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CNN SHOWDOWN: IRAQ

Interview with David Driscoll

Aired December 4, 2002 - 12:55   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: The military is heading back to high school, and stirring up some controversy along the way. A new law says that high schools must cooperate with the Pentagon and hand over information about its juniors and seniors or risk losing federal funding.
The information is supposed to help military recruitments. David Driscoll is the Massachusetts education commissioner. He joins us live from Boston with his input.

What sort of reaction have you been getting from parents on this issue?

DAVID DRISCOLL, MASSACHUSETTS EDUCATION COMMISSIONER: Well, surprisingly, not much. There has been a couple of issues about the concern about disclosure in this day and age where there are some messy divorces and concerns about abduction, but generally speaking, this is been a provision that's been pretty much accepted by parents and is going forth.

SAVIDGE: Do school systems there feel like they're being threatened by the U.S. government, either give us the information or lose your money?

DRISCOLL: Well, I mean, that's the provision. I don't think threaten is the right word. I think people in schools recognize that this is part of the law, and they are willing to accept it, have to accept it, it's the law, and it they are complying.

SAVIDGE: From what I've read about this, Mr. Driscoll, this is the same sort of access that is allowed, say, to colleges or those that want to push higher education or maybe even the private sector. Is that right?

DRISCOLL: Well, it is for higher education, institutions of higher education, and it can be used for scholarship purposes, et cetera. So I think the thing that makes it less controversial, at least in Massachusetts, is the fact that there's an opt-out provision.

SAVIDGE: And what is that, how does that work?

DRISCOLL: Well, parents and/or students can give written notification that they don't want their name, address, and telephone number given to recruiters. So to that extent, there is this opt-out.

SAVIDGE: Well, I always thought the military program was something to be proud of, a prestigious possible job for the future. Some seem to say that by having access to these students, it's almost like infiltrating the house.

DRISCOLL: Well, I think that issue has been raised, but I think it's frankly very minor. At workshops, principals, sometimes parents will raise that issue, but quite frankly on the ground, the recruiters are asking for the information, they are getting it, and parents aren't opting out.

So I think this kind of idea that it would be a ground swell of resistance just isn't the case. Now, maybe it's because everything is voluntary now. There isn't the kind of draft situation there was before, but at least in Massachusetts, this has not been a major issue.

SAVIDGE: David Driscoll, Massachusetts education commissioner. Thanks for coming in and clearing the air for us. We appreciate it.

DRISCOLL: Thank you. Thank you.

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