Article Archives by Subject:  Education

04-18-2013
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Melissa Harris-Perry
Melissa Harris-Perry
Subject: Whose Life Is It Anyway?

The provocative movie, Whose Life I It Anyway?, was released in 1981. It stars Richard Dreyfuss as Ken Harrison, a sculptor who is paralyzed from the neck down after a horrible automobile accident. When it becomes clear that he will never recover any additional use of his body and that his life is reduced to nothing more than the care that is offered by others, Harrison decides to end his life. However his wishes are blocked by those opposed to euthanasia and suicide. The story depicts the struggle between two views of life and confronts the question of whether Harrison—or any of us—are truly the ultimate masters of our fate, holding an absolute right to direct and dispose of our own life as we see fit?

Many other films such as The Truman Show, The Matrix or Dead Poets Society explore the question of the level of control that we actually exercise over our own lives, but none is so explicit as Whose Life Is It Anyway? In each of these stories, the underlying conflict is that of individualism versus collectivism: Do we, as individuals, possess the exclusive sovereign right to determine the course of our life, or are we in some way subservient to a collective group which holds sway over us and may dictate requirements and actions that must be obeyed, even if they violate our desires and will? To state the issue plainly, the simple question is, "are we free or are we slaves?"

This country was founded on the enlightenment principle of individualism. The Declaration of Independence states in no uncertain terms that each person possesses rights, and that "among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." And not only do we possess these (and other) rights, but they are "unalienable", meaning that they are an inherent, absolute and unassailable part of our nature as individual human beings. Nothing could be made clearer, and yet, as time has passed, fewer and fewer people in this country understand and adhere to these fundamental truths. Bit by bit, the age old principles of collectivism have reasserted themselves and are now poised to destroy the essence of what has made America unique in the history of the world.

It was not so long ago that statists had to make an effort to disguise their underlying principles and endevour to sneak them in beneath the conscious awareness of a public that still retained an American sense of life — by which I mean a respect for the virtues of self-motivation and self-responsibility, a belief that hard work was the source of reward and advancement, and an expectation that everyone was entitled to keep and dispose of that which they earned. However, six terms of Clinton, Bush and Obama, coupled with another two generations having been indoctrinated in government schools, has transformed the values of our society such that the cockroaches may now skitter about in the bright daylight without fear, openly spouting their collectivist goals. For example, here is Melissa Harris-Perry in a promotional spot for MSNBC, waxing on about a few collectivist notions which are to her, apparently, self-evident.

Well, like all progressive leftists, she stands on the shoulders of FDR and his Second Bill of Rights, proudly declaring that everyone has a "right to healthcare, and to education, and to decent housing, and to quality food, at all time [sic]," while neither bothering to ask who is responsible for providing and paying for these goods and services (the answer is "the collective"), nor considering what the implementation of these so called "rights" do in undermining the original inherent rights possessed by all individuals. Oh well, no time for that as you "Lean Forward!"

The other standout line was:

"People who work hard and sacrifice and save their money and make major contributions—
we think that they should earn a little more
"

Be self-sufficient, be responsible, make a major contribution, and the unspecified collective "we" just might decided that it's OK for you to earn a little more. Just how much? "We" will get back to you, but you can certainly forget about that 1% nonsense!

These sorts of views have become pro forma in the Obama age, but a new spot that recently aired, stretches into new collectivist (at least for the U.S.) territory.

Wait! What was that? Could you please run that by me again.....

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have, because we've always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven't had a very collective notion of these as our children. So, part of it is that we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it's everybody's responsibility and not just the household's, then we start making better investments.

Melissa Harris-Perry
[Emphasis added]

Ten years ago, would anyone on a major network have dared speak these words and then expected to retain their job? What a difference a decade makes. When conservatives argue that the institution of family is under attack, you have to look no further than Melissa Harris-Perry to see that it's true. And there's no longer any need for subterfuge. It's collectivism brothers and sisters, and we're proud of it! The state reigns supreme and individuals—whether adult or child—belong to us, to do with as we please.

Well, there was justifiable blowback from all quarters once word concerning this piece made the rounds, and Harris-Perry was forced to respond.

While there were a few patently disingenuous attempts to misrepresent some of the source of outrage being directed at her video, on balance I thought that Harris-Perry did a pretty reasonable job of identifying the actual core issue in this debate, while laying out her personal world view. Here is an excerpt:

Unless it is the core philosophical issue of our entire history: the balance between individual rights and collective responsibilities. ...
This is about whether we as a society, expressing our collective will through our public institutions, including our government, have a right to impinge upon individual freedoms in order to advance the common good. And that is exactly the fight we have been having for a couple of hundred years.
Are we a loosely affiliated group of bootstrapped individuals, or are we a people tied to one another through collective responsibility, to care for our young, our elderly, our poor, even our infrastructure.


Melissa Harris-Perry
[Emphasis added]

Well, it is good to see someone on the left at least identify and acknowledge the existence of the individualist viewpoint, even while going on to dismiss it without presenting any substantive arguments, just as she offers no reasons in favor of the "collective responsibilities" position, apparently expecting us to simply observe that it is self-evidently correct. This is a window into the state of today's culture—where viewers of programs such as this wait to be instructed in how and what to think, without the need to burden themselves with facts, rational analysis or the mental integration of thought into fundamental principles. Such a process would demand answers to a variety of questions, starting with:

  • What precisely is a "right" and how does it adhere to an individual?
  • What is the difference between a "negative right" such as the the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and a "positive right" such as the right to health care, housing or food?
  • What is a "collective responsibility" and how does it adhere to an individual?
  • Who decides what collective obligations must be met, by whom, and how is this to be enforced?
  • What justifies the imposition of a collective obligation on an individual who does not accept the premise of that obligation?
  • If goods and services are a "right", who pays for or provides them?  Why?
  • What standard is to be used to weight the "common good" against the "impingement of individual freedoms"?
  • Is the initiation of force an acceptable means for men to deal with one another under any circumstance?  Why?

The previous vidio clip is an abbreviated version of a longer segment that can be viewed here. Starting at the seven minute mark there is a panel discussion which includes Matt Welch, the Editor in Chief of the libertarian Reason Magazine. Now, of course, Welch has been selected to present the "opposition" point of view, for exactly the same reason that NPR relies upon David Brooks to represent the "conservative" viewpoint—because both can be counted on to concede the progressive premise on most issues. Nevertheless, it is instructive to watch the first few minutes of this discussion in order to see precisely how not to defend liberty. Here is an excerpt of Welch's comments:

The premise of [your statement] was wrong. We don't lack for spending on public education in this country. ...
We already have a social contract where we have said everywhere that every kid has a right to public education. That exists, and yet public education is not performing. So that is what we need, I think, to confront, not some notion that it is our overly private sense of our children that we somehow have to break through. No, we've broken through that actually, and what we haven't done is translate that into better education.


Matt Welch
[Emphasis added]

While Harris-Perry has just laid out the philosophical question of individualism versus collectivism and continues to try and steer the conversation back towards this topic, Welch falls over himself conceding the existence of a "social contract" that binds us all to one another with a communal duty, while granting that the state breached the sanctity of the family unit long ago and there is nothing left to discuss on that subject. Welch is not interested in defending the individual rights of the child against compulsory indoctrination, or the individual rights of the parent to determine the best course for their child's development, or the individual rights of the taxpaying adult that is forced to fund the education of other people's children. Instead, his concern lies with more pragmatic matters: the economic efficacy of education spending. In the cause of freedom versus slavery, Welch effectively argues for the latter and Harris-Perry wins, by default, in a TKO.

So we return to the original question: Whose life is it anyway? If you're waiting for someone like Matt Welch to defend your right to exist on your own terms, then I'm afraid you have already lost the battle. It's up to you to get vocal in identifying and demanding your rights. Speak up at every available opportunity. Do not allow the collectivists like Melissa Harris-Perry to go unchallenged.

Whose life is it?  "It's MY life. Keep you mitts to yourself and get out of my way!"

11-20-2012

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Free Books
Subject: Free Objectivist Books for Students

Jason Crawford is an Objectivist who blogs at The Rational Egoist. He has created a website which acts as an exchange between students who would like to read one of the books in the Objectivist canon and individuals who are willing to provide the book or books to be read. His site is simply called:
Free Objectivist Books for Students


Here is a bit of what Jason has to say about this project:
    About this site

      This site gets donors to send Objectivist books (books by Ayn Rand or about her philosophy of Objectivism) to students who would like to read them. Our goal is to get more students reading Ayn Rand.

    How it works
      Students create a simple public profile with their name and school, and say what book they want to read. Donors browse a list of students and choose which ones they want to send books to. The donors send the books to the students directly.

    Can I donate used books?
      Yes, used books are fine.

    Do I have to mail the books myself?   Can I just buy them online?:
      Yes, that's fine. Many donors buy books on Amazon or AbeBooks and ship them directly to students. No need to pack boxes or visit the post office.

    What will you do with my info?
      Your public profile shows only your name and city (and for students, school and area of study). Students and the books they want to read will be displayed publicly on the site so that donors can find them and fulfill their requests.

      Your email address will be used by us to contact you, but will not be displayed publicly. For students, your mailing address will only be shown to the donor who sends your book.

For additional information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you are interested in spreading the philosophy of Objectivism, this is one straightforward and reasonably inexpensive way to participate. Click on the link above and help to educate the next generation of intellectuals in the cause of freedom, individual rights and the pursuit of happiness.

04-07-2010

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Social Innovation Fund
Subject: Building Obama's Army

Do you know what a "Social Innovation Fund" is? Do you need one? Did you know you were already paying for it with your tax dollars? Apparently, it's  "an entirely new way of doing business."  You don't say! Tell me more.

According to this press release the fund's new director, Paul Carttar:
    has been at the forefront of transforming the nonprofit sector by expanding innovative solutions to address national challenges and helping to set a higher standard of results and impact for the sector.

    The SIF is an innovative initiative that is expected to generate nearly $200 million in public-private funds to support transformative solutions to major social challenges in communities throughout the U.S. The SIF is intended to be a catalyst for collaborative efforts across sectors that will increase the importance of evidence in the funding of nonprofit organizations. Its work will be focused in the areas of economic opportunity, youth development and school support, and healthy futures."

    The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.

The phrase, "youth development and school support", means forced labor in community service projects for school children through the Service-Learning program funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Who knows what the real implications of "economic opportunity" or "healthy futures" will be.

Currently, there are 15.5 million federal, 18.8 million state, and 49 million local, civilian government employees, and roughly 3 million active and reserve military personnel, which is a total of 86.3 million, or about 28% of the entire U.S. population, including children.

But, according to Barack Obama, this is an insufficient workforce for addressing the problems facing America. So he spends billions of additional dollars which do not exist, to create a private civilian army (civilian national security force) that he called for during his presidential campaign. He budgeted $6 billion on the GIVE Act, which includes the Corporation for National and Community Service which, as stated above, employs over 5 million additional people. The Service-Learning program is forcing an ever increasing percentage of our grade and high-school children into mandatory labor, and the nationalization of the educational loan industry is nothing more than a ploy to allow the government to impose similar requirement upon all college students.

Add to this the 50,000 newly hired census workers, all of the people recently employed by the government using the diverted TARP funds and the 18 billion allocated by the recently signed "jobs" bill. And factor in all of those employed in the financial, banking, automotive, housing, insurance, energy and medical fields who are coming under the direct control of the federal government as these industry segments are nationalized.

And then we get to the recently passed H.R.3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which includes Title V describing the new government health care workforce. This legislation includes provisions for a new National Health Care Workforce Commission (Sec. 5101), Public Health Workforce Recruitment and Retention (Sec. 5204), Allied Health Workforce Recruitment and Retention (Sec. 5205), National Health Service Corps. (Sec 5207), Nurse-Managed Health Clinics, as well as various, grant, loan and training programs, and possibly an additional 16,500 new IRS employees to monitor citizen compliance (Sec. 6101). But the best part of the bill is Sec. 5210, which authorizes over $62 million for the creation of a Ready Reserve Corps, a new civilian military consisting of commissioned officers appointed by the President and subject to the orders of the Surgeon General.

Bit by bit, the administration extends it tentacles over the private sector of the economy and the lives of every citizen, placing more and more aspects of our lives under its direct control. And they still have their sights set on you! Mandatory conscription of every American into similar programs is coming. Work to stop it now, before it is too late!
03-25-2010

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Student "Loans
Subject: This Is How We Get Things Done—Chicago Style.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, back in September 2009 (see here), I was talking about the Obama administration's plans to nationalize the entire student loan industry, with the intent of then being able to tie the government's single source of educational loans to a requirement for mandatory national or "community" service.

Well folks, you are not going to see that legislation be debated in in the chambers of Congress, nor will you see it come up for a vote by your elected representatives. This isn't going to happen because this heavily contested piece of legislation known as the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, is, as reported in Newsweek and by The Hill, simply going to be attached to the health care modification package being considered by the Senate, and enacted by a simple majority of senators using the budget reconciliation process.

And that's how we do it in Washington D.C. these days. If you can't get you legislation passed through normal constitutional channels, there is always a procedural trick or a bribe or a threat that can be used in its place.

I guess I'm still dumbstruck from the realization that our culture has sunk to such a low, that it is now possible for so many Americans to look at these underhanded politiebureau tactics and simply sit back and smile at the results.

"The State is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else."
-- Frederic Bastiat

01-22-2010

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Corporation for National & Community Service
Subject: And this is how it's done ...

Here is an excerpt from today's announcement from the Corporation for National & Community Service, the agency that, on December 16, 2009, received $1.149 billion when Obama signed the Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act:
    Washington, DC—The Corporation for National and Community Service announces the availability of $650,070 for new Learn and Serve America School-Based grants to Indian Tribes and U.S. Territories to involve school-age youth in service-learning projects that simultaneously support student development and meet community needs.

    "These grants will help put students on a path to a lifetime of service and civic engagement," said Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation. "Service-learning is a teaching method that offers students the opportunity to have an immediate impact on challenges facing their communities."

With over $1 billion of unearned taxpayer dollars, the agency dangles grants in front of various groups and educational institutions, only asking that they engage in a process of indoctrination of their youth in exchange for the funds.

Bit by bit our already failing educational system is being transformed into a community work camp, where students are forced to contribute their labor while being trained for "a lifetime of service".

Once again I raise the call-to-arms, asking concerned people to vocally protest this form of further intrusion into our educational system which is allowing the Obama administration to sneak in their program for nationwide mandatory service, one student at a time.
12-09-2009

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Haaretz.com
Subject: Service As A Social Norm

Israel has always maintained a national defense force by way of mandatory conscription, but even that country is upping the ante with a proposal to extend mandatory service to all citizens in the country. Reuven Gal reports in an article titled, " Service as a social norm", as follows:
    Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has called for a form of universal national service in Israel, with the army picking those conscripts best suited for military service and the others assigned to civilian duties.

    In Ashkenazi's utopian vision, all the young people in the country - whether Jewish, Arab, secular, Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox - will report to induction centers upon receiving their call-up papers.

    "The IDF will have the first choice, and will take the people it needs. After that, everyone moves on to the next pavilion and are then classified for civilian service. They could serve in the police or the fire brigade," said Ashkenazi, not forgetting to add hospitals, schools, nursing homes and environmental activities. Such an arrangement, he asserted, would not only meet the country's security requirements, but also answer a social need.

The author then makes a stab at arguing against such a program on ethical grounds.
    For its part, Israel is still under an existential security threat, and therefore maintains a system of compulsory conscription.

    The need for civilian national service does not spring from an existential threat. The activities of the 13,000 young people doing national service in schools, hospitals, fire stations and with the police are indeed meant to fulfill vital needs, but they do not have to do with the survival of the community.

    The morality of demanding that people who are exempt from military service serve instead in other areas is dubious. They should certainly not be imprisoned as deserters if they balk at it. Would ultra-Orthodox or Druze women whose customs and traditions bar them from such service be put in jail?

    This is where a more ethical alternative to compulsory service comes in - volunteerism. National service duties take in such tasks as assistance to children with special needs, work in hospitals and HMOs, road safety instruction; it is hard to imagine having to do such things under a conscription order. They should be done out of an inner commitment, not external coercion.

Unfortunately, he has lost the battle before he begins, because he has already ceded the fundamental principle that the State's needs supersede the rights of the individual when he allows that the existence of "an existential security threat" justifies "a system of compulsory conscription". Once that basic relationship between the State and its citizens is established, there is no valid argument remaining to counter the current proposal which claims that Israel's vital social needs should also be met by a new class of conscription. After all, a need is a need, whether stemming from internal or external causes.

And here is why Mr. Gal is not able to mount a cogent defense:
    Calls for universal national service may sound right, but they are wrongheaded in terms of both security and social needs. A controlled, egalitarian and impartial nurturing of the existing national service system will gradually produce a normative state of affairs in which youngsters serve the community - in the military or in a voluntary civilian framework - and it will be so accepted and established that only marginal elements will stay out of it.

    Social norms will be more powerful and more ethical than conscription papers, even if they are signed by the chief of staff.

He cannot fathom a proper defense based upon the rights of the individual, because he explicitly rejects such a concept. He advocates a social egalitarianism where all citizens are the same — in principle, if not in practice — with none supposed to rise above any other. And how would this unnatural result be achieved? By "impartial nurturing" — whatever that might imply! Maybe the "Service-Learning" programs in the US would fall under that heading?

This puts a lot of faith in "social norms". Exactly how long can such a system stand up to "marginal elements" like me, not only refusing to participate, but making a loud vocal argument in opposition and encouraging others to exert their own independence by not participating as well.

No, I'm fairly sure that a truly voluntary system will not meet the real goals of those people pushing this proposal. Just as the Obama administration realizes that it is important to pay lip service to the idea of "volunteerism" while funding the push for mandatory national and community service under the nation's radar.
12-06-2009

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Sonia Sodha
Subject: Think Tank: National Service for 7-Year-Olds

An article by Sonia Sodha in the UK Times titled, Think tank: National service for 7-year-olds, highlights the scope and intent behind the drive to impose a mandatory national service requirement on the citizens of many countries across the globe. Although this story is about Britain, there is nothing here that doesn't apply equally to what is currently transpiring in the United States. Here are a few excerpts:
    "Broken Britain" has become a broken record. Politicians and commentators sketch a society consumed by greed and celebrity culture, bereft of the "we're all in it together" values of post-war Britain. We all agree that we need to create a stronger society, yet all sides seem to struggle with practical ideas for how to do it.

    Demos
    [the think tank] today launches a report arguing that the principle of national service, abolished in Britain in 1960, still has something to offer. A national civilian service — a sort of "civic corps" — would look very different from its military forebear: it would be flexible and tailored to people's lives, not a one-size-fits-all compulsory scheme.

    It would, however, be based on the same principles that underpinned wartime service: the idea that we owe something to each other and that citizenship is more than a soulless contract between individuals and the state. It would be paid for by introducing interest on student loans, raising about £1.2 billion a year.

    The scheme would see people serving throughout their lives, taking up opportunities, from school projects at the age of seven to paid leave for employees. For a week a year, people would down their tools or keyboards and pick up litter, dredge canals, become reading mentors or help the elderly. The community benefits would be huge.

    If it is to work, the service must be universal.

    Youngsters, your country needs you.

    [Emphasis added]

Just as I have been arguing throughout these many articles, the premise upon which the entire idea of national service rests is the socialistic belief that we are not sovereign individuals possessing an unalienable right to our own lives, but instead are merely components of society; a group to which we "owe something" simply as a consequence of our existence. And in fulfilling that duty, we must strive to make our subservience to the state something more "soulful". Please write to me with an explanation if you have any idea what this actually means. It must be important because it comes from a "think tank"!

And just like voters in Chicago, the British plan is to enforce their program early and often. With a bold stroke, they would conscript you at age seven and then keep a guiding hand on your throat throughout the remainder of your life. But there is nothing further to discuss, since the "community benefits would be huge". Any what could be more beneficial that dragging productive citizens away from their selfish "tools or keyboards" and reassigning them to perform valuable community tasks like "picking up litter", "dredging canals" and "reading to the elderly". Actually, it sounds more like a plan for teaching an entire country how to Go Galt!

To further demonstrate that words have lost all meaning for a great segment of society, the think tank, Demos, states right at the top of it website:
    Demos is a London-based think tank. We generate ideas to improve politics and policy, and give people more power over their lives. Our vision is a society of free and powerful citizens.

They are first and foremost promoters of "free and powerful citizens", with the intent of giving "people more power over their lives". Raise both of your hands if you think there is no contradiction between their stated purpose and their proposal for mandatory national service. For the rest of you, use your hands to pour a drink and raise a toast to 1984 - a few years late, but still arriving fully intact.
12-06-2009

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Air Cargo Blog
Subject: Service-Learning

I thought the following was funny. On AirCargoBlog.com, a desperate high school student is looking around for some "community service" work, apparently in order to fulfill his mandatory requirement for graduation so that he might be allowed to attend college. A couple of the responses were, ahem, interesting. Here is the initial query:
    I want to now [sic] if it is possible (security and liability wise) to work cleaning out commercial aircraft at an intl Airport. I need at least 72 community service hours if I plane to go to a excellent college and could not thing [sic] of anything better then cleaning out a B757.

    I am going into my senior year. I mention the word "community service" meaning without pay ... I would be doing back flips to clean out airplanes for free. Very excellent what about liability will they accept me if I am using my own insurance?

Here is a portion of the first response:
    Please keep in mind that "community service" is usually assigned by the courts to minor offenders, and is associated in most people's minds with infractions against the law.

    So it's a excellent thought never to say "Community Service" by itself. Instead say "Community service for college admission.

Yes, as I pointed out previously, the function of "community service" does have a bit of an identity problem. It does amaze me that most educators seem oblivious to the fact that mandatory service requirements, imposed upon students, certainly convey the stigma of a punishment, which no amount of verbal whitewashing can conceal.

And here is the second response received:
    How would that be considered community service? It would not benefit the community, only a commercial, for profit, enterprise. If that's your thought of community service, you could wash and wax my car while you are at it.

I actually feel sorry for this poor kid. In his struggle to complete this assignment, he has clearly been given no guidance and is, in my opinion, rightfully clueless about what others expect of him. It is difficult to know if he is making a good faith effort to perform real work for his 72 hour sentence, if he thinks that this work would benefit his community, or if he sees the job of cleaning planes as a way to pocket treasures left behind by passengers. But one thing is for sure. These are 72 hours that have nothing to do with education and everything to do with socialization.
12-04-2009

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Slippery Rock University">
Subject: New Government Program Pays Students For Community Service

As reported by Mike Madden in the Slippery Rock University's newspaper, The Online Rocket, The government is extending its national service claws into universities by paying college students to perform community service work.
    A new government program has been enacted that'll pay students for doing community service and reimburse them for some of the costs that come with achieving a post-secondary education.

    The new program, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, will pay a maximum of $2,500 to students for their efforts in community service and in the classroom.

    The students must be at least part-time and serve 100 hours.

    The program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was passed by President Barack Obama in February.
    [...]
    The act will require the education secretary and the treasury secretary to calculate whether the community service facet of the program is pragmatic.

    "Very few students are worth $25 an hour for community service, especially when it is unknown as to what constitutes 'community service,'" said Lauren Wilhelm, a senior political science major.

    "Can I be paid $25 an hour for picking up garbage along I-79? Do I have to go to a government sanctioned body to oversee my community service?"

As economics major Matt Ligman comments later in the article:
    "For students to potentially get upwards of $20 an hour for maybe just doing community service seems like a lot. There are a lot of men and women who have been working their entire lives and don't make that much. It doesn't really teach hard work."

Even this student can see the folly in this. But no one seems to be asking the really important question. "If this program doesn't teach hard work, then what does it achieve?" The only answer is that it makes more people both wards of and servants to the state, by getting them to rely upon the government to provide for an ever widening sphere of their wants and needs in exchange for a willingness to do the government's bidding.
11-28-2009

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Academy of
St. Joseph
Subject: School Requires Parents to Perform Community Service

According to an article by Elizabeth Humphrey titled, School Requires Parents to Perform Community Service, the Academy of St. Joseph in NYC is now requiring family members of its students to perform community service work.
    The Academy of St. Joseph in New York City is a part of a growing trend of schools that encourage parents to volunteer. Opened in 2007, the Academy requires each family to provide 20 hours per year assisting in school-community projects or within the school.
    [...]
    Typically, community service was reserved for middle and high school, but educators say there benefits to starting young. When parents and children begin volunteering in grade school, it becomes an automatic gesture that can be "reinforced and repeated at home," which helps to foster a partnership between the school and the home, Coombs says.

    [Emphasis added]

Notice how the article's author slides right into todays double-speak. A "requirement" is called "volunteering" and the mandated program is a "partnership", just like the public/private "partnership" our government now has with many of our fine financial and business institutions.

There is no need for the Obama administration to make headlines by imposing a mandatory national service requirement on all Americans from the top down when they are already doing such a fine job of achieving the same results from the bottom up, through our school system! The community service requirement started with seniors and was then extended to all high school students. Junior high students followed, and then the program was expanded throughout grade school. Now the parents are being required to participate. That does a pretty good job of snaring the majority of the populace right there. And it is all happening with hardly a peep of protest from the general public.
11-24-2009

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Star Tribune
Subject: Indoctrinating the Indoctrinators

As the government continues its speedy imposition of forced community service work on the country's students through the Service-Learning initiative, one might wonder just what sort of training do the teachers in these classrooms have for administering these programs, and what type of mentoring can we expect them to provide to their charges. Well, wonder no longer. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, Katherine Kersten does an excellent job of reporting on one answer in her article, At U, future teachers may be reeducated. Did she actually mean to report that teachers were to be educated? No, she really means reeducated! From the article:
    Do you believe in the American dream -- the idea that in this country, hardworking people of every race, color and creed can get ahead on their own merits? If so, that belief may soon bar you from getting a license to teach in Minnesota public schools -- at least if you plan to get your teaching degree at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus.

    In a report compiled last summer, the Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group at the U's College of Education and Human Development recommended that aspiring teachers there must repudiate the notion of "the American Dream" in order to obtain the recommendation for licensure required by the Minnesota Board of Teaching. Instead, teacher candidates must embrace — and be prepared to teach our state's kids — the task force's own vision of America as an oppressive hellhole: racist, sexist and homophobic.

    The task group is part of the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative, a multiyear project to change the way future teachers are trained at the U's flagship campus. The initiative is premised, in part, on the conviction that Minnesota teachers' lack of "cultural competence" contributes to the poor academic performance of the state's minority students. [...]

    The report advocates making race, class and gender politics the "overarching framework" for all teaching courses at the U. It calls for evaluating future teachers in both coursework and practice teaching based on their willingness to fall into ideological lockstep.

    The first step toward "cultural competence," says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize — and confess — their own bigotry. Anyone familiar with the reeducation camps of China's Cultural Revolution will recognize the modus operandi.

    The task group recommends, for example, that prospective teachers be required to prepare an "autoethnography" report. They must describe their own prejudices and stereotypes, question their "cultural" motives for wishing to become teachers, and take a "cultural intelligence" assessment designed to ferret out their latent racism, classism and other "isms." They "earn points" for "demonstrating the ability to be self-critical."
    [...]
    Future teachers must also recognize and denounce the fundamental injustices at the heart of American society [...] In the process, they must incorporate the "myth of meritocracy in the United States," the "history of demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values, [and] history of white racism, with special focus on current colorblind ideology."

    [...]"How can we be sure that teaching supervisors are themselves developed and equipped in cultural competence outcomes in order to supervise beginning teachers around issues of race, class, culture, and gender?" [...] Perhaps a training session disguised as a thank you/recognition ceremony/reception at the beginning of the year?"

    When teacher training requires a "disguise," you know something sinister is going on.

    [Emphasis added]

And only then will they will be ready to send forth and pass on their indoctrination to your children.

[Thanks to Mark Kalinowski for bringing this article to my attention.]
11-24-2009

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Community Service
Subject: More Mandatory Community Service for Students

In an earlier article, I reported that the Lockport Township, IL School District was considering imposing mandatory community service on all high school students as a requirement for their graduation. Well, as this follow up article indicates, they accomplished their mission.
    LTHS District 205: Community service added as curriculum requirement

    Beginning next school year, Lockport Township High School students are going to have to give back to the community in order to graduate.

    The LTHS District 205 Board of Education on Nov. 16 approved a final proposal to add community service to the school's curriculum beginning with the 2010-11 school year. The program will be introduced on a scale to all classes, with the Class of 2014 and all future classes required to complete 40 hours, while the Class of 2011 will be required to complete 10 hours. The Class of 2012 will be required to complete 20 hours while the Class of 2013 has to finish 30 hours.

    Adding the curriculum requirement was approved by the board with a 6 to 1 vote. Michael Lewandowski was the lone dissenting vote.
    [...]
    All other students will be able to choose from a list of government and community organizations to complete the hours.

The kids never had a chance. Once the fundamental principle of an individual's right to their own life was breached, and the government was handed the power to impose mandatory education on our youth, there was no effective argument remaining to protect them from the imposition of any other form of involuntary servitude.

And these Illinois children are not alone. In the Arizona Central, a "recent news article" states:
    Service teaches impact on community

    Some public-school districts, such as the Deer Valley Unified School District, require seniors to perform 8-10 hours of community service as part of the American/Arizona Government and AP United States Government and Politics/Economics classes.

    The Gilbert Classical Academy in Gilbert Public Schools requires community service hours. Other districts, such as the Glendale Union High School District and the Agua Fria Union High School District, have community service built into the curriculum.

    Debbie Peters, a curriculum and instruction specialist for Deer Valley Unified, said the community service requirement has been a part of the curriculum for a number of years. It is meant to teach students about being active citizens in a democratic society.

    "Having that requirement helps show students that they are a valuable part of the community and when they do good things, the community is a good place to live," she said.

    Mike Barrera, a government teacher at Barry Goldwater High School, said he wants his students to come away with a feeling of doing something good for people.

    He hopes students will continue to seek out community service opportunities after graduation.

    "The value of what they're doing now comes in when they're doing it on their own," he said.

"It is meant to teach students about being active citizens in a democratic society." The obvious lesson to be learned is that an active citizen in a democratic society is one who is commanded into action by an authority.

"Having that requirement helps show students that they are a valuable part of the community and when they do good things, the community is a good place to live." This is a load of crap. If something is good to do, then people choose to do it voluntarily. Being forced to perform community service says that the community is good for me, when you are forced to do what I want you to do. The lesson is that others have decided that you owe an obligation to your community and you will be forced into discharging that duty, regardless of what you may think or choose.

"Mike Barrera, ... said he wants his students to come away with a feeling of doing something good for people." And there it is. School is not about education, which is an intellectual pursuit. Instead, it is all about socialization, which is mindless emotional indoctrination.

