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FL Schools Allows “Anti-Recruiting” By VFP

From baynews9.com:

Cindy Sheehan and a friend in front of the VFP bus which brought her to Crawford last August.

Hearing both sides

Sunday, July 16, 2006

For the past year, the former president of Tampa Bay Veterans for Peace, Dwight Lawton, has been trying to spread a message to Pinellas County high school students.

"For students, it is that they have equal access to information so that they can make decision based on understanding the pros and cons of going in the service," Lawton said.

Lawton, 75, was drafted into the Navy and fought in the Korean War. He says although he had no choice in serving in the military, kids today do. He’s pushing for the Pinellas County school board to give his group the same opportunities as military recruiters to get on high school campuses to talk to students about their futures.

"We’re really concerned about those students who have not done well in school," Lawton said. "[Those who] have no choices, who do not have finances or grade point average to get in college. They seem to be the ones that are most susceptible."

But school board member Jane Gallucci says schools are not a place for politics and they can’t let in every organization trying to spread a message on campus.

"The open-access laws say that you have to have a job, a career,
Pinellas County school board member Jane Gallucci says groups that speak to students must bring a positive message.
something that you are talking to our students about to be able to access the students," Gallucci said.

But the school board has agreed to consider allowing the Veterans for Peace group on campus.

To come on campus, however, Veterans for Peace will have to change their message. Instead of focusing on anti-war issues, they’ll have to offer positive alternatives to military careers.

Gallucci says the school board wants to create a fair and open environment for students and she thinks having Veterans for Peace on campus offering information about career choices may help.

"Children cannot be expected to make a decision about going into the military with only one side of the argument," Gallucci said.

From Florida’s St. Petersburg Times:

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VFP Florida Chapter Head, Dwight Lawton.

Schools may allow Veterans for Peace

The antiwar group wants to be allowed to counter military recruiters on campuses with information about alternate careers.

By DONNA WINCHESTER, Times Staff Writer
July 14, 2006

After an 18-month ban, antiwar protesters may soon be allowed on Pinellas County high school campuses.

This time with a focused message: alternatives to military careers.

The Pinellas School Board on Thursday gave tentative support to allowing a local 50-member Veterans for Peace chapter on campus, agreeing it should have equal access to students who hear presentations from military recruiters.

Board members asked superintendent Clayton Wilcox to draft a policy that would provide access for the veterans after reviewing a letter from the group saying it intends to present "positive, factual information about vital career options that are wholesome and oriented toward serving society, both at home and abroad"

"If the military recruiters are setting up a table, I don’t know why the Veterans for Peace can’t set up a table as well," board member Janet Clark said.

Military representatives have been visiting high school campuses to encourage students to consider military careers for years. Since 2002, schools have been required to provide students’ names, telephone numbers and addresses to military recruiters who ask for them under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

If a district fails to provide "directory" information to military recruiters, it can lose federal money. Some Veterans for Peace members think that’s why the Pinellas and Hillsborough school districts have been reluctant to allow the group on campuses.

But School Board attorney Jim Robinson said his concern from the outset has been that the veterans did not appear to be presenting career alternatives, but rather trying to refute military recruiters’ statements.

"That was a key point for me," Robinson said. "The issue is careers."

Veterans for Peace president Dwight Lawton, 72, said the group would like to work with school guidance counselors to present information about careers with organizations such as the Peace Corps.

He agreed that any printed material that is handed out to students would be subject to district approval.

As recently as April, school officials voiced concern that the group’s true purpose was to counter the military recruiters.

St. Louis-based Veterans for Peace is a national organization of about 5,000 veterans of all eras, from World War II to Iraq. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the consequences of war and to encourage peaceful alternatives.

Board members will review a draft version of a policy that will allow the group to present its message at its Aug. 22 workshop.

Neither article mentions that Mr. Lawton is an ex-con who has been arrested several times for his efforts to disrupt the US military.

A casual Google of him reveals that Lawton is heavily involved in many other America-hating activities. Besides being the head of the Florida Veterans For Peace he is a Green Party candidate, an ACLU member and a member of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

Lawton is also an vocal advocate for the convicted terrorist enabler, "Professor" Sami Al-Arian:

ACLU member Dwight Lawton has been trying to get his local Pinellas County ACLU chapter, headed by Paul Pohlman and Ray Arsenault to come forward in support of Al-Arian for over two months. Lawton is an anti-war activist who has spent time in prison for civil disobedience protests against the U.S. mercenary training camp in Georgia, called the School of the Americas (aka School of Assassins). Failing to win support from his local chapter, he has written to Howard Simon, the Florida ACLU Executive Director and to the ACLU National Office, with no response. He is presently attempting to contact the Center for Constitutional Rights in Washington, D.C. Dr. Al-Arian’s son, Abdullah, has also sent requests to the ACLU and Amnesty International with no response.

You would think that any or all of this would be enough to disqualify Mr. Lawton from having access to the impressionable minds of school children.

But let’s not forget the VFP’s notorious record of viciously anti-American agit-prop activities. And then there is the little matter of the VFP’s Katrina fraud.

If these people should have access to preach to our school children, why doesn’t Al Qaeda? (Not that there is any real difference when it comes to their adamant hatred for this country.)

If anyone is interested in sharing their views on this matter with the Pinellas School board, here is contact information from the school board’s own website:


School Board Members

Supt. Clayton Wilcox, Jane Gallucci, Janet Clark, Linda Lerner, Mary Russell,
Mary Brown, Carol Cook, Nancy Bostock

The public is encouraged to contact the School Board members on any issue.
Office:  (727) 588-6300
E-mail:  Board@pcsb.org
Mail: P.O. Box 2942, Largo, FL 33779-2942.

I’m sure the school board would appreciate "hearing both sides."

(Thanks to JohnX for the heads up on all of this.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, July 18th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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