The New York Civil Liberties Union today praised the NYC Department of Education decision to give students a voice before schools can release their contact information to military recruiters, but cautioned that the measures do not go far enough to protect student privacy. The NYCLU has requested copies of the new procedures and will closely monitor their implementation.
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU said, "the change was necessary to comply with federal law that gives both students and their parents the right to withhold their information unless they give affirmative consent to disclosure. This is a step in the right direction, but it stops short of what is necessary to effectively protect the privacy of student information. To protect students and their families from unwanted solicitations from the military and from being involuntarily added to the military data-base, the schools should not release student contact information without affirmative consent."
Lieberman reiterated the concerns that prompted the NYCLU to raise objections to the high school recruiting procedures last month in letters to the NYC Department of Education and the State Education Department,. "In our politically charged post -911 era, with enormous pressure to participate in patriotic displays, unwanted solicitations from possibly every branch of the military may impose inappropriate pressure to respond and holds great potential for intimidation and coercion, particularly in immigrant communities. In addition, the Navy's vitriolic response to Bushwick High School student protests against recruiting policies gives added cause for concern."
Lieberman continued to question the use of education funds to pay the expenses of making student information available for military recruiting. "In an environment of failing schools and severe cutbacks in education funding," she said, "education money should pay for education. It should not be diverted to military recruiting."