High School Shooting Ranges Become Targets of Criticism

    The implementation of a Junior Reserve Officer’s Training
    Corp program at Mission Bay High School and Lincoln High School in San Diego
    last fall, which gives students the opportunity to train with high-powered
    pellet guns at the campus’ new shooting ranges, has sparked controversy from
    local activist groups opposed to the presence of firearms at high schools.

    The Education Not Arms Coalition and the project on Youth
    and Non-Military Opportunities have partnered to protest against what they
    claim to be a violation of the schools’ “zero tolerance” policies regarding
    firearms on campus.

    Earlier this year, the two groups collected over 1,000
    signatures on a petition demanding the removal of ROTC firing ranges from local
    high schools, which they presented to the San Diego School Board.

    Additionally, the two groups have claimed that the presence
    of these ROTC programs leads students to be misleadingly tracked into military
    programs without being given clear alternatives.

    Students at Mission
    Bay
    and Lincoln
    high schools, many of whom have protested and testified before the San Diego
    School Board, have found themselves automatically enrolled in ROTC training
    programs at the beginning of fall semester. California Education Code 51750
    deems participation in such programs voluntary.

    Thurgood Marshall junior Hossein Ayazi has been working with
    Project Yano since fall quarter.

    “I stumbled upon this organization while taking an ethnic
    studies class,” Ayazi said. “We had a community service requirement, so I
    decided to volunteer.”

    Ayazi said that Project Yano has been concerned primarily
    with the legal aspects surrounding the controversy.

    “While we volunteered at Mission
    Valley
    and Lincoln,
    we focused on the inconsistencies in school policy,” Ayazi said. “Schools
    nationwide are required to maintain a zero tolerance policy toward firearms,
    and the presence of firing ranges on school grounds is a direct contradiction
    to that.”

    Ayazi added that these ROTC programs serve to create
    inconsistencies in educational opportunities in regards to race and ethnicity.

    “In particular, we are concerned that many low-income
    students and students of color are being diverted away from higher education
    and into the military, where they are found in disproportionate numbers,” he
    said.

    Ayazi said this problem is particularly visible at schools
    like Mission Bay
    and Lincoln, where Latinos and
    African Americans make up most of the ethnic demographic.

    “None of the coursework and time spent in military training
    programs satisfies university admission requirements,” Ayazi said. “Yet schools
    like Lincoln and Mission
    Bay
    are cutting funding and
    resources from the AP/IB programs and diverting them to ROTC programs. We need
    programs that help these kids get into college, not ones that drive them away
    from it.”

    Since its formation in 1984, Project Yano has advocated
    alternatives to military careers, listing various links to scholarships and
    financial aid as well as counter-recruitment information and brochures on its
    Web site.

    “Many of our members are armed forces veterans who believe
    that high school students are getting a distorted picture of the military and
    war from recruiting ads and marketing,” Ayazi said.

    Representatives from the Mission
    Bay
    and Lincoln ROTC Programs did
    not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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