Debra J. Saunders

SFUSD Board President Mark Sanchez -- who is intent on eliminating JROTC -- argues that the district will develop a similar program, but without the yucky military flavor. Sanchez, however, is not willing to wait to see if a non-military replacement program actually works for students, as a special task force recommended. He wants to ignore the task force and begin dismantling JROTC now. Tonight's vote would call for terminating two of seven high school JROTC programs and prohibiting all ninth-graders from enrolling.

JROTC without the military? Bad idea. As Bernick noted, "It cannot be untethered from its military structure, because it's precisely that emphasis on the military values of teamwork, achievement, individual responsibility and drive that make the program so effective, especially for young people who may not have other structure or direction in their life."

Also, JROTC works because of the veterans who lead it. Kids like straight talk and a challenge.

The school board has changed since the 2006 anti-JROTC vote. Tonight, San Franciscans will learn if this new board cares about students -- or enforcing political correctness.

How it must rankle Sanchez that San Francisco students have the cheek to reject his ideology in favor of a program that pushes personal responsibility, punctuality, neatness, discipline, chain of command and even -- Goddess forbid -- love of country.

The San Francisco school board has been tolerant of many things -- seniors who can't pass the state exit exam and students who mouth off at their teachers. But students who sign up to wear uniforms, attend drills, learn about the responsibilities of citizenship and strive to incorporate the skills they need to get ahead -- that's a choice Sanchez doesn't believe San Francisco students should be allowed to make.

Debra J. Saunders

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