at that young of an age it is reprehensible, scary, sad, and possibly disastrous. Leave the kids alone!!!
We should absolutely fell free to criticize the military or U.S. policy. Ideally, these high-end classes would be being taught by well-compensated, well-qualified teachers earning a living wage commensurate with their experience and education. Given the circumstances, however, I would rather have PPS students getting a good science/global studies lesson from a dispassionate public sector professional than a private sector contractor who is hustling to keep their job at the behest of shareholders concerned only with their profit margins. Besides, for all the negative stereotypes the military endures in this town, we can't all be creative executives or musician-baristas. I love you guys and all, but lets be fair here; if we're going to make a deal with the devil, wouldn't we rather be beholden to the common devil we all know?
I would be a wee bit compassionate on throwing it ALL at the military,Colin.A hell of a lot of our military chose to dodge jail and enlist.A hell of a lot of our military dont even want to serve.They want the housing,school bucks and usually don't want to see any fucked up shit nor kill anyone.I definately agree with our bloated military and over reaching powers.We wont be attacked by Japan,China,Russia nor even Iran.A huge military didn't stop 911 and never will.I believe the next threat will be on these here computers.Banking,power grid etc.I do believe we could radically reduce our bases and the bucks we should be spending on education.Show stopper....not all hippies spit on Nam vets.They just questioned why their friends and family had to be drafted into a fucked up war/game and gave their lives or lost their minds.War huh good god you all!!What is it good for!!!!!Imagine.
I think it's wonderful that the military is giving back to the community in this way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with respecting our military. I think it is good for kids to have exposure in this small way to the military. While it may look like a machine to those who have never served, those of us who have know that it is made up of perfectly normal human beings. We were not brainwashed baby killers. The military is here to protect us. Yes, maybe sometime politicians use it improperly, but that should not cause us to vilify military personnel. Many of us enlisted not because we wanted to go out and blow shit up, but because we felt that it was a way to SERVE our country while in return getting benefits such as college money. I am female, come from a middle class family and got good grades, but I still enlisted. I think as a country, we have lost respect for almost everything, especially public servants like the police and military. I'm not saying they are perfect, but they are there for YOU. Parents should be glad of this opportunity, not only because their kids get a chance to experience new things and LEARN, but also because they can use this experience to have an actual (gasp!) conversation with their kids about the military.
@ Showstopper,
as a decorated veteran, I call bullshit on your diatribe. While I will free acknowledge that this is one of the smarter things the DD has conceived, and might along the way do a bit of good, it is still propaganda. The way to fix the school system is to fix the school system, not to partner with the DD.

The DD WANTS people to think that dropping bombs on people is an exercise in math, and if that doesn't chill you down to your toes, I question your sanity and humanity.

@ Remi: Good point. Military haters tend to lose sight that the military is a heterogenous conglomeration of ordinary, basically good people, just like any other large organization. I agree that if this is indoctrination, it's pretty benign.