"The value of what they're doing now comes in when they're doing it on their own." Because, that's when we know that the indoctrination has taken root and the active, independent mind has been ground out of existence.
11-21-2009

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All Voices
Subject: One Good Dose of Compulsion Deserves Another

Once you cross over the line by imposing mandatory education on children, you transform schools into prisons, with all of the associated problem that entails. Here is a short article that appeared on the website All Voices which is interesting for some of the selected follow up comments by parents and community members.
    School Wants Parents To Pay For Childrens Detention

    Nutley,N.J. — A New Jersey school district wants parents to pay for their childrens punishment.

    It's a proposal that has some parents up-in-arms!

    Two board members are sponsoring the plan that would target students who are habitually sent to detention.

    A police lieutenant,said
    [sic] the proposal would save the district $10,000 a year and force parents to be responsible for their kids.

    Some state educators call the plan a violation of New Jersey's constitution.

    Nutley officials said they'll look at community service for kids if the plan doesn't go through.

    Comments:
    • What type of nutcake politican [sic] thinks that parents have money for paying for their kids detention stay during a recession?

    • I think this is an unfair new proposal. It will help ruin the parents' relationship with their kids.

    • I actually like this idea. The parents are responsible for teaching their children how to act with some type of discipline in public.

    • What is there to pay for? the teacher just sits there in a room with a bunch of ne'er do wells. No reason for pay that i can see. [sic]

    • I think the community service option is more viable. In times like these we all need our money. Parents are responsible for their children, but it will teach the child more in the long run to give them community service hours instead of just sitting in a classroom for 30 minutes.

    • School should be free and not cost any more

Never is it questioned by anyone that schools should not be a detention camp for troubled youth. Of course, if school attendance was not forced upon these kids, then only the ones who wished to get an education would attend and would not have their education disrupted by troublemakers who demonstrate that they refuse to learn.

I also like how the school is considering "community service" as a punishment for students who misbehave. I wonder what message that sends to other students who are forced to perform community service as a mandatory requirement for their graduation. Will it be obviously clear that their community service is a "good thing" and not some form of punishment as well? Oh who cares. After the education that they are receiving, I'm sure that few of them will ever think to even ask the question.
11-12-2009

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Lincoln School
Subject: Middle school students learn about community service

The Lincoln Journal covers news from the central-eastern Massachusetts region. The following are excerpts from an article published on 11-12-09 titled, Middle school students learn about community service:

    Students and teachers put their textbooks away and took part in a different type of educational experience at the Lincoln School last Wednesday.

    Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from the Brooks School and Hanscom Middle School spent the morning learning how to be better citizens of their community and the world at a conference, entitled "Serving Our Community and Beyond."

    [T]he conference gave students a chance to pick from 17 different workshops on various outlets for community service and civic engagement
    [...]
    In his talk, Cambra stressed the importance of helping those less fortunate, especially for those who have been blessed by good fortune.

    "When you see a need, you can't walk away," he said.

    The message hit home with many students in attendance.
    [...]
    According to Sterling, Fairchild and Fox Tree conceived of the conference as just the beginning of a larger district initiative focusing on community service and civic engagement.

Now, the compliant 12-14 year old children have learned to be "better citizens", having been taught that the "needs of others" place a moral claim on their time and energy; a duty which they must discharge through community service.

And that's "just the beginning!"

Education or indoctrination?
11-05-2009

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The Student
Formerly Known
As Prince
Subject: Any Community Service?

I couldn't let this one pass by. While our schools focus on making sure that the youth of our country are being properly indoctrinated in the values of "Service-Learning" to become acceptable citizens, do you think that they might be neglecting any other types of useful learning? Let's let one enterprising student answer the question for us as she searches for a solution to her community service requirement problem on Yahoo Answers:

    ANY COMMUNITY SERVICE?

    Okayyy. Well i need Community Service 4 this yrr.
    soooooooooo if theres anything tht u mightve heard tht i can do pls tell me
    by the way i live in new york so if you can, look upp community service in NY pleeeeees !!

    thanxx so muchh tew tha pple who help meee ^^

    most honestt, most options, && most info && all thtt will be chosen as bestt anwr. (:

    ~ xo


Yes, her research skills may be a little rusty, but I don't know what I'm worried about. She's the product of our fine educational system and that should guarantee that she will do just fine. And even if she can't get a job in one of the technical fields, or in the world of high finance, I'm sure she'll find her place in a fine government job. Maybe even teaching English to one of your children or grand kids!
10-15-2009

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Classroom Brainwashing
Subject: Exposing Obama's Classroom Brainwashers

In a PJTV video titled:

Joe Hicks covers much the same territory that I do on this blog, pointing out that our public schools are becoming more indoctrination centers than houses of learning.

I disagree with Joe on one point. We can stop this if a loud, vocal movement begins to speak out against the concept of state-run education and we work to completely privatize all of our schools. Quoting from the article by law professor Rodney A. Smolla that I reference in my previous blog entry below:
    "Nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires a state or local government to operate public schools. On one level, the existence of free public schools is thus a privilege that the state is presumptively free to extend or not extend to its student-citizens as it pleases."

There is nothing other than inertia stopping the citizens of this country from declaring that there should be a complete and total separation of both education and economics from the state, just as we have proclaimed a bright line separation for religion.

Unfortunately, over the past 60 years, the history of the separation of religion and state has been one of slow erosion. As the introduction of God has been pushed slowly into the secular realm of government, that movement has been responsible for opening the door for these other abuses. I would hope that it should now be clear that in order to prevent a torrent of abuses, government, as a repository of retaliatory force used to protect the constitutional rights of its citizens, must b e precluded from stepping over its rigidly defined constitutional boundaries. And this can only be accomplished when the wall between religion, education and economics remain unbreached.
10-14-2009

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Involuntary Servitude
Subject: Involuntary Servitude: The 13th Amendment Ain't What It Used To Be

Excerpts from a 1997 paper by Jessica Parr titled, Mandatory Community Service:
    Mandatory community service programs are increasingly becoming a standard part of the curriculum in many public schools across the country. For example, about 500 public school districts, including those in Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Detroit have adopted programs. A main reason for this increase in mandatory community service programs is because President Clinton has been strongly stressing the importance of volunteerism among the nation's students.   [Emphasis added]

Say it with me one more time: Mandatory service is not volunteerism!
    The court case Steirer v. Bethlehem Area School District provides a good example of the controversy involved with mandatory community service. The Bethlehem Area School District requires that every public high school student perform sixty hours of unpaid service during the student's four years of high school. The students must complete these hours after school, during weekends, or during the summer. [...] Lynn Steirer, a student, disagreed with the mandate. Therefore she did not receive her diploma. [...] Her lawyer, Scott Bullock, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, argued unsuccessfully in federal district and appeals courts that mandated volunteerism violates the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits involuntary servitude. Bullock also claimed that such service interfered with the First Amendment right to free speech because required community service forces students to express specific beliefs. [...] [L]ower courts, including a federal appeals court, dismissed Bullock's Thirteenth Amendment argument and rejected the notion that required community service is modern-day slavery. In order for the practice to be unconstitutional, the district would have to legally or physically punish students who decline to participate. Courts also rejected the Free Speech argument because the students could either choose to participate in the district's programs or design their own.   [Emphasis added]

So, apparently the court ruled that forcing a child to attend school, and then denying that child the possibility of graduating if they did not participate in mandatory service, was not a form of punishment! But if is isn't, I have some serious trouble understanding the rationale operating here.

