default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps curriculum narrowly passes Lodi Unified School District board

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, July 2, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 9:42 am, Wed Jul 6, 2011.

Advocates of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps see it as a valuable program that instills leadership and discipline skills in teenagers, while critics view it as a military recruiting tool for the youngest and most vulnerable.

In March, the Lodi Unified School District board narrowly approved curriculum for a year-long course that focuses on classroom and laboratory instruction in the history, customs, traditions and purpose of the Army JROTC. But, even the discussion brought up strong opinions from school board members on either side of the political fence.

The emotional debate was primarily between two trustees: Bonnie Cassel and George Neely, both retired military and retired teachers.

“I don’t believe it is our role as a board to start our students down a career path at such a young age,” Cassel said in March. “We could be condoning a system when they become adults that puts them in harm’s way.”

She stands behind her feelings that 13- and 14-year-olds should not be affiliated with a military-sponsored program in a public school setting, and that any decision to enlist should be left to students’ parents, family or friends. She could not be reached to elaborate for this story.

Neely believes it can create leadership and life skills.

“Like the other career-related courses offered, JROTC is not a requirement. It is an elective,” Neely said. “The choice to participate will be up to parents and their students. I sincerely believe that while JROTC is not for all students, for some it will make all the difference.”

Bringing it to Lodi Unified was the brainchild of McNair High School principal Jim Davis. He says that JROTC is a stimulus for promoting graduation from high school and provide opportunities that will benefit the student, community and nation. He has been involved with similar programs at high schools in Manteca and Hanford.

Every year, he said 15 to 20 of his current students ask for the program. He has been working to bring it to McNair since the campus opened six years ago.

“The whole idea is to give students another option,” Davis said. “There’s a misconception this is a recruiting arm for the military. The kids (from JROTC) that end up going into the military are doing so because they want to.”

The first semester would focus on the development of basic leadership skills to include principles, values and attributes, while the second semester focuses on writing skills, oral communication and conflict management. Each grade level would be a prerequisite to the next grade.

“We’re not teaching them to be warmongers,” Davis said.

The program received support from the committee of teachers and administrators that oversees district curriculum in January. In fact, Davis said he’s heard nothing but positive comments from teachers and other staff.

Although their opinions mean little officially, the student board representatives voted against the curriculum at the March meeting.

“I don’t agree with the things that were said at that meeting, but I understand people have different feelings,” Davis said. “I just hope they feel differently when we have the funding.”

It is unlikely the program will launch in the near future due to the district’s budget. Although the military picks up most of the program’s cost, Lodi Unified would be required to pay a portion of the teacher salaries.

“It’s pretty hard to lay people off and start a new program,” Davis said, adding that McNair, among the hardest hit financially, has lost 35 teaching positions in the last three years.

Providing structure, discipline

Currently, there are no JROTC programs in either the Lodi or Galt high school districts. Recruiters do visit local campuses regularly.

The closest high school JROTC programs are at Edison High School in Stockton and Manteca’s East Union High School.

The program is not recognized by colleges as elective credit as it is not taught by credentialed teachers, unlike subjects such as art and physical education. But students receive recognition through awards and ribbons they proudly don on their uniforms.

The presence of a JROTC on a campus can be political among teacher peers.

When the program was brought to Del Campo High School in the Sacramento area, the principal allowed the teachers to take a vote on whether they wanted in on campus. It narrowly passed.

Using the district’s set number of teachers to hire outside employees is what concerns Lodi trustee Ron Heberle the most. Although he voted in favor of the curriculum, he wants to have a renewed discussion about the program before it launches.

Due to the program’s military requirements, it must also be housed in a larger-than-usual classroom, which includes at least 400 square feet for uniform storage and a separate so-called briefing room.

Davis maintains it’s an asset to students seeking more structure. It could also engage those not otherwise connected to the school through sports or other extra-curricular activities, according to the principal.

“I’ve seen some great things come from the JROTC program,” he said. “I’m convinced it’s the best thing for my students and for the district as a whole. In a perfect world, I’d already have the program up and running.”

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

More about

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Jamie Scarbrough posted at 12:42 pm on Tue, Jul 5, 2011.

    Jamie Scarbrough Posts: 15

    I was in AFJROTC in high school and made some good friends who did not go into the military so who ever thinks that JROTC trains high school students to join the military is wrong. Some did join and this program gave those who did a good start into it.
    JROTC is a fun safe school program to get involved in, our program had 3 teams in it a 50 state flag drill team, a silent drill team and a weapons drill team all 3 teams won national competitions, 2 teams won competitions at the Air Force Academy. Anyway JROTC was a great time and I made friends that I still have contact with to date, I think it’s about time that Lodi Unified offered this program!!

  • John Kindseth posted at 12:53 pm on Mon, Jul 4, 2011.

    John Kindseth Posts: 228

    We have had 3 children in the military, two in the Army and one in the Air force. We currently have 1 in the Army, one in the Air Force and a grandchild in the Navy.

    I support any board member who puts their support behind JROTC/ROTC and our military and look with disgust at those who dont.

  • Tab Shiota posted at 11:02 am on Mon, Jul 4, 2011.

    tazzzz40 Posts: 1

    First of all, I want to say thank you to Staff Sergeant Rueb for his valuable service and excellent letter.

    I am Lodi born and bred but currently live in Mississippi. At 19 I joined the Army and have traveled throughout the world and the US and left the service after 15+ years.

    While in high school (1971-75) we had Navy JROTC and though I never was enrolled in the class had many friends who were. Even though SOME did choose to serve in our military, not all did...JROTC is not a recruiting factory for new troops...however everyone that did take the courses came away with many great attributes for their character...pride in oneself, a sense of honor and respect, leadership, and patriotism. Sounds like the program does lots of good and remember this is from one who was an outsider and an observer not an insider.

    From my viewpoint, those who are afraid of the program just don't have an appreciation of what exposure to military history and traditions can do (remember this country was founded through a revolutionary war).

    As for the idea of creating warmongers...the ones who fight the wars are the ones who fight the most for peace..this program will instill in students the high cost of war and the reasons not to go to war until it cannot be avoided.

    Happy Fourth of July...Happy Birthday America...May God Bless our service members wherever they are.

  • roy bitz posted at 2:10 pm on Sun, Jul 3, 2011.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    Thank you for sharing your positive views and support of this important program.
    Your excellent letter helps folks understand the value of the ROTC program and will help sustain it.

    Thank you for your service Sarg!

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:26 am on Sun, Jul 3, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Great letter, sir and very informative not only to myself and others lacking knowledge of the ROTC program, but valuable information to those who would be future ROTC enrollees, and especially those youths who are completely uninfformed or aren't sure of the expectations of being enrollded in the ROTC program. Thank you for your service to our country and God bless you Staff Sergeant Anthony Reub. Have a great Independance Day along with your fellow soldiers!

  • Robert Chapman posted at 8:55 am on Sun, Jul 3, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Staff Sgt. Rueb, a big THANK YOU for you service to America from a Lodi USAF vet. As I celebrate the 4th of July in the safety of my home, I will also give thanks to the millionsof veterans and current service people who make it possible.
    Happy 4th to you.

  • Sam Heller posted at 9:37 pm on Sat, Jul 2, 2011.

    Sam Heller Posts: 176

    Staff Sergeant Anthony Rueb, great letter and thank you for your service !!!! Happy 4th to you.

  • Anthony Rueb posted at 11:56 am on Sat, Jul 2, 2011.

    USAF_VIA_LODI Posts: 3

    I am a Lodi native, born and raised. I graduated in 2004 and enlisted in the United States Air Force one month after I graduated. I joined for a multitude of very personal complex reasons. However, I knew nothing about the military prior to joining. I signed papers as fast as the pen would release ink and never looked back. After graduating from Basic Training (boot camp) and Technical Training, I wished I would've had the leg up on my comrades like other troops who attended schools with JROTC programs. They knew the drills, heritage, histroy and poise neccessry for a successful transition from civilian to miltary life. I did not. I had to learn by the numbers and absorb a lot information very quickly with little room for error.
    My point is, JROTC gives kids the heads up on what to expect from the military. It also provides a streamlined means to gain rank quicker. Even if the student chooses not to join the world's greatest military, they will still be exposed to invaluable life lessons not addressed in other classrooms. Lessons such as, respect for elders, discipline and honoring traditions that were pivital in formation of our country. If a teacher has an unruly student that demonstrates lack of respect and discipline they are virtually powerless. If the teacher steps outside of their instructional position away from their area of expertise and tries to instill these neccessary traits into a young student, they run the risk of facing harrassment and discrimination issues. Whereas a JROTC class lays down the expectations and the soonest deviation from the student warrants termination of the students opportunity to be in that course. Thus, presenting yet another life lesson not exclusive to just military service; conform to the standards of conduct or face swift consequences.

    I am happy that this passed in Lodi, narrowly as it may have. It will be a great addition to the district (given the right instructors) and teach our students pride in one's self versus the current tone of public academics which seems to be political correctness rules all. Good luck to all future cadets and like my uncle told me before I joined "listen to the smart ones".

    Staff Sergeant Anthony Rueb
    Undisclosed location, Iraq.

  • Robert Chapman posted at 10:11 am on Sat, Jul 2, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Heaven help us should we, as a society, elect to support programs that actually instill self worth, pride and patriotism in our young people. What possible good could come of such programs? I gotta sit down and think this through.......

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 9:26 am on Sat, Jul 2, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Neely believes it can create leadership and life skills...

    I have never been in the military, but I am thankful that George understands the value this program brings to society. Great job George!!



Popular Stories


Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 73


Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists