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Motives of Granville Leadership Class Questioned

Posted August 29, 2007

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— Some parents are balking at a study-skills course being taught to high school freshmen in Granville County, saying it borders on military recruitment.

The course is required for all ninth-graders in the county, and school administrators said it is needed to teach students the study and communications skills they will need throughout high school and college.

"The curriculum was approved by the school board as the 9th grade freshman enrichment curriculum," South Granville High School Principal Pauline Brady said.

The course was piloted last year at South Granville High, and only one ninth-grader had to be held back, Brady said. The course was expanded to the county's other two high schools this fall.

But parent Steve Strazis said he wants to pull his daughter from the course because it appears too military-oriented. The class is taught by an ROTC instructor, and initial requirements called for students to drill with ROTC classes and to be given the option of wearing uniforms at school.

"I think it's disingenuous of the school to insist that this not recruiting going on," Strazis said, noting the curriculum emphasizes "leadership enrichment" for students.

"(The course outline) doesn't say what methods will be used, but it doesn't say anything about military," he said.

During the first day of class, he said, the instructor discussed college expenses and how the military could help defray the cost. But Brady said the instructor was just mentioning scholarship opportunities.

"One of them happens to be a military scholarship, so the information is shared with students so they have options," she said. "I have (other)  teachers who say, 'I went to school on an athletic scholarship.'"

Still, Strazis said the class appears to go too far.

"I still have some questions about whether or not this may be used as a recruiting tool," he said.

55 Comments

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  • sstrazis Aug 31, 2007

    Dear wjcspanteach,
    When my children are being recruited for college they are being recruited for a secure future. It is a path that I have promoted and they have chosen. When they are recruited for the military they are being recruited for a future that could result them coming home in a box. They are already aware of both choices and they are already good kids. Why would I agree to give a military instructor, who is clearly promoting the military in ways that are attractive to all children 45 minutes of face time every day for a year with my child? I would ask SGHS to stop trying to undue the parenting I have done.

    Why did cigarette companies have to stop promotions using cartoons aimed at kids? Because these promotions could lead to bad life decisions made at an early age that have long-term consequences.

    My minor child, my decision, not the school board. Do you understand my concern? This class should be voluntary.

  • TurkeyShoot Aug 31, 2007

    If the 9th grade enrichment class is going to use a rotating faculty, why did the school not say so when parents objected to the ROTC? If this is a study hall and tutoring class, why do honors students have to take it without alternative options? If this is not ROTC, why were uniforms planned? Are civilians even allowed to wear military uniforms? So many questions.

  • wjcspanteach Aug 31, 2007

    SStrazis --

    Yes a teacher who joined the military may indeed try to teach the benefits of a military career to his students. But at the same time, I, as a college graduate, try to also explain or "recruit," for lack of better wording, for a college pathway instead of a military pathway. And EVERY teacher tries to encourage or "recruit" for his/her personal alma mater. I don't hear complaints about Mr. So and So trying to encourage his students to go to Appalachain.

    And from what I've heard from other posts as well as friends colleagues at the school the teacher will be rotating -- so they are simply making sure that the students get a well-rounded education -- and learn of ALL the opportunities available to them. And THAT should be required of all students so they can know what is out there.

    Headlong -- who are your students (email: jkspanteacher@hotmail.com). I miss SG and all my students, but I am happy with my new position as well.

  • headlong Aug 31, 2007

    WTG Harland and Jeremy!!! wjcspanteach...my daughters figured out who you are and miss you. The one was hoping to have you this year.

    Now to be respectful to Mr S since my daughter and his older are Friends...in FFA/Horticulture Team together. I did not know who you were until she told me. One of my daughters did not have a choice in the Enrichment class as a Freshman...I had inquired why. Several Teachers...not just Col, 1st Sergeant, and Sergeant Major come around and help students with subjects the student needs extra help in...should be called more or less a study period...she would get extra help in areas she did not understand or do her homework. The booklet teaches them how to study properly, etc. If they join electively the JROTC that is a different program and different credits. I think mixing apples and oranges here because of who teaches the class...if a regular teacher teaches would you have the same feelings???

    2Be that is funny..2 students 2 views

  • 2beornot2be Aug 31, 2007

    Mr S- I have 2 daughters taking this class now. 1 is a friend of your daughter and views the class as you / your daughter do. My OTHER daughter views the class as AN ENRICHMENT CLASS to help with study and LEADERSHIP! 2 children, same class, different opinions. I take the role as parent to inform my child this class will be used to better her, make the most of what is being taught, and you still at the end of the day (year) have the FREEDOM to choose your path. Listen to what the former students are saying. The path of MILITARY was not forced down their throats. Do you realize South Granville has a chapter of students who on a specific day will honor a Day of Silence and pass out literature, shirts, etc 4/25/08. Do I like it, NO. Can I change it, NO. Please research that one. They're not in elementary school anymore. To me this is promoting their choices, not one that I approve of for any of my children. Tolerance and acceptance ONLY.

  • Reader Aug 31, 2007

    Does the school that has an English teacher instructing the Leadership Enrichment course incorporate military drill and uniforms?

  • sstrazis Aug 31, 2007

    I always take the tack that I could be wrong so I contacted a former military recruiter who would like to remain anonymous. I told him the details of the Leadership Enrichment class and asked him if he thought that the military would be using this civics class as a military recruitment tool.

    He asserted the right of the military to advertise and promote itself and stated that a military carreer is an honorable and rewarding profession. I do not disagree with this in the least.

    He also stated that if the prinicipal did not belive that this class being taught by a ROTC instructor partially salried by the military would be used to promote the military then she was a bit naive. I object to my children being forced to attend a class where military recruitng will be taking place. This is not the path they will be taking. If this class were accurately described in the school guide and an elective my children would not be attending. She continues to attend under threat of an F.

  • sstrazis Aug 31, 2007

    Mr. Combs, Mr. Harland: I am one of the parents concerned about the contents and methods instruction used in the Leadership Enrichment course that all freshmen are required to take. This class is descibed much like a civics class in the course decription book we received from the school. Please be clear the title of this course is not ROTC nor JROTC. I can understand why you might be confused the activities of the class include wearing a military uniform, boots and marching. I know it looks like ROTC to me and I did not sign my child up for ROTC. I tried to take my child out of the class and was told that my child would receive a failing grade if she did not attend, am I sure I wanted to deny my child this credit? My wife went to the school later in the day to try to get alternative classes for my child. The principal said: "So this is what this is all about. You want a schedule change." Do you understand my continuing concern?

  • wjcspanteach Aug 31, 2007

    Good Job Jeremy and Harland! It is a joy to see you guys stand up for what you feel is right! Great work!

    One thing everyone needs to keep in mind -- the course in question IS NOT JROTC -- it is an enrichment course that just HAPPENS to be taught by a JROTC instructor -- in my school (not SG) the course is taught by an English instructor -- SAME course -- Different type of teacher. I doubt people having issues with this class would have the issues they have if the course were being taught by someone different -- and that is just being small minded -- or as Harland put it -- rather shallow.

  • Timbo Aug 31, 2007

    Leadership skills are not in the school's remit. It could be taught as an elective, but odds are, only a few would take the class and therefore, the principal couldn't justify the class.

    Again, this is a case of "reverse PC"; someone with an agenda other than truly teaching academic subjects has an ax to grind.

    Another example of why would we should up the standards for education degrees...

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