Army school helps failing youth

This editorial appeared in The (Bowling Green) Daily News.

The Army deserves credit for coming up with an innovative idea to bolster its ranks while giving high school dropouts a way to further their education and serve their country.

Last week, the Army opened its first prep school in Fort Jackson, S.C., for those wishing to get their degrees and serve in uniform after completing that task.

The Army will turn six World War II-era buildings at the base into a mini-campus of spartan classrooms and barracks. Under the yearlong pilot program, classes of about 60 soldiers will enter the monthlong program every week. Their day begins in uniform at 5 a.m., with physical training followed by about eight hours of academic review classes and an hour of marching drill. Evenings are reserved for homework.

Recruits must score in the top half of the Army's aptitude test to qualify for the prep school and get two tries at a General Educational Development diploma. If they still can't pass, the Army will release them from their contract.

The program offers these students a chance to get a GED. Once they've completed their courses and received their GEDs, they are eligible for military service.

Army studies show that only 3 out of every 10 people of military age who are capable of joining the Army do so.

This new program is certainly worthy of a try. A lot of people have to quit high school and this gives them an opportunity to finish.

One example is Austin Swarner, who left school to care for his mother while she fought a losing battle with cancer.

At a time when the military is having trouble recruiting young Americans, this program has the potential to not only help them complete their high school education, but also a chance to help the Army.