Washington, D.C.- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) today introduced legislation clarifying that all Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) programs are required to accept homeschool students who reside in their jurisdiction. JROTC is a voluntary program for high school students run by the military and designed to teach citizenship and leadership. Its mission is "to instill in students in United States secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment." Current law does not specify whether JROTC is open to homeschool students, resulting in a patchwork of polices between programs that denies some students the opportunity to participate in JROTC.

"JROTC is a valuable program that provides high school age students with discipline, confidence, and skills they will carry with them throughout their lives. We should be looking for ways to make these programs more inclusive, not keeping kids out. This bill will make clear that the benefits of JROTC are available to all students who want them, including those pursuing their education at home," said Cotton.

"For more than a century, JROTC programs have provided excellent opportunities for young folks to develop leadership skills, responsibility, and character and to learn the value of service to our country. Unfortunately, it's not clear whether students who are educated at home are allowed to participate. With an estimated 1.5 million American children in home-schooling today, including more than 20,000 in Alabama, we should be taking steps to make certain these young men and women can participate in this important program. I encourage my colleagues to support this bill that will ensure that any eligible student could take part in JROTC," said Jones.

Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) plans to introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) Background:

  • JROTC programs exist in all 50 states and American schools overseas (including Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands). 
  • JROTC has an estimated enrollment of over 500,000 students.
  • JROTC is not a military recruiting program, and students in the program have no obligation to serve in the military.
  • JROTC programs include leadership training and classroom instruction emphasizing service history and traditions.