@ Rabblevox: Well said.
Starbase is recruitment budget money. Do you think that comes without an agenda? Showstopper and others who immediately curse and label those who are opposed to recruiting elementary school children really make our case for us. We don't want our children to turn out like that. We just don't. Those who would allow the military to take the little kids out of school to get gee-whizzed by killing machines are products of the same culture, usually, and want even more. I hope that more and more of us disagree with that. Military contact with grade school children is a sign of a rapidly deteriorating, militarized society, one that becomes more coarsened as it finds itself waging war after war, honoring the warriors and calling the nonviolent ones naive. I think the brutalization of our society is the sad naivite that presages economic depression and social services getting thinner and thinner. As for the military being the reason we are all free, tell that to all the peoples who were victorious with nonviolence, including women, who won their vote despite military members beating them in the streets of Washington, not because of the military. And ask John Lewis, Diane Nash and the millions of black southern Americans who won their rights using nonviolence. Yes, you can say that white males owe their freedom to a violent American Revolution, but that was before Gandhi showed a different way. He freed India from the same colonial master--Britain--but with fewer than 3,000 deaths, compared to the US 35,000 or more. Can we please start to REALLY educate our kids? They shouldn't drive Model Ts and they can do better than violence.
Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Commenty Colin. Thank you, Rabblevox. I wish I could have said what you all did with the same eloquence.
@mandingo - No one is in our military to avoid jail. They haven't done that anywhere in decades. No one is still serving who was ever given that choice.
@ Reymont: I've watched judges, as recently as 2006, suspend sentences or approve probation because the defendant promised to enlist.
Hey, look on the bright side: we're not as bad as the military in Starship Troopers, yet.
The department of defense funds several of the cancer research studies where I work at. And I know for a fact there is no way they would benefit from it (I work in the contracts and protocol department). Giving money away out of the goodness of their heart? Maybe not. Giving money to programs that help the public to increase PR or because, as in our case, a large amount of surplus left over from the Clinton era was set aside solely for cancer research, sure. Does it matter? Right now it's better than nothing and the portland school system has nothing. The people who are protesting should get off of their asses and raise money to build other programs to compete. From the ages of 7 to 11 I was sent to educational afterschool programs for disadvantaged youth at a church that colored everything with the teachings of the bible. I didn't grow up to be a christian. just saying.
No problem Colin , we can do that! Just sign on the dotted line and we will bring them all back! Thanks for your sacrifice buddy! (Ps no you would'nt as you are likely as spineless and selfentitiled as most of your Portland buddies) I neither am asking for martyrdom nor "one upping" anyone, I merely ask that you respect PAST sacrifices. I do not agree with the Iraq or Afganistan campaigns either idiot, nice assumption
@Rabblevox_at what point did I defend current military doctrine imbecile? I disagree with the campaigns in Iraq and Afganistan and have lost friends in both. Some of you are pretty fucking thick, (Tom) I am talking about past sacrifices and the idea of the preservation of our freedom NOT current US policy. I have'nt agreed with much Our country has done for the last 15 years. Pray tell mr Hastings why Ghandi was successful? (I know btw, I was a history major)-The state of British economic and colonial policy was as relevant to his success as non violence was. While Mahatma Ghandi was indeed a great man, I wonder how that tactic would worked against the Nazis-but hey, WWII is'nt relevant anymore right? It's just a bunch of old dudes on veterans day, right? Idiots. As for you Rabblevox, nice job on the internet violence. That gives some insight to your maturity level if nothing else. I don't know where or when you served and frankly don't much care. I don't have a purple heart, I do have (well had, I threw it away in 1996) a bronze star. Oh and I did'nt keep my uniform either. Nice try though tough guy. Finally, If I had a child, I probably would'nt be thrilled if they joined the military, but at some point someone has to. Good thing it's mostly poor people of color, eh ? As long as it's not one of our fine arts community hipster kids(like those pansies could get in).
Assuming for the moment that the military's intentions are totally honorable, the other explanation for this program is that they need people that are better at/more interested in science than what are coming out of public schools today. This is kind of Tits Mcgee's point, and certainly something my parents saw happening after Sputnik as well, (my mother was in one of the first high school calculus classes in the country.) Maybe our public schools so bad that the military needs to spend a lot of money on educating children...

What does that say about our public schools? Does anyone else (besides the military) notice/care that we are falling behind other countries in this regard? I work for a company that sells science education equipment, and even with the recession business is up. Not in Oregon, nor in most of the US, but worldwide we are doing great. To give an example: per student, Libya has more technology in their science classrooms than the US does.

If only the story here was that the military was trying to recruit 10 year olds, that would be better news. But I fear the real story is that we've gutted our schools so badly that the military, (who can't get give green cards to foreign nationals when they need someone to work on their equipment,) realized THEY had to do something...
I would just like to say that I am an educator of a STARBASE, and although there is a military presence at STARBASE occasionally, we do not force the idea upon them. In fact, we spend a great deal of time helping to focus the students on what their goals for their future are. There are very few students that ever say their goal is to be in the military. Most of the students who do say that are actually the children of retired or active duty soldiers. I have a brother that has been changed by the time he spent in Iraq in 2003, and I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder because of it, but I am not anti-military. I know that what we are doing is making a difference in these children's lives and they have a much bigger appreciation of S.T.E.M. areas! I have met college age students who still giggle with excitement when they talk about the experiences they had in STARBASE as a fifth grader! It is a wonderful program that is, at the least, very beneficial to showing students that "THEY CAN ACHIEVE ANYTHING THEY PUT THEIR MINDS TOO", whether it be within the military or outside as a regular ole' cititzen. I think what I see in a lot of these posts is a lot of ignorance. At our program we never ever ever try to shut out the public. We are constantly trying to get the public more involved anyway we can. We welcome anyone who wants to volunteer time to come in and enjoy the experiments with us. Anyone that has actually SEEN the program in action, would agree that it is not our goal to be churning out a bunch of militant soldiers for our government. I can almost bet that a lot of the same people bitching about this are the same parents that have bought their children games such as HALO or Call of Duty. IGNORANCE! Have you ever sat down and played these games? These games teach them more about killing and weapons and wars than any STARBASE teacher could ever try to in 25 hours!!! Educate yourselves, get proof, stop being hypicritical...and then you can bitch!!!

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