It's not easy selling a military career in wartime, and on Thursday night the job got tougher.
The Richmond County Board of Education approved a measure allowing parents to restrict access of military recruiters to their children.
No Child Left Behind grants military recruiters the access but allows local school systems to adopt "opt out" policies, such as the one adopted by the Richmond County school board.
The short provision in the roughly 700-page federal No Child Left Behind law guarantees equal access to military recruiters and college recruiters and also gives military recruiters access to student directory information, such as a student's name, address and telephone number.
The school board's policy includes a sample letter to parents, letting them either not respond and allow the access, or choose from options on how to limit the access.
Parents can choose to prevent military recruiters from accessing directory information, their children from participating in military recruitment activities and their children from taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery - an aptitude test used by the military.
The schools board's policy outlines the procedures for giving access to military recruiters. The recruiters must confine their activities to common nonacademic areas, as with college recruiters.
Military recruiters can't single out students or groups of students, according to the policy. They also won't be allowed to speak to individual classes, except JROTC, and won't be allowed to offer incentives or special considerations that aren't in writing.
Phil Hartley, legal counsel to the Georgia School Boards Association, co-wrote a book about legal issues dealing with No Child Left Behind and said the provision has caused little controversy in Georgia, unlike other parts of the country.
"Other than an occasional parent, I haven't heard many complaints," he said, but complaints are growing nationally as support for the war in Iraq waivers.
"I just think it's become a bigger deal with some people as 2,000 people are killed in Iraq," Mr. Hartley said.
Leslie Ann Sully, a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Columbia Recruiting Battalion, said there haven't been complaints about the battalion's school recruiting efforts, and if there had been schools surely would have spoken up.
"I know other parts of the country have (had problems), but I can't speak to that," Mrs. Sully said. "We have always had good rapport with schools."
Last year, the battalion's efforts focused on colleges, but this year the recruiting will be balanced between colleges and high schools, she said.
Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.