I’ve been following the battle over the JROTC program in the San Francisco public schools for the last year and a half. When last we visited the fight in December, the program had been given a temporary reprieve–much to the consternation of the anti-war zealots who oppose the hundreds and hundreds of students (many of them minorities) who participate as cadets and have benefited immeasurably from JROTC.
Now, there’s a new petition drive to show support for saving the program. Families of JROTC students gathered signatures this weekend to put a measure on the ballot in November:
The proposed ballot measure would be advisory only, meaning it couldn’t save the district’s JROTC program, but it would show school board members how the majority of San Franciscans feel about the program, said Mike Bernick, the campaign’s co-chair.
Bernick, an attorney and former director of California’s labor department, said the effort “reflects really the outpouring of support we’ve found among San Franciscans across the political spectrum.”
The group will kick off the petition drive at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Taraval Police Station community room. To qualify for the ballot, the group must submit about 7,200 signatures by July 7, Bernick said. The group has collected about 1,000 signatures already.
Four school board seats are up for election in November, including the seats of Eric Mar and Mark Sanchez, who oppose the JROTC program and are running for the county Board of Supervisors.
Jill Wynns and Norman Yee, who voted against eliminating the program two years ago, are expected to run for re-election.
About 1,200 students are enrolled in the JROTC program this year, down from about 1,600 in 2006, said Robert Powell, a JROTC instructor at Lincoln High School.
“It’s not that kids are losing interest,” Powell said. “It’s because they don’t know whether it’s going to be around or not.”
Reader Matt e-mailed me a few photos of students taking their case to the streets at Lakeshore Shopping Center in the Bay Area. Good for them. If you’re in SF, make sure you sign!