So when I’m President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you’ll have done 17 weeks of service.
We’ll reach this goal in several ways. At the middle and high school level, we’ll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities. At the community level, we’ll develop public-private partnerships so students can serve more outside the classroom.
My initial thought: Contrast this plan to Ron Artest, who got 50 hours of community service for punching fans at an NBA game. Randy Moss got 40 hours for pushing a traffic police officer. And God help your child if they end up in the same community service program as Naomi Campbell, sentenced to 200 hours of service for assaulting two police officers at Heathrow Airport.
Paul at PowerLine is unimpressed. “Many school districts already impose this sort of requirement. My daughters’ district did. In practice, the regime seemed pretty foolish. Students who were motivated by altruism or ambition or a combination of the two did some good works, though less than one might imagine. The rest obtained their credit through activities whose value to the community was unclear. For example, the local high school gave community service credit for working in the school store. The school got free labor; the students got large amounts of the credit they needed (plus free candy); the community got nothing. really.”
I’m wondering about the President using federal funding to coerce schools into requiring community service for middle and high school students. Community service is (often) a noble act, but Obama appears to be very close to echoing John Kerry’s Orwellian call for mandatory volunteerism. Notice it’s always those who are old who are calling for mandatory time and energy commitments of the young.
Then again, Michelle Obama warned us:
Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.