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Service as Part of the Curriculum


President Barack Obama visited the District of Columbia's SEED School yesterday to sign the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. He described the school as "a place where service is a core component of the curriculum," according to a transcript of his remarks. President Obama added that "just as the SEED School teaches reading and writing, arithmetic and athletics, it also prepares our young Americans to grow into active and engaged citizens."

I report in a story just published at edweek.org on several new programs created by the Serve America Act aimed at engaging middle and high school youths in community service. With these new programs comes authorization for additional funds that schools may tap into. We'll have to wait, though, until the U.S. Congress approves a new budget for fiscal 2010 to see what's appropriated for the new programs.

But if your school has thought about launching a service-learning curriculum or strengthening one that is already in place, now is the time to read the fine print in the Serve America Act (search thomas.gov for H.R. 1388) and see how you might apply for federal funds to do so. And a couple of organizations—Innovations in Civic Participation and the National Youth Leadership Council—are poised to help you. The Corporation for National and Community Service will administer all the money that is appropriated for the Serve America Act.

In the meantime, Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, has announced several initiatives to back volunteerism. Among them is a requirement that all public school principals in the city create a plan to promote volunteerism among students.


Thank you for this posting--part of education is learning to be a member of the community and serving others.! It's a shame it is not a standard part of most curriculums. I will be tracking the Serve America Act closely, particularly in NYC with Bloomberg's plan.

You're right that we should read the small print. According to Alan Solomont, chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service, this program can eventually "involve" as many as 8 or 9 million people.

So with that in mind, consider this bit of small print:

"those in an 'approved national service position' may not try to influence legislation, engage in protests or petitions, take positions on union organizing, engage in partisan political activities, or, among other issues, be 'engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of proselytization.'"

Isn't that scarey? Everyone involved in this program is forbidden to express their opinion on legislation? forbidden to petition or protest? forbidden to "engage in partisan political activities," to boycott or support a strike? forbidden to go to Sunday school or build a church?

During the campaign, Obama said he wanted to establish "a 'Civilian National Security Force' as big and as well-funded as the U.S. military. Melody Barnes, director of the White House domestic policy council, confirmed that this is it.

A lot of the small print seems unconstitutional to me. People should consult their representatives.

Also note, participation in this program is MANDATORY for anyone receiving school loans.

What the HELL is going on? Wake up America! You better pay attention to this one!!!

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