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News ::
J. David Galland's.... The Recruiter, The Students and The Wrong Message (english)
27 Dec 2002
Modified: 03:16:07 AM
J. David Galland exposes the liberal vilification directed at the Commander of the Naval Recruiting District of New York because the career Naval Officer is honest!
The Recruiter, The Students and The Wrong Message

By J. David Galland

If New York Sen. Charles Schumer gets his way, Navy Cmdr. Edward W. Gehrke, the chief of the Navy Recruiting District in New York City, will be reprimanded and censured by his service.

Gehrke is a career naval officer and 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. His biographic sketch belies any insinuation of a less than a brilliant naval career. He is a dedicated American committed to the defense of his country.

But why does the Democratic senator want to send Gehrke to the proverbial "Davy Jones' Locker"?

The answer is painfully simple. Gehrke lives and tells the truth, in spoken and written words and deeds. This is why Schumer wants to put the kybosh on Gehrke's career.

This confrontation started some weeks ago when the students of Bushwick High School in Brooklyn N.Y., and the folks at the Bushwick Outreach Center, also a school, rallied and staged a protest in opposition of a new federal law that requires schools to provide military recruiters with student contact information.

To avoid any misunderstanding, let me make it clear that Gehrke and his subordinates were not practicing the historic (and now prohibited) practice of roaming the streets of Brooklyn with a press gang to seize future deckhands. Nobody from Bushwick High School, or any other high school, has sobered up with a lump on the head and the shock of suddenly finding himself or herself miles out to sea without consent.

So what is the new federal law that deals with student contact information and where did Gehrke go wrong?

Over the last decade, the number of high school graduates who said they intended to join the military has dropped from 32 percent to 25 percent. At the same time, one-third of the nation's 22,000 high schools were refusing requests by military recruiter for students' names or access to campus. This translated directly to a 100-percent increase in the cost of recruiting one single neophyte soldier, and an upsurge of incidents where people unsuited for military service were recruited.

The military complained to Congress about the widespread refusal of public schools to provide the contact information, and Rep. David Vitter R-LA, sponsored an amendment to the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" Act.

This act, which Congress passed last year, is a sweeping federal measure that among other things holds schools accountable for student achievement. Vitter's position was that military recruiters, who offer scholarships and jobs, deserved to be given access on an equal par with college recruiters. The measure only required that military recruiters would be able to obtain information that would allow them to contact students by phone and through the mail - nothing more.

Charles Moskos, a professor and military personnel issues expert at Northwestern University, says that the federal measure is partly aimed at improving the quality of enlistees. He noted that "cold calls" by recruiters are not the most important recruiting tool anymore. "I don't think the prime market is high school," said Moskos, who noted that "the most effective recruiter" is a friend or family member who made the military a career."

So back to New York and the issues that apparently got Cmdr. Gehrke in the mess that he is in.

The New York Daily News on Nov. 6 published an article, "Rough Sailing In Bushwick," that covered a protest of the new federal law by students at the high school and outreach center. The article was balanced and articulated the military's role in shaping and educating young people. It also made the clear point that the U.S. military "is not the enemy."

The coverage of the protest prompted Gehrke to write a letter to the newspaper's "Voice of the People" section.

"The vast majority of students [at the two Brooklyn schools] are not qualified to enlist in today's Navy," Gehrke wrote. "Few exceed the minimum qualifying score on our vocational exam, and most have too many drug and/or police issues, to even be considered for enlistment." He noted that since January 1999, of 209 students from the schools who tried to enlist in the Navy, only four qualified.

From my corner of the foxhole, this is a dismal account of student quality and graduate achievement.

The administrations of both schools obviously have failed to educate their students, and their families and neighborhood environments have produced too many young people with drug and/or police issues. Gehrke's letter to the newspaper conveyed an unwelcome message based on hard facts.

But when it comes to the leftist politics of the Brooklyn schools, the facts be damned: It is Cmdr. Gehrke and not the failed educators of Bushwick who finds himself in the middle of a firestorm for offending their sensitivities. The students are now angrier than ever before and they want somebody's head on a platter for daring to enunciate their shortcomings.

Schumer, presumably finding it necessary to defend this constituency (e.g. voters) has joined the Bushwick cause. He is demanding that Gehrke be reprimanded by the Navy and forced to apologize.

This is a sad case of shooting the messenger - who happens to be an esteemed naval officer who had the guts to deliver a message bolstered with cold statistics - that no one in Brooklyn wanted to hear.

It is Cmdr. Edward W. Gehrke who deserves to receive an apology, but don't hold your breath.

J. David Galland is Deputy Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at defensewatch02 (at)
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Shooting The Messenger (english)
27 Dec 2002
This is a classic case of shooting the messenger because he brings the message of truth. Sensitivity be damned, this is the real world. I support the Naval officer and Schumer's stripes will be exposed in his attack on this fine officer.
Dave Edwards