"Everything about the enlistment contract has been worked out between them and the Army guidance counselor," says Douglas Smith, spokesman for the US Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky. "We work very hard to make sure that the young men or women know exactly what they are enlisting for."
As for access to student contact information, Mr. Smith says, "we realize that not everyone is going to be interested, but we want to at least introduce ourselves to them and start a conversation.... For 32 years we've relied on an all-volunteer force ... [and] a key element in maintaining it is the outreach efforts that we make to high school and college students."
For many schools, this issue is unlikely to surface as a significant controversy. Even before the No Child Left Behind requirement kicked in, 88 percent of high schools were already allowing military recruiters access to student contact information, says Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Department of Defense spokeswoman.
But at schools that have become flash points, it's one more challenge to leaders already feeling pressured by tight budgets and the academic demands spelled out in NCLB.
In Seattle last spring, for instance, the Garfield High Parent Teacher Student Association adopted a resolution stating that public schools are not a place for military recruiters. No public schools have actually prohibited military recruiters, because they would risk losing federal aid, but the symbolic gesture gained national attention.
The Seattle Public Schools had already been considering clarifying its policies for all visiting recruiters, including the military, and it was frustrating to have antiwar activists try to impose their views on what should be a neutral policy, says district spokesman Peter Daniels.