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Jackson Public Schools’ JROTC Program Earns Top Marks

September 9, 2020

JROTC Program

JROTC Program

 “Success has many parents, but failure is an orphan.”  This famous quote immediately comes to mind when reviewing a recent report from the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor titled "An Analysis of JROTC" - A Jackson Public Schools Success Story.  This report provides an in-depth analysis of the JPS JROTC and highlights the many successes achieved by this program for JPS cadets as well as opportunities provided to other cadets across Mississippi and surrounding states.

As Director of JPS JROTC, the report identified me as the catalyst for the program’s success.  I am truly humbled to receive this acknowledgment; however, I’m also reminded of a famous speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt titled “The Man in the Arena.”  There is one passage in this speech that really strikes a chord, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know the victory nor defeat.”

JPS JROTC is indeed a successful program, but first and foremost, this success is directly attributable to the total team effort of the highly talented and hard-working JROTC instructors who go above and beyond every day to ensure our cadets have the opportunity to be exposed to the best learning and leadership development experiences possible.  The credit also belongs to all our building level and district level administrators along with the parents of cadets who enable this program to flourish.  The many significant partnerships established with organizations across the City of Jackson, State of Mississippi, and beyond as highlighted in the Auditor’s report are directly contributing to the JPS JROTC effort of building leaders for life.  I must also acknowledge the tremendous efforts of the hundreds of JPS cadets who are striving every day for excellence to develop their potential and prepare for their best life.  Even the graduates of this program who have adopted the mantra, “once a cadet, always a cadet” are constantly seeking opportunities to remain engaged and help lift everyone to a higher level.

 Now, consider this, approximately 26 percent of JPS high school scholars enrolled in JROTC annually.  The State Auditor’s analysis of JPS JROTC statistics over the last decade shows the success of these scholars is evidenced by a high graduation rate (almost 100 percent), a high percentage of graduates formerly accepted to institutions of higher learning (96 percent), millions of dollars in scholarships for graduates annually, high average daily attendance rate (95 percent), and average GPA 2.8.  Imagine the impact if more JPS scholars were enrolled in this highly successful program, which produces excellent results for scholars.

There are three primary misperceptions that cause some scholars and parents to shy away from JROTC

Myth: JROTC recruits young people for the military

Facts:  The overall mission of the JROTC program is, “To motivate young people through caring leadership and positive influence to be better citizens for life-long service to the community.”  The program is designed to teach high school students the values of citizenship, leadership, service to the community, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment while instilling in them self-esteem, teamwork, and self-discipline.  It prepares students for leadership roles while making them aware of their rights, responsibilities, and privileges as American citizens.  There is absolutely no military obligation or expectation incurred by scholars enrolled in JROTC.

Myth: Uniform requirements are too restrictive

Facts:  JROTC is a uniformed organization and all who wear the uniform must meet the prescribed standards.  The uniform is identical to that issued to enlisted members of the Army, Active, Reserves, and National Guard.  Therefore, cadets wearing this uniform must comply with established grooming and personal appearance guidelines. Cadets generally wear the uniform one day per week. Meeting standards when in uniform allow cadets the opportunity to participate in the full array of JROTC activities, while failure to meet standards severely limits opportunities and adversely affects grades in the JROTC class.

Myth: The only thing JROTC cadets do is a march in formations

Facts:  JROTC is a sequential and progressive 4-year course designed to correspond to the years a student spends in high school.  The specific subjects taught in JROTC include Citizenship in Action; Leadership Theory and Application; Foundations for Success; Wellness, Fitness, and First-Aid; Geography and Earth Science; Citizenship and American History.  We strive to reinforce all the other courses students take in high school while placing special emphasis on developing effective communication skills and improving physical fitness.  Students attend JROTC classes twice or three times weekly based on the A-B day block schedule, the same as they would attend any other class.  JROTC is an elective course; however, students enrolled are authorized to use JROTC as a substitute for the ½ Carnegie unit Physical Education (one year of JROTC required) and the ½ Carnegie unit Health Education (two years of JROTC required) graduation requirements in Mississippi. Students completing four years of JROTC (both JROTC III and JROTC IV) can also substitute JROTC for the 1 Carnegie Unit course, College and Career Readiness graduation requirement starting with the Class of 2021/2022.

JPS JROTC has excellent integrated-curricular activities and competitive teams to further enhance the total development of our cadets.  Each school has a JROTC Drill Team, Color Guard, Academic Team, Cadet Challenge (Physical Fitness) Team, and Adventure Training Unit.  Our cadets participate in various community service projects, march in parades and take field trips to locations such as the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN, the Vicksburg National Military Park, etc.  Cadets also have an opportunity to participate in an annual consolidated formal Military Ball, sponsor a Veterans Day program, and conduct many other activities designed to promote their total development.   These and other special programs are planned and coordinated by the cadets as part of their practical leadership experience.

Additionally, JPS JROTC has strong partnerships with Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, William Carey University, University of Southern Mississippi, Jackson Police Department, U.S. Federal Judge Henry Wingate, 100 Black Men of Jackson, Inc., Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, and others.  These partners provide very significant educational and leadership development opportunities for our cadets. 

The African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” is exactly correct; clearly, the success of the JPS JROTC has many parents through the support and involvement from multiple organizations and individuals across our village.

I agree with State Auditor Chad White “Jackson’s JROTC is exactly what is needed right now – a strong program that teaches discipline and structure and gets real educational results.”