Allegedly to ensure “that Maine students have the opportunity to explore military service,” Gov. LePage proposed two bills to the Legislature. The first would have required school boards to allow the administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery in high schools; the second would have guaranteed military recruiters the same access to students as accorded other postsecondary recruiters.

Each bill failed, and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen (“Maine Voices: Bowen: Students’ chance to explore military service shouldn’t be an issue,” Aug. 1) sees partisan politics as the cause. The possibility that they failed on their merits apparently never crossed Bowen’s mind.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is the admission and placement test for the U.S. military. While the armed services require it of all potential enlistees, it has no proven value in career counseling in the civilian world. Its main appeal to schools is that the Pentagon picks up the cost.

It is attractive to recruiters in that they obtain scores and contact information on potential enlistees. Forcing schools to give the test would take three hours of educational time from students and inadvertently release contact information of students with no interest in the military

This test doesn’t belong in schools. It belongs in recruitment centers, which routinely administer it.

No Child Left Behind is the Bush-era law that already requires a high school receiving federal money to allow recruiter access similar to that afforded college and job recruiters.

Despite complaints to Gov. LePage that a few schools were not doing so, those schools denied the charge and no evidence of noncompliance has been made public. Commissioner Bowen appears to back off that but notes recruiters “feel their uniformed presence is not uniformly welcomed in schools.”

Does Bowen suggest that the Legislature, in its January session, write a law requiring a welcoming attitude on the part of schools? It is the purview of local school boards to decide if a problem exists, and a “small-government” governor should champion that principle. 

There is nothing to suggest a motivated student has a problem getting information about enlisting in the military. The proposals were defeated for cause, as remedies looking for a disease.

Steven Zimmerman is a resident of Topsham.