The head of the City Council’s Education Committee wants to shoot down the school system’s Junior ROTC programs — charging they’re training high-school students for a “war machine.”
Councilman Daniel Dromm, a Queens Democrat, said he has a “philosophical problem” with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs conducted in 14 schools.
“I always wondered why these programs are mainly in schools with students of color,” he said last week during a City Hall hearing. “I have concerns about the way they go about recruitment. It contributes to a war machine, and I have some problems with that.”
Schools officials were taken aback.
“I would appreciate the opportunity to take you out to see one or two of these schools,” Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said.
But Dromm said he had already visited the programs and opposed their very existence.
“I really have a problem with . . . them being there. It sends a message to kids about armed forces and their policies, what happens when they move forward with college,” he said.
Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights, also called on the city to end its support of the federally subsidized program. The city pays the instructors who teach the courses,
Supporters of the program were quick to return fire.
“That’s probably the most ridiculous comment I’ve heard in a couple of years,” said Richard Gogarty, a former Army sergeant who now teaches at Francis Lewis HS in Queens.
Students in Gogarty’s JROTC program are offered classes in subjects including leadership and public speaking. No military subjects, like tactical maneuvers, are taught.
Gogarty estimates 99 percent of his students go on to college and only 3 percent join the armed forces afterward. “We want them to be successful in life,” he said. “I do take exception to anybody who pretends to know about the curriculum.”
A spokeswoman for the DOE said she could not immediately find out the percentage of minority students enrolled in JROTC.
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