Maine Greens Rock!
Portland Green Independent Elected Officials
Ben Meiklejohn, School Board: 756-7684
Stephen Spring, School Board: 450-1435
For Immediate Release: November 28, 2005
Green Independent Party School Board Members Set Precedent for the State of Maine
A policy authored by two Green Independent Party members on the Portland School Committee which allows high school students to opt out of unsolicited targeting by military recruiters may become a state law.
Green Independent Party and Portland School Committee Members Stephen Spring and Ben Meiklejohn have been getting national recognition for championing a creative policy that gives Portland high school students and their families the option to opt out of having their private information shared with military recruiters without their permission. Their policy makes students and their families aware of this provision hidden deep within NCLB.
Meiklejohn and Spring’s policy, which was adopted by the Portland School Committee earlier this year, allows students and families the opportunity to opt-out by checking off a box that is now printed on high school emergency cards, which parents have to fill out and sign at the start of the school year. Now a bill has been introduced in the legislature that would make the Portland policy state law.
“Everyone eventually agreed that simply adding a couple lines to the emergency card was the way to go. It turned out to be the easiest and most cost-efficient way to inform and empower students to make important decisions about their personal contact information,” adds Meiklejohn. They seem to have struck upon an elegant solution as cities and towns around the
country are beginning to adopt the policy.
“As members of the Maine Green Independent Party, we hold transparency in government and privacy rights for students and families close to our core,” says school board member, Stephen Spring, who worked with Ben Meiklejohn to co-author the emergency card provision that is now garnering state and national recognition.
On opening day of the school year, Meiklejohn and Spring welcomed students outside Portland High School with huge blown up copies of the emergency card and handed out pencils they had made up with the inscription:” Welcome Back to School Portland High Bulldogs. Opt-Out or Opt-In. It’s YOUR Decision!”
They choose Portland High because it is more frequently targeted by recruiters likely due to the greater number of minority and low income students there.
In the September 27th issue of School Board News, a leading industry publication that is sent to school board members from the littlest towns to the biggest cities across the country, recognized Spring and Meiklejohn for their precedent-setting boardsmanship in creatively dealing with this issue.
A bill based on the Portland Schools policy has been introduced by Rep. David Farrington of Gorham and will be taken up when the legislature convenes in January. Spring is pleased that the policy has made it to the legislature. “I’m honored to see our work being taken up at the state level” said Spring. Early data is showing that students from Deering HS and Portland HS opted out at rates of 52% and 65%, respectively.
Distributed by the Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org