Holiday is an early beneficiary of the new program, which gives lower-performing recruits up to 90 days of academic or fitness instruction to help them meet military standards. In place for only eight months, it is already making a significant difference for both the Army and those who want to serve in it.
So far, 5,400 soldiers have made it through the prep course since it started in August at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. That’s an important boost since the Army fell dramatically short of its recruiting goalslast year, due to low unemployment and general wariness about military service. And at least one other military service, the Navy, took notice and is setting up a similar course.
For those who make it through the program, it can be life-changing. Holiday, 23, said many of her peers in her hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, didn’t make it out of high school, with some “dead or in jail.” Sitting outside the class building in her Army fatigues last summer, she talked about trying to pass the academic test for two years with no success.
“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
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