In researching this issue further, I discovered a very interesting 1999 paper by Rodney A. Smolla, a law professor at University of Richmond, entitled: The Constitutionality of Mandatory Public School Community Service Programs. For readers wishing to get a better handle on how today's courts view these issues, I highly recommend taking a careful look at the entire article. Below I will excerpt a few of the sections that help explain the decision in the above case.
    As with all innovations in U.S. public life, such programs are inevitably challenged in the courts. At first blush, the challenges appear plausible: These programs are forced labor of sorts, an oxymoronic coerced volunteerism, the imposition of a particular philosophic vision of civic duty and community life on the whole student populace, and the cry that this just can't be constitutional is at least colorably serious.
         [...]
    Broad objections are likely to be grounded in the claim that community service is a form of involuntary servitude prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment, or a deprivation of the students' or parents' liberty protected under the substantive due process principles that have evolved from the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
         [...]
    Before examining specific constitutional challenges to community service programs, one must contend with a broad issue that sweeps across all discussion of the constitutionality of such programs. The argument is that community service programs amount to nothing more than conditions attached to the "privilege" of a free public education and thus pose no constitutional problems whatsoever. While students may be forced by compulsory education laws into some accredited school until they reach a specified age, no student is literally forced to attend public schools. Those students who can afford the cost may attend private schools instead. This argument is a variant of one of the oldest and most perplexing issues in constitutional law, that posed by the "right-privilege" distinction and its doctrinal nemesis, the "doctrine of unconstitutional conditions."

    The right-privilege distinction is an old constitutional theme. The distinction is grounded in a dichotomy between "rights" and mere "privileges." In their classic conception, rights are interests held by individuals independent of the state. [...] In contrast to rights, privileges are interests created by the grace of the state and dependent for their existence on the state's sufferance. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires a state or local government to operate public schools. On one level, the existence of free public schools is thus a privilege that the state is presumptively free to extend or not extend to its student-citizens as it pleases. [...] The right-privilege distinction in U.S. constitutional law operated on the simple premise that government is entitled to grant citizens privileges on the condition that they surrender or curtail the exercise of constitutional freedoms that they would otherwise enjoy. [...] The tough-minded — if not downright mean-spirited — logic of the right-privilege distinction has never gone down easily in U.S. constitutional thought and has always been held in check by a counter-doctrine known as the "doctrine of unconstitutional conditions." [...] the Court emphatically declared the following:
      "For at least a quarter-century, this Court has made clear that even though a person has no 'right' to a valuable governmental benefit and even though the government may deny him the benefit for any number of reasons, there are some reasons upon which the government may not rely. It may not deny a benefit to a person on a basis that infringes his constitutionally protected interests — especially, his interest in freedom of speech. For if the government could deny a benefit to a person because of his constitutionally protected speech or associations, his exercise of those freedoms would in effect be penalized and inhibited."

         [Skipping considerable information]

    If a court can be persuaded that the community service is indeed genuinely integrated with the function and mission of the schools and the concomitant benefits of public education the student is receiving, the court will be much more disposed toward approving the program. With this broad unconstitutional conditions framework in mind, analysis then turns to the specific constitutional freedoms implicated by community service proposals.
         [...]
    The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude in the wake of the Civil War: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." A student challenging a community service program would not be so brazen as to characterize such programs as literally akin to the peculiar institution of African slavery that was the historical impetus for the Thirteenth Amendment. However, the student might very well argue with a degree of surface verisimilitude that coerced public service is nonetheless both servitude and involuntary, and thus barred by the broader meanings that might be ascribed to the Amendment. Indeed, there are pronouncements from the Supreme Court that appear to invite such broader understandings of the Amendment's coverage.
         [...]
    The mere claim that some percentage of one's labor or wealth has been commandeered by a state for the benefit of others will not, standing alone, be understood as constituting involuntary servitude. Much of the modern welfare state is structured around the redistribution of income and wealth. At a broad conceptual level, to the extent one's income is taken by the state through taxes for distribution to others, an involuntary servitude is being placed on one's labor. In a progressive taxation system, most citizens work some days for the government and some days for themselves. When tax dollars are redistributed, most citizens might be seen as working some days for the benefit of others. Yet this form of indirect labor transfer, and many other more direct impositions of labor for the service of others, have never been interpreted as violations of the Thirteenth Amendment and could not be interpreted as such without stretching the purpose of the Amendment wildly beyond its animating purpose and historical context. Similarly, requirements that citizens perform certain civic duties, such as jury service, have not been construed as involuntary servitude. The most gripping example is the military draft, a conscription that not only entails a complete deprivation of one's ordinary liberty, but the risk of crippling injury or death in the service of one's country. The military draft has been rhetorically attacked as a form of involuntary servitude that violates the Thirteenth Amendment, but, despite the hyperbolic utility of the argument, it has never been taken seriously by the Supreme Court. As early as the 1918 Selective Draft Law Cases, the Court stated that
      "as we are unable to conceive upon what theory the exaction by government from the citizen of the performance of his supreme and noble duty of contributing to the defense of the rights and honor of the nation as the result of a war declared by the great representative body of the people can be said to be the imposition of involuntary servitude in violation of the prohibitions of the Thirteenth Amendment, we are constrained to the conclusion that the contention to that effect is refuted by its mere statement."

    Against this general backdrop, Thirteenth Amendment challenges to school community service programs should not be deemed viable. Community service programs are simply too far removed from anything that might be persuasively labeled as a badge or incident of slavery to run afoul of the Thirteenth Amendment.

    [Emphasis added]

So, based upon this line of argument, the Thirteenth Amendment's reference to involuntary servitude is supposed to be read as exactly equivalent to the conditions of African slavery. And any form of servitude which does not rise fully to the level of such slavery is not covered by said Amendment.

Again, I suggest reading the entire document in order to get the full gist of these arguments and to see why the author argues that other types of constitutional challenges to mandatory service also fail.

I believe that a careful reader of the above excerpts will quickly see, as I do, a number of glaring holes in the arguments being presented. I do not offer these quotes in the belief that they present a cogent case for accepting the legality of mandatory service, nor do I think that they argue from a proper interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment. However, it is a fact, as the author points out, that the courts have repeatedly upheld most forms of conscription and the "taking" of citizens' labor and property for redistribution under the guise of the welfare state, as constitutional.

It certainly gives one pause to contemplate exactly where we currently stand, and what steps would be required to move from our current position towards a more rational reading and application of the text of our Constitution!

Please send me your thoughts and ideas on the subject.
10-10-2009

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Michelle Obama
Subject: How Much is Michelle Obama Worth?

As reported by Andrew Clark in Politics Daily,
    So when GWU's [George Washington University's] school paper, the GW Hatchet, reported on Sept. 14 that first lady Michelle Obama had issued a "day of service" challenge to GW students — complete 100,000 community service hours, and in return, she will be the university's 2010 commencement speaker — the news took campus by storm.

In the article you can read about the controversial give-and-take between various students and groups on the campus over this proposal. But my interest lies elsewhere.

Ms. Obama certainly seems to have a high opinion of her own worth. In exchange for a 30-40 minute speech at a university, she expects students to take 100,000 hours of their valuable time away from their studies and invest it in "community service" projects. Once again, using the federal minimum wage of $7.50/hour, this means that she is demanding a minimum of $750,000 of the students' time in exchange for less than one hour of hers!

According to Slate's The Big Money, mid-range commencement speakers can command between $30-50,000 per engagement, while big names like Rudy Giuliani are worth up to $75,000. Even the master, Bill Clinton, who, as President, figured out that he could lease out bedrooms at the White House, could get only $350,000 for giving a speech on the most popular topic of all — trashing George Bush!

Wait, I have an idea! Why doesn't Ms. Obama lead by example and practice what she preaches. Shouldn't she simply donate her time as a community service, and give the speech at GWU for free, without demanding extra-curricular work from the students? But of course not! That kind of thinking is only for suckers.
10-08-2009

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NSLP
Subject: Be It Resolved ...

Ace Parsi, the Policy Director for the National Service-Learning Partnership, issued an Important Policy Update in which he states:
    I write you because we need your help in nurturing key relationships in Congress. These relationships are very important as we promote policies that give more youth in this country meaningful opportunities to engage in service-learning.
         [...]
    It's a critical time for service-learning and it is so important to let Congress know that service-learning works and we care.

I wonder what those "key relationships in Congress" are that need to be nurtured? Could it have anything to do with taking more money from the pockets of the taxpayers and giving it to these people?

On October 7th, various Senators introduced the following resolution:
    S.CON. RES. 46: CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

    Recognizing the benefits of service-learning and expressing support for the goals of the National Learn and Serve Challenge.

    Whereas service-learning is a teaching method that enhances academic learning by integrating classroom content with relevant activities aimed at addressing identified needs in a community or school;

    Whereas service-learning has been used both in school and community-based settings as a teaching strategy to enhance learning by building on youth experiences, granting youth a voice in learning, and making instructional goals and objectives more relevant to youth;

    Whereas service-learning addresses the dropout epidemic in the United States by making education more `hands-on' and relevant, and has been especially effective in addressing the dropout epidemic with respect to disadvantaged youth;

    Whereas service-learning is proven to provide the greatest benefits to disadvantaged and at-risk youth by building self-confidence, which often translates into overall academic and personal success;

    Whereas service-learning provides not only meaningful experiences, but improves the quantity and quality of interactions between youth and potential mentors in the community;

    Whereas service-learning empowers youth as actively engaged learners, citizens, and contributors to the community;

    Whereas youth engaged in service-learning provide critical service to the community by addressing a variety of needs in towns, cities, and States, including needs such as tutoring young children, care of the elderly, community nutrition, disaster relief, environmental stewardship, financial education, and public safety;

    Whereas far-reaching and diverse research shows that service-learning enhances the academic, career, cognitive, and civic development of students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and students at institutions of higher education;

    Whereas service-learning strengthens and increases the number of partnerships among institutions of higher education, local schools, and communities, which strengthens communities and improves academic learning;

    Whereas service-learning programs allow a multitude of skilled and enthusiastic college students to serve in the communities surrounding their colleges;

    Whereas service-learning programs engage students in actively addressing and solving pressing community issues and strengthen the ability of nonprofit organizations to meet community needs;

    Whereas Learn and Serve America, a program established under subtitle B of title I of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12521 et seq.), is the only federally funded program dedicated to service-learning and engages more than 1,100,000 youth in service-learning each year;

    Whereas Learn and Serve America is a highly cost-effective program, with an average cost of approximately $25 per participant and leverage of $1 for every Federal dollar invested;

    Whereas the National Learn and Serve Challenge is an annual event that, in 2009, will take place October 5 through October 11; and

    Whereas the National Learn and Serve Challenge spotlights the value of service-learning to young people, schools, college campuses, and communities, encourages others to launch service-learning activities, and increases recognition of Learn and Serve America: Now, therefore, be it
      Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress—

        (1) recognizes the benefits of service-learning, which include—

          (A) enriching and enhancing academic outcomes for youth;

          (B) engaging youth in positive experiences in the community; and

          (C) encouraging youth to make more constructive choices with regards to their lives;

        (2) encourages schools, school districts, college campuses, community-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and faith-based organizations to provide youth with more service-learning opportunities; and

        (3) expresses support for the goals of the National Learn and Serve Challenge.

I had a few questions about this resolution, and as the primary sponsor, I wrote to my Senator, Patty Murray, asking the following:
    Dear Senator Murray:

    I am reading the text of S.CON RES. 46, and I am trying to get a better understanding of the exact nature of service-learning. There are a great many claims made in this resolution regarding social and cognitive benefits to be realized by youth from their participation in this program. Specifically, the resolution states:
      "Whereas far-reaching and diverse research shows that service-learning enhances the academic, career, cognitive, and civic development of students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and students at institutions of higher education;"

    I have scoured the NSLP website looking for just this type of research, but have not been able to locate it. As the primary sponsor of the legislation, I would greatly appreciate it if you could send me a copy of the research that you used when crafting these statements. Alternately, you could just point me to a location on the internet where I could review the research.

    The resolution also states:
      "Whereas Learn and Serve America is a highly cost-effective program, with an average cost of approximately $25 per participant and leverage of $1 for every Federal dollar invested;"

    I was confused by this passage. Could you please explain to me just how this leveraging works? What is the $25 cost/participant and what is the time unit associated with this $25 cost (per student/year, per student/event or something else?) Can you then explain why this is cost effective? In relation to what exactly?

    Finally, I must plead serious ignorance when it comes to the day-to-day workings of Congress, but I am trying to understand exactly what is the purpose of a resolution such as this? There does not seem to be any legislative component here, and I cannot determine what action or impact this resolution is supposed to produce. Could you please enlighten me.

    Thank you for your time and help in improving my understanding in this area.

    Sincerely,
    --
    C. Jeffery Small

I will report here if I receive any clarification from the Senator.
10-08-2009

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NSLP
Subject: Service-Learning

While exploring the National Service-Learning Partnership (NSLP) site, I took a look at the page describing the "service-learning" concept. Near the top of the page is the following example:
    Picking up trash by a riverbank is service.

    Studying water samples under a microscope is learning.

    When students collect and analyze water samples and the local pollution control agency uses the findings to clean up a river... that is service-learning.

When I was in school, we were given problems in practical learning that involved real-world exercises that helped us to integrate and apply our abstract knowledge to situations that we might encounter throughout life. There could certainly be a practical learning component to the exercise of examining local water to determine its content. And practical problem-solving certainly meets this aspect of the NSLP's goals:
    "Service-learning helps students master important curriculum content by supporting their making meaningful connections between what they are studying and its many applications."

But that goal could easily be met by thoughtful teachers and standard educational programs just as it was in my day. So why do we need to pump billions of additional taxpayer dollars into a complex organization like NSLP. Well, so that we might achieve their other true objective:
    "Service-learning also helps young people develop a range of service skills, from acts of kindness and caring, to community stewardship, to civic action."

Our schools are being turned into factories used to create a population equipped with "service skills" (conveniently left undefined), "community stewardship" skills (again, I could not locate a definition or discussion of what this entails), and "civic action" skills. The mind reals at what this last is supposed to mean!

Standards for conveying the facts embodied in subjects suchs as math, English, history, biology, chemistry and physics can be objectively examined and agreed upon. But what about topics such as what is and is not appropriate activity within the realm of "civic action", or what exactly are the standards one applied to concepts of "kindness" and "caring"? And where is there any discussion and analysis relating to the morality and constitutionality of enforced labor? The answers to questions such as these are clearly dependent upon a broad-based philosophy, and different people will come to different conclusion in these areas depending upon the principles that they hold.

After examining case after case where these so called service-learning program are being implemented, it soon becomes clear that the agenda is to indoctrinate the students in an implicit philosophy of altruism, replacing their budding independent and adventurous spirit with a more docile one of self-sacrifice to others. The people implementing these programs administratively, and teaching them is the classrooms, are all Ellsworth Tooheys - but of an even more sinister kind. For, while Toohey plied his craft in the realm of adults who at least had a fighting chance to think for themselves and defend against his methods, these people ambush children, as young a five or six, who have not yet had the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills through practice and life experiences, nor have most yet learned that there are adults in the world who do not deserve their trust.

If you are concerned about the rapid invasion of service-learning programs into our schools, supplanting traditional education subjects and methods, I encourage everyone to get in touch with your local school board to determine the status of these programs, and to make your opposition known.

There is only one long term solution to this and a myriad of other problems with our schools. We must get the government out of the education business once and for all. Until this is accomplished, schools will continue to be used as indoctrination centers for one bad idea after another. The abysmal state of education today is a direct result of having made it appear to be "free" to one and all. Like any other free product, education has come to hold very little value in the eyes of most students (as witnessed by their lack of initiative and commitment in pursuing their studies) and by most of their parents who are also products of this "free" system. And the resultant apathy leaves the system wide open for the type of massive abuse we are now seeing. When parents are required to pay directly for their childrens' education, they will soon begin to apply some of those critical shopping skills that they currently reserve for the purchase of a new car or major appliance. And when parents begin to evaluate how their valuable education dollars are actually being spent, children will once again begin to learn — and think.

10-06-2009

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Subject: Service is the Rent You Pay ...

From an article titled, Service Day at the Meridian School, we learn how children in Kindergarten through 5th Grade are indoctrinated into the idea that service to the community is a duty. Here are some excerpts:
    Community service has always been an essential part of life at the Meridian School, an independent K-5 in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood.
         [...]
    "Service is the rent you pay for living on earth, and it starts in elementary school," according to Ron Waldman, the Head of Meridian School. "By the time they leave 5th grade, we want our kids to feel that this is part of the fabric of who they are. It's not whether I should or shouldn't serve the community, but how. That's just what we do."
        [Emphasis added]

Yes, that's just what they do!

Where are all the parent's, protecting their children from this sort of indoctrination? These poor kids have little chance of growing up and developing an ability to think critically and independently. Which, unfortunately, is the entire point of the exercise!
10-05-2009

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Subject: Working on Political Campaigns is "Community Service" — Sort of ....

A naplesnews.com, we learn that:
    Collier County high school students who want to get community service credit for working political campaigns will be able to, with one catch. The work that they do must be non-partisan.
         [...]
    "It is not so much the site, but what you do at the site," [Diedra Landrum] said. "A student might clean up after a rally, but not endorse a candidate. They could work at voter registration."
         [...]
    But [Chris] Smith told committee members to think carefully about how much work they let a student do for a political or religious organization. If the district officials allowed a student to work for the Democrat or Republican parties, for example, they could be opening themselves up to allowing students to receive credit for working for the Nazi party.

    "You could be going down a slippery slope," he said.
         [...]
    The committee voted 4-0 to allow students to perform non-partisan work for community service hours.

Yes, it is a slippery slope, but they teetered over the edge when they first began to consider imposing mandatory service on these children. After that, it's turtles all the way down.

It is stunning to consider the level of micro-management exerted over the the nature of the mandatory service requirement, which is necessary to stop a student from engaging in political activity which (by what standard?) is apparently judged to be "offensive" and "wrong". On the other hand, it is equally amazing to consider how there is absolutely no vocal opposition raised in having these same students be forced to attend to menial labor such as "cleaning up after a rally"!

This attests to the true reason for institution mandatory service. If the idea was to create opportunities for the betterment of the student, then requiring time-wasting activity such as cleaning would not be part of the equation. But if the idea is to extract free slave labor from our youth, then this easily meets the bill.

I hope the pattern is becoming clear.
10-02-2009

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Subject: Hey Kids, I've Got A Message For You ...

From the RFK Record, No Community Immunity by Heather Marie Mendez:
    "It's time to talk about community service.

    We all know you've heard about it a million times and that you have to complete at least 200 hours to receive a diploma and graduate; well this year it's no joke.

    Prior to this year, the alumni of Robert F Kennedy Community High School took community service lightly and didn't always complete their hours; the administration was lenient and allowed students to graduate, but the buck stops here.

    Some students are disgruntled about the recent announcement.

    "If students from years before were able to graduate and didn't complete all their hours, it's not fair that the same policies do not apply to us," said Hawa Faiq, sophomore.

    On the contrary, some students seem un-phased by the new enforced policy.

    "I've always known that I had to do all 200 hours so it's not a big deal to me; community service is a good thing and it looks great on college applications," said junior Daoud Noori.

    So if you're feeling inspired, it's time to sign up for walks, participate in school activities and talk to Mrs. Henry or Mrs. Lang to make sure you get those hours done and those time sheets filled out.

    Remember, you won't get your diploma without it. So RFK, it's time to get serious; get inspired, help your community, and complete those 200 hours!"

I was particularly taken by the absolutely fantastic "teachable moment" when the clueless student, Hawa Faiq, points out that there is something unfair about selectively enforcing a policy upon him when others are given a free pass, and Ms. Mendez counters with, "On the contrary, some students seem un-phased by the new enforced policy." You simply cannot counter a syllogism like this, and must bend to its powerful logic! So much for Hawa Faiq, who is clearly not representative of the type of student RFK is designed to produce. Maybe he will have learned his lesson and not attempt to question authority in the future by applying the outmoded use of reason. Or more hopefully, as a sophomore, he might escape from RFK's clutches for the remaining two years of his high school education.

I am also pretty sure that Ms. Mendez's use of the phrase, "the buck stops here" isn't really apropos to the point she was attempting to make!

Here is the response I posted to the article at the RFK site:
    "Hey kids, I have a somewhat different message for you. The United States Constitution (did you ever study that is school?) guarantees each of us the right to our life, liberty and property. Yes, it's true! Right there in the Fifth Amendment, it states:

      "No person shall be [...] deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"

    Well, according to the Constitution, your "life" is yours, to do with as you see fit. This means that you -- and you alone -- decide the goals you wish to pursue. And your "liberty" is the freedom to act independently, based upon your own judgment. It seems to me that your parents, teachers, school administrators, politicians, and Ms. Mendez may have all forgotten this. Maybe you should remind them, and let them know that you do not delegate to them, the authority to determine the course of your life.

    And, of course, there is that other pesky amendment #13 which states:

      "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

    Kids, what do you think slavery and "involuntary servitude" mean in this context? Do you think that forcing every child to complete 200 hours of community service in order for them to pursue their education qualifies? How do you feel about this? It's one thing to allow students to truly volunteer for any activity that they find worthwhile, but to require you to perform these services -- to use force to compel those of you to participate when you would otherwise elect not to do so -- doesn't that seem to qualify as involuntary servitude and violate your individual rights? It certainly does to me.

    And on a more practical note, if you were not being forced to spend your time on these community service activities, you might instead invest those hours in an after school job. The minimum wage is currently $7.25/hour, so the time that your school forces you to work for the community amounts to a minimum of $1,450.00. Maybe you should send them a bill!

    Some people think that performing community service will make you a more well rounded person and a better citizen. Maybe, maybe not. Personally, I think that any endeavor you pursue that teaches you to use reason, develop your analytical skills, think for yourself and challenge authority, are activities of considerably more value to your personal development, and would certainly make you be the type of person that I would welcome into my community.

    Give it some thought. And if you are interested in a more in-depth analysis of this subject, check out my writings at:

    So kids, I send each of you my best for a long and successful life. And for those of you reading this who see that there is another side to this issue of mandatory service, I encourage you to stand up for your rights. They are valuable, and if you preserve them, they will serve you well.

    Regards,
    --
    C. Jeffery Small"

The comment is awaiting approval. What are the chances that they will post it?

[PostScript: Well, after sending two follow-up comments regarding the site owner's failure to publish my comments, I was shocked to see the comment finally displayed on 10-09-09, a full week after it was originally submitted. Of course, the delay means that few people will see the comment, but I guess it's better late than never!]
10-01-2009

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Subject: Half of Public Schools Require Community Service

According to the Kansas City Star, in an article titled Volunteering is a requirement at Florida high schools:
    "About half of U.S. public schools require community service, up 20 percent since 1979, according to a national study."

And as long as we're scanning the article, the author asks and answers the question:
    "What does this have to do with high school education?

    Everything.

    The three - and almost all other South Florida high school students - have to venture outside of the classroom to earn their diplomas, doing what schools call 'community service.'
    "

The article describes one student, working for the Humane Society, who:
    "changes litter boxes and puts down fresh newspaper for about 100 cats."

Well it's better than having kids learn about U.S. history or the Constitution. Wouldn't want our schools to be training any more rabble-rousers and stirring up trouble. And in the new make-work "volunteer economy", knowing how to clean a litter box is very likely to be one of the more valuable skills.
09-30-2009

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Subject: Giving is the New Taking

At the website titled New Paradigm Shift, there is a very pro-service article by Pilar Stella entitled Giving is the New Taking, which begins with the following quote by Price Pritchett:
    "Change always comes bearing gifts."

While the article itself is not particularly noteworthy, I couