published Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

David Cook: Testing for war

The point of education is not to provide bodies for war.

The work of our schools and teachers is to enlighten, uplift and engage our kids. To humanize.

Not militarize. Not hand the names of our kids over to the Pentagon.

Bill Ketron, are you listening?

Ketron, a Republican from Murfreesboro, wants to require -- like a draft -- all students in Tennessee public schools to take a military recruiting test in 10th grade.

It's called the ASVAB: the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. Every person who joins the U.S. military takes it.

Ketron's bill (SB1329, and its House counterpart HB1283) would make the test part of every public school calendar in the state. (Private schools are exempt.)

Why not force every student to fill out an ACLU application form? Or take the handgun ownership test? (Whoops, don't want to give any ideas to the NRA and its loyal Nashville lawmakers.)

The process of joining the military shouldn't become a required part of the school year. (The Hamilton County Department of Education does not currently administer the ASVAB, officials say.)

Schools shouldn't grease the pathways for teenagers into the never-ending wars our nation seems to fight.

"An absurd double standard exists in American schools: Parental consent is required for a trip to the museum, but not for military recruitment," writes Dr. Teresa Whitehurst on

Hmmm. Maybe it's time for a compromise. Ketron, I'll support your idea if you agree to mine:

Require all students to take a semester-long course in Peace Studies.

We mandate years of instruction in science, math, English, history. But not one minute is devoted to understanding the dynamics of how to reduce violence and make peace.

Isn't violence, like, the biggest problem out there? Shouldn't we take it seriously enough to study it? Don't we have enough faith in peace-making to give it classroom time?

"If the ASVAB is required, let's have a similar test for the Peace Corps," Colman McCarthy said Tuesday. "The country will be far better off if we have fewer warriors and more peacemakers, more Dorothy Days and Jeannette Rankins and fewer Norman Schwarzkopfs and Tommy Franks."

For decades, McCarthy, a former Washington Post columnist and current director of the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, has taught courses in Peace Studies. High school. Universities. Thousands of kids.

"If we don't teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence," he loves to say.

It's not Puff the Magic Dragon. Not Woodstocky. It is a serious academic discipline that is part of schools and universities across the globe.

I'd wager that so many indexes of violence would go down (suicides, eating disorders, gang membership, depression) if we began to teach peace in a serious way in our schools.

The ethics of Gandhi. His history. The philosophy of King. The stories of abolitionists and suffragists. The fact that far more 20th century revolutions happened because of nonviolence than violence.

How to forgive your enemies.

(Any school in Hamilton County want to give it a try?)

When 21st-century students encounter the legacy of American nonviolence, something awakes within them. This world they're inheriting is so puzzling, like a cultural compass that can't find north. Peace-making provides an alternative to the social distortion of today.

Isn't that what education is supposed to be about?

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Easy123 said...


Your psychosis has been duly noted.

February 20, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
Nepenthe said...

JonRoss, What acts of violence have "Progressives" perpetrated against you? This article is about violence not your perceived delusional ideological 'war.'

February 20, 2013 at 2:47 p.m.
Easy123 said...


Again, your psychosis and delusion has been duly noted.

Absolutely nothing you say is even close to congruent with reality. You live in the most fantastical of fantasy worlds. Your ignorance, hatred, lies, deceit, and irrationality is palpable.

February 20, 2013 at 3:46 p.m.
Easy123 said...


February 20, 2013 at 4:10 p.m.
una61 said...

David , a thoughtful article. Do you advocate eliminating high school JROTC?

February 20, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.
jjmez said...

ROTC is not mandatory. Therefore, that's a poor comparison. ROTC is no different than if someone voluntarily joined the 1. marching band 2. basketball team 3. cheerleader squad 4. football team. 5. Spanish, Latin, Russian, Mandarin or some other foreign language club 6. Math Club 7. Glee Club 8. 4-H

February 21, 2013 at 6:07 p.m.
nucanuck said...

JR, paranoia can be progressive and debilitating. Mental health issues should be looked after sooner rather than later.

February 22, 2013 at 1:51 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Whatever you say, Tarzan.

Ignorance like yours should be a crime, JonRosshole. You are a shame to the human race.

February 22, 2013 at 10:08 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Actually, we should bring back the draft. That would have ended the "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan much more quickly. It is the best was to radicalize the public, go for it.

I also wonder if JonRoss is a member of the Armed Services or just talks a big talk?

February 23, 2013 at 6:55 a.m.
Easy123 said...

You're so full of sh!t your eyes are brown, JonRoss. You disgrace yourself and your sons' service with your pretentious act, feigning indignation 24/7, and egregious ignorance. Your son has no more integrity or honesty than anyone here or Barack Obama. You're an ignorant WingNut hack. Your baseless opinion means nothing here.

February 23, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.
AndrewLohr said...

Do liberals and RINOs make peace by groping our pockets?

February 26, 2013 at 4:39 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.