Recruiters Go To School

Pressured to meet quotas, some U.S. military recruiters have bent or broken the rules for enticing young people into the service. And on the eve of a day of atonement of sorts, CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta reports that a little-known provision in the federal No Child Left Behind law gives these recruiters a secret weapon when aiming to recruit high schoolers, and catch the attention of students as young as 14.

CBS News has reported that from asking teens to lie to their parents to guiding them through duping the drug-test system and forging documents, recruiters will go to many lengths to get young people to enlist. One Houston-area recruiter was threatening jail time if a applicant didn't keep his appointment.

So in order to take a day to re-train Army recruiters in the ethics of enlisting, the entire Army recruitment system will stand down — or cease recruitment — Friday.

Even as some recruiters re-learn what to say and what not to say, a provision packed into a federal education law is working to the recruiters' favor.

Acosta reports that National Guard recruiter Jeremy Hill is one of those who set their sights at the young. He's looking for a few good high schoolers.

"How old are you, man?" Hill asks one passing-by teen.

"Sixteen in April," the student replies. They shake hands.

"Usually if you come to a high school and get three or four leads, that's a pretty good visit," Hill told Acosta.

But such recruiters do have numbers to meet. So to make signing up more appealing for young people in the midst of lagging recruitment, the Army, will offer a reduced tour of duty lasting just 15 months rather than the usual two-plus years.

And to set up tables inside public high schools, a recruiter doesn't even need a permission slip. What frightens some parents is that the law also gives them access to each student's personal data, including address and phone number.

Any school that doesn't comply risks losing federal funding.

"I think it's a little problematic to be asking teenagers to make a life-altering or life-ending decision when they are not good at making risk choices," school-recruiting opponent Marla Schoolmeester said.

Frustrated with recruiters, Schoolmeester found out that the No Child Left Behind law does allow her to put her son, Kelly, on a sort of Do Not Call List.

  • Christine Lagorio

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