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Author Topic: Obama administration to [potentially] require community service in schools
Shigosei
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Perhaps it would be better if Obama talked about serving your community as a patriotic duty -- for everyone, not just young people. No requirements, no oversight, no need to define just what counts as community service. Maybe he could set up some national days of community service, where people would be encouraged to volunteer together as a family.
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naledge
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Dag, where specifically?


-nal

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Christine
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I thought that the community service was in exchange for a tax credit. 100 hours of community service for $4,000 seems like a heck of a deal! Where else can you make $40 an hour in college?
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Lyrhawn
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Does fully refundable mean you would get a check in the mail for the amount over your taxes?

If not, this isn't going to help at lot of us at all.

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Christine
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According to Wikipedia, yes. Might not be the best source but they're good for a quick lookup.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_credit

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Lyrhawn
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Well that's something I'd certainly be interested then. Between that, Pell Grants and state scholarships, I might be able to get out of school with a very small amount of loans. Assuming he passes it sooner rather than later.
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Noemon
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quote:
Originally posted by Shigosei:
Perhaps it would be better if Obama talked about serving your community as a patriotic duty -- for everyone, not just young people. No requirements, no oversight, no need to define just what counts as community service. Maybe he could set up some national days of community service, where people would be encouraged to volunteer together as a family.

That sounds like a better plan to me. Otherwise it's going to alienate a lot of people, and create a huge bureaucracy at precisely the time when we're needing to curb new government spending as much as possible.
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Catseye1979
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In High School I had no service required to graduate. I figure I still did 400 to 500 hours of Community service a year between scouts and church. I never liked being forced to do somthing I already did.

If I had been forced to do it I most likely would have treated it like I treated reading logs....while I did far more then the required reading I never tracked it. I never wanted people to be able to say I only did it for the grade. If reading wasn't already the love of my life, forcing me to read and keep reading logs might have turned me off to reading. Some of my teachers realized this and instead of keeping a reading log asked me to make book reviews for the books I read, so that other students could use the reviews to find books they might like. This choice let me do two things I loved, read, and help people.

Now back to service, if they decided the service I did in church and scouts didn't qualify does that mean I'd have to increase the total amount of service beyond the 400 to 500 I did a year? I know I would never stop giving service that I wanted to do in order to find time to give service I was being forced to do.

For some people this might be great and helpful, for others this will turn them off to community service. Everyone is defferent, they learn and develop different. Are the number of people that learn to love Community service through this worth the number of people that will be forever turned off to community service through this? My parents knew me and my brother well enough that they needed to make my brother serve and let me decide for my own. The result is both my brother and I love Community service now. If they had treated both my brother and I exactly the same one of us would've ended up hating it. I think weather or not to force community service on people should be left up to the courts (as punishment for crimes) and to people who know the kids best, their guardian and prehaps their teacher.

At the least make some different options that work for different personality types.

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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quote:

*Actually, I'd just like to see him support those schools who choose to forego DARE, since it's something schools choose and pay for themselves.

For what it's worth, DARE is one of the many experiences that led me away from drugs and drug culture. Granted, I may have taken it too far. I look down on a great many people on Ritalin or anti-depressants.

___

As to the community service, it's a silly requirement and an obtrusive law until we talk about what constitutes community service and why we should require it. The conversation should come first, then maybe the law.

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AvidReader
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*snort* Try crying uncontrollably for a week, then come back and tell me how you feel about anti-depressants.

I couldn't deal with the problems in my life until I got my seratonin up high enough that I could think again. And once I had, I didn't need the drugs anymore. That's why it's not an addiction.

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PSI Teleport
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quote:
How the hell is NCLB racist?
I get the feeling that "racist" is Orinoco's Word of the Week.
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Teshi
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quote:
Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.
This is essentially a $40/hour job. If you're at college, better to work 100 hours than 600 hours or so at minimum wage.

As for high and middle school, 50 hours/year is essentially an hour a week. I got my required 30 hours community service to graduate from my Ontario high school by volunteering for a year with a Brownie unit once a week. It wasn't a terrible burden for the one year I did it. There's nothing required about this service. The language is vague- a "goal".

That said, I think a lot of high schoolers look at their crazy schedules and wonder where it will fit in (even though it's an hour a week, basically). Even in the last few years, homework and expectations have skyrocketed. Students will feel compelled to add this one, instead of making space. High schoolers these days, especially high-achieving students in high-achieving schools, are far busier than the days when Barack Obama went to school. I think Obama should talk to the people whom this will affect- many of whom do not vote yet- to work on what this idea will mean to them.

However, it's an excellent way of making a community run smoother. It's a way of introducing older kids to children (who they may someday have to raise), especially in a society that often alienates adults from its children. It's a way of providing services in needy areas that couldn't otherwise exist because there simply isn't any money for them.

Another qualm about hugely expanding volunteer programs is that the more people there are doing unpaid work, the fewer opportunities there are for paid work in the same fields. Why hire somebody new if you can get somebody almost as good doing it for free? One thing that I find in the job market at the moment is the lack of employers willing to train employees. So many people have free or paid-for experience that it makes no economic sense to hire people before they're trained. This actually encourages specialization. When employers and colleges see these hours on resumes, what will their reaction be? How much time is it healthy for young people to put into school and volunteering- especially students as young as 12 or 13?

I think the spirit is a good one. I don't think we should feel entitled to be paid for everything we do.

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The White Whale
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At my undergraduate college, one of the requirements for graduation with an Honors Degree was forty hours (cumulative) of community service. This amounted to ten hours per year, and there were still people just barely making the requirement during the last few weeks of the last semester. But if you put a monetary incentive behind it, I imagine many more students would have met this requirement earlier, and probably maxed out what they could get in rebate/credit.

I can definitely see this working at undergraduate college. I think that every student, no matter how busy they are with classes, could spare one or two hours a week if it meant saving $40 per hour. I have trouble seeing it working at the Middle or High School level.

But also, does the whole idea of community service come from doing work with no monetary benefit to the volunteer? Does it not somewhat sully the virtue of community service if the volunteer essentially makes money off of it?

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Noemon:
quote:
Originally posted by Shigosei:
Perhaps it would be better if Obama talked about serving your community as a patriotic duty -- for everyone, not just young people. No requirements, no oversight, no need to define just what counts as community service. Maybe he could set up some national days of community service, where people would be encouraged to volunteer together as a family.

That sounds like a better plan to me. Otherwise it's going to alienate a lot of people, and create a huge bureaucracy at precisely the time when we're needing to curb new government spending as much as possible.
If it was managed at the local level, why would it create a huge new bureaucracy? Despite the fact that I think there needs to be drastic spending cuts, I also think there are plenty of things that require spending increases, like funding for college. If it's voluntary and those funds are paid as a result of the work, then I don't necessarily have a problem at all with the idea, so long as it's executed well. But really, at the Federal level I don't see why this would create more than a couple of guys to deal with the paper work. Most of the details would be worked out at the local level I'd imagine.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
How the hell is NCLB racist?
Racist isn't the word I would have used, but NCLB is based on the premise that all students should perform at the same level in a few highly valued subjects. It expects all children to be cut from the same mold, with no expectation of individualism. It is based on a self-centric perspective that values only academic performance, specifically in math and literacy.

NCLB changes the focus of education from offering educational opportunity to demanding academic performance. It's a punitive system, that encourages the kind of pressure that poor students equate with frustration and humiliation for their lack of natural ability.

quote:
And I've seen numerous schools and classrooms that have been immensely helped by NCLB.
As far as I can tell, the main improvement in performance due to NCLB is due to accounting practices. I don't doubt that it has had some benefits, but the improvement in the Texas school district it was modeled on turned out to be because the district cooked the books. Elsewhere it might be more legitimate, but it's still mostly a matter of finding the right loophole, rather than improving the educational experience.
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scholarette
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quote:
Originally posted by The White Whale:

But also, does the whole idea of community service come from doing work with no monetary benefit to the volunteer? Does it not somewhat sully the virtue of community service if the volunteer essentially makes money off of it?

I imagine that whoever you are doing the service for doesn't really care if you are getting paid. they are just happy the job is getting done.
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Threads
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quote:
The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nationís challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.
They changed the wording on that pretty fast. I'm glad they did.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Farmgirl:
This Link seems to say a bit more in depth.

From the bottom of the page:
quote:
Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.
So this would just be for students wishing to get credit/funding?
See this is how I understood it and Obama has mentioned it more than once. I was under the impression that students who can't afford tuition will have this service program available so that their schooling is covered. If this is what it is I think it's a grand idea. If it isn't, I'm not sure how this is much different than places like Singapore and Taiwan where you are required to enlist in the army or the service corp for 1.5 years after high school.
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Orincoro
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NCLB has performance expectations based on ethnicity. So, for example, in Sacramento where there is a very large Russian population, there are Caucasian children who do not speak English at home, or who's parents don't speak much English. Those children are expected to perform better than Asian and Hispanic children on standardized tests because they are white, and when they don't for very obvious reasons, the school risks losing funding.

So a school that comes in with a disadvantage, and has white children who have poorer language skills than the test demands, the school is punished for that.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:
quote:
How the hell is NCLB racist?
I get the feeling that "racist" is Orinoco's Word of the Week.
I'd kindly ask you to tell me how many times you think I've used that word on this forum, even in the past few months. It's been a few- but not many. I believe I called two people racist, (may have been the same person twice) and then I've used the word here. I don't know of any others, but I could be wrong.

I'm not a class warrior, nor have I met many racist people in my life, nor do I tend to consider racism to be among our biggest problems today- but I think NCLB's policies are racist- I should be aloud to say that without worrying about PC backlash nonsense.

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airmanfour
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I've never seen "aloud" substituted for "allowed" before. Is that regional?
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Threads
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*zing*
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Kwea
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There is a difference between making someone do something and offering the option to do and and receive a benefit. I like the second choice, and that is what this is looking like at this point.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by airmanfour:
I've never seen "aloud" substituted for "allowed" before. Is that regional?

You mean they don't sound the same in your region? Where are you from?
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by airmanfour:
I've never seen "aloud" substituted for "allowed" before. Is that regional?

Just late.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
If it was managed at the local level, why would it create a huge new bureaucracy?

Lovely. So instead of the bureaucracy being federal, another burden will be placed on schools, almost certainly without giving them any additional funding to manage it?

Much better. [Razz]

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Lyrhawn
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Well, if they gave them the funding to manage it, it WOULD be much better. But I wouldn't want schools doing it by themselves anyways, at least, not at the administrative level. I'd imagine it as a partnership between local business, community leaders, the school's administration and in large part to the students themselves.

Doing it at the Federal level would be a mess. Trying to sort out the specific needs of each school and the surrounding communities would either be a huge waste of time, or would end up being hugely ineffective.

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Alcon
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Okay, wait a second. He said nothing about requiring anything in his campaign plans. When he was running it was some amount of community service in return for help with tuition in college. That I'd be okay with. I am not okay with mandating community service for anything. That's why it's called 'volunteering'. Encouraging, creating more programs and opportunities, making them more visible and easy to get into, this I am all for. And I've been trying to increase the number of hours I volunteer. But I am not okay with the government, on ANY level, demanding I do something with my time. NO!

PS. That doesn't sound like anything that was in his plans, so I'm not sure where you got your info threads, but I haven't heard anything about it.

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Rakeesh
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I have absolutely zero problem with the idea of public service being mandatory in schools. I mean, the kids are getting all that expensive education (whether they avail themselves of it or not) free, aren't they? Let `em give something back, whether they like it or not.

As for me, I got mine in through the BSA and my own private life, where it was sometimes onerous but far and away good times.

100 hrs is nothing. That boils down to a quarter-hour a week over one's high school career. Or, if one is committed, one summer's efforts. You know, I have to confess more than a little frustration bordering on contempt for people who find 100 hours over four years to be so objectionable.

quote:
I'll be honest though, part of me wants to know what I get out of it.
Free public education is what you get out of it. I'm not saying we shouldn't consider it a right of children or anything, I'm just answering that question if asked by a high-schooler.

quote:
In high school, I don't think I had 50 spare hours during the school year. I can tell you my students don't, either. Involved in too many activities, sports, and homework.
While I bow to your greater experience with high school kids, Paul, I have to admit: of the dozen or so high school age kids I know well enough to comment, maybe two or three of them don't have at least an hour or two a week to spare...and those that do, speaking for my own experience, are already doing some community service.
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The White Whale
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
I have absolutely zero problem with the idea of public service being mandatory in schools. I mean, the kids are getting all that expensive education (whether they avail themselves of it or not) free, aren't they? Let `em give something back, whether they like it or not.

I have no problem with this being commonplace at college. If a student is attending college, they are already better off than a lot of people, and should be able to recognize this and the value of community service. But I do have a problem with a middle or high school student, who is required to attend, to be forced into additional service/work.

By all means, provide incentives or high praise for students who do community service in middle and high school. I know that in my high school, admittance into the National Honor Society required a minimum amount of community service, and awards and recognition was given to each student upon graduation for their service. But to force a student to perform community service just seems wrong, IMO.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
But to force a student to perform community service just seems wrong, IMO.
Why? We force them to go to school, to obey their parents, and to not do a whole host of things.
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The White Whale
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I think it's the same problem I had before. Being forced to do service is not the same as choosing to do service. And I agree that at one end, it doesn't matter why the volunteer does the work. But at the other end, community service is about choosing to give back to the community. It loses something when it becomes a requirement.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Well, if they gave them the funding to manage it, it WOULD be much better.

And they usually do that, right? Like they did with ACG, SMART, TEACH . . . oh, wait . . .

quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
But I wouldn't want schools doing it by themselves anyways, at least, not at the administrative level. I'd imagine it as a partnership between local business, community leaders, the school's administration and in large part to the students themselves.

Someone would have to certify the hours. The businesses and community leaders are too loose a network to be effective -- too easy for someone to claim to be a non-profit business owner, and sell 100-hour certifications to students trying to weasel out. Schools already have to monitor community service programs as a required part of their work study programs. It actually makes sense for schools to monitor this, and specifically for it to be part of the FA department's job. If I could be sure the additional responsibility were reasonable (in terms of sufficient but not excessive guidelines and rules) and came with funding, I'd be ok with it.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by The White Whale:
I have no problem with this being commonplace at college. If a student is attending college, they are already better off than a lot of people, and should be able to recognize this and the value of community service.

Not all college students are 18-21 and have no outside responsibilities. Plenty have a job or two, families, and barely enough time to fit in 12 credits a semester. And they are often the ones who need extra financial help to pay for college the most.
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The White Whale
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Yeah, okay. I didn't think about that.
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Lyrhawn
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Rakeesh -

As a high schooler, I wouldn't have asked that. I'd have been hard pressed not to find 25 hours a year, or for that matter during a summer. It was a requirement for NHS students, though the verification of the hours was ridiculously lax.

As a college student, it's most certainly not free. Actually, it's not really free in high school either. Eventually when I buy a house I'll be paying local school taxes. I think of it as a sort of reverse social security tax in a sense. My social security taxes right now pay for today's retirees, whereas when I went to school, it was paid for by people in the work force, then later in life I'll pay for someone else's schooling. Regardless though, it might not be comparing apples and oranges, but it's certainly on a different level to discuss it for college students versus K-12.

quote:
from rivka:
And they usually do that, right? Like they did with ACG, SMART, TEACH . . . oh, wait . . .

Well if you're going to argue against hypotheticals like that, there isn't much point in trying is there?

quote:
Someone would have to certify the hours. The businesses and community leaders are too loose a network to be effective -- too easy for someone to claim to be a non-profit business owner, and sell 100-hour certifications to students trying to weasel out. Schools already have to monitor community service programs as a required part of their work study programs. It actually makes sense for schools to monitor this, and specifically for it to be part of the FA department's job. If I could be sure the additional responsibility were reasonable (in terms of sufficient but not excessive guidelines and rules) and came with funding, I'd be ok with it.
Well, business and community leaders are going to have to play SOME sort of role in verification. If you show up on a Saturday and do 8 hours of work, who's to say you did or didn't do it when you go back to the school and say what you did? I imagine it would have to be a partnership between schools, students, and the local organizations that actually need the help. The school can't spend all their time creating organizations or figuring out what needs to be done; the community would do that. The students would play a role there too, and in organizing their fellow classmates. And schools can work with the community groups to ensure that the students are acutally showing up and working, and they can then funnel that information back to the federal level.

I think the easiest way to organize the student population would be to have them register to volunteer just like they do for classes. That way there is a searchable database for students looking for something that suits them best, and that way there is a manageable number for the organizations to work with so they aren't flooded with a thousand students one day. Organizations can put in requests to the school, or even through a student run group (the students running the group could get volunteer credit hours of their own) that sets up the website, takes requests from organizations, posts links to their websites and puts down the allotment of slots desired. It'd be just like signing up for classes, only students would run that aspect of it instead of the registrar's office. I imagine the school would need to screen the organizations to see which ones are qualified, but once they are pre-approved, they might as well use tech-savvy and well organized student populations to do the rest rather than waste money on administrators.

In that sense, the only thing schools would need to do is check to make sure an organization is legit (which they'd only need to do once, and then maybe recertify every couple years), and work out some sort of validation program for the hours. It would be up to local businesses, community organizers and non-profit groups to ask the school for a certain number of students, and then up to the students themselves to take that information and organize it. I think that's a great three way burden sharing arrangement.

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Jhai
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I'm still confused why this proposed community service is tied to getting your school degree. If they want to force young people into community service - then fine, draft them and be honest about it. Don't tie it to educational degrees at the national level without first proving to educational professionals and the American public that community service is an essential educational skill, like math or English.

Edit: Glad to hear that they've changed the wording to make it explicit that the service would be voluntary (at least at the college level), rather than required. Note to self: read through all the previous posts *carefully* since you last checked the thread.

[ November 10, 2008, 08:56 AM: Message edited by: Jhai ]

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
from rivka:
And they usually do that, right? Like they did with ACG, SMART, TEACH . . . oh, wait . . .

Well if you're going to argue against hypotheticals like that, there isn't much point in trying is there?
You mean, using actual examples? Those are all the new college grants that have come out of Congress in the past 5 years. Not one included funding for schools to administer the programs (Pell does, for example), and each has a considerable burden of oversight. It does appear to be a trend.

(Personally, I think we'd all be better off if all three programs were repealed and the money rolled into increasing Pell, but don't get me started.)

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Tresopax
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quote:
I'm still confused why this proposed community service is tied to getting your school degree. If they want to force young people into community service - then fine, draft them and be honest about it. Don't tie it to educational degrees at the national level without first proving to educational professionals and the American public that community service is an essential educational skill, like math or English.
I'm pretty sure most things you learn in school aren't proven to be essential educational skills. But understanding the value of service is definitely more essential of an educational skill than, for instance, understanding symbolism in Shakespeare or knowing the capitals of every state.
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Jhai
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I think community service is a very valuable life skill, but I don't think it's an academic subject. My college would have afternoon/evening seminars that students could attend on things like personal finance & credit scores, how to network, how to write a resume, where you could volunteer in the community, and so forth. All of that is great information that a lot of students were glad to learn, and it was very cool that the university offered it. However, I would have been seriously irritated if we were required to attend those seminars to earn a degree.
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rivka
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Agreed, Jhai.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
I think community service is a very valuable life skill, but I don't think it's an academic subject.
But - unless you're speaking strictly about the college level, I'm not completely clear - since when have our schools been entirely about teaching academic subjects?
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Jhai
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I was thinking primarily of college, but actually, I can't think of one class I took after elementary school that wasn't on an academic topic. Of course, there are "life-skill" type courses that are offered at all educational levels - home ec & shop come to mind for high school - but they aren't required for graduation.
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Rakeesh
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I can think of one: my government class I had to take for graduation, to say nothing of the physical education classes I had to take as well. Hardly academic, either of them.
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Jhai
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Senior year we had a government class, but I don't see how it's not an academic class - I mean, it basically covered the history of the U.S. political system and how government policy worked. You could substitute the American Government (poli sci 101) at the local community college if you wanted, which is what I did.

I'll give you P.E., but we only had one year required. Anyways, physical education at my school was taught with a focus on learning sport rules, proper techniques, physiology, and the like. Half the grade was participation (edit: as in "did you show up to class or not?"), half the grade was from written tests.

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Liz B
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P.E. (4 years)
Health (1 sem.--I suppose you could define that as academic, but I don't see how it's any more "academic" than learning about your community & its needs)
Driver's Ed
Family Living
Home Ec & shop both required in 8th grade

Actually, come to think of it, I don't agree with the designation of community service as a life-skill type course. It would be very easy to make it an integrated part of an academic requirement.

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Tresopax
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What exactly distinguishes between "life skill" and "academic" requirements? I was always under the impression that the reason English and Math were required in high school or college was because reading, writing, and math were important life skills.
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Jhai
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Liz - you had to take all of those courses to graduate? Really? How did you fit in academic subjects? Why in the world would your school require driver's ed?

Maybe I just went to a very academically-motivated school district, but all of the students at my high school were too busy trying to fit in English, Social Science/History, Math, Science, Foreign Language, Fine Art, and then two more academic courses (often a second art, a second science course, or a class on something like philosophy or international law) to take courses like "family living" or shop. In fact, I know we didn't have home ec, driver's ed, or a shop class when I attended.

Tres, English & mathematics courses are required because they're fundamental academic subjects, not just because they're life skills. I truly doubt that you believe that our schools are in the business of teaching life skills, and I hope you don't want them to be. The majority of life skills are not suited to learning in a classroom environment, and are almost certainly best left to the families and communities at large.

Edit: Just to be absolutely clear, I'm not at all against life skill-type courses from being offered at any level of education; however, I think that requiring them to complete an academic degree is not a good thing.

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Blayne Bradley
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I had to take French to graduate High School and College. Its not academic either.
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PSI Teleport
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quote:
I'd kindly ask you to tell me how many times you think I've used that word on this forum, even in the past few months. It's been a few- but not many. I believe I called two people racist, (may have been the same person twice) and then I've used the word here. I don't know of any others, but I could be wrong.
That's why I said "Word of the Week".

I was just a little surprised to see you use it again in this thread, since I was fairly confused by/disagreed with your usage the previous two times. But I have to admit, what you said about NCLB makes more sense. I'm still thinking about it.

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