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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Not my kid

Junior ROTC takes a hit in L.A.
At Roosevelt High, a coalition of teachers and students works to end the program, and its numbers are dropping.
By Sonia Nazario, Times Staff Writer
February 19, 2007

FIRST SGT. OTTO HARRINGTON — tall, muscular, his head cleanshaven — has soldiered through battles in Bosnia, Kuwait and Somalia. He has patrolled Korea's DMZ.

None of that prepared him, though, for the attacks he has faced as senior teacher in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, where students and teachers have launched a crusade against military recruiting and JROTC.

Harrington blames their campaign for cutting the number of cadets at Roosevelt by 43% in four years, from 286 to 162. Some teachers urge students not to sign up for JROTC, he said, and have worked to end involuntarily placement in the program.

"They seem to think I'm some evil, horrible soldier down here trying to sacrifice our kids to Iraq," Harrington said in describing the increasing tensions on the Eastside campus.

The program's critics see JROTC as a Trojan horse targeting students in low-income minority schools with high dropout rates. "We are a juicy target," said Roosevelt social studies teacher Jorge Lopez.

At Roosevelt and other schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the anti-JROTC movement has helped drive a 24% drop in enrollment since 2003-04, Harrington and his critics said. The decline runs counter to enrollment nationwide, which grew 8% to 486,594 cadets between 2001 and 2006, fueled by a 57% jump in federal funding, according to the Department of Defense.

Roosevelt's "Rough Rider Battalion" was once among JROTC's finest, a powerhouse that routinely bested rivals in citywide competitions. In 1990, when the program had 400 cadets, the battalion's girls' drill team won the national championship.

JROTC students have uniforms and attend one cadet class each day, learning skills that include financial planning, map reading and how to give a PowerPoint presentation.

The Department of Defense-sponsored program, which is in 30 of L.A. Unified's 61 high schools, also includes physical education, target practice and marching drills. JROTC participants have no obligation to join the military, but students who complete the program are entitled to higher starting pay if they enlist.

Roosevelt 11th-grader Jesse Flores said that as recently as his freshman year, students didn't think less of kids for being in JROTC; some even stopped cadets to admire ribbons and medals pinned to their uniforms. "Now," Jesse said, "everyone says JROTC is bad."

The teachers are aggressively going after the program and the military. This must drive the Army nuts. They rely on Latinos and blacks as the base of their recruting. I get tired when people here say people are passive or don't give a shit. These people do not want their kids going to Iraq. Period. And they are making it clear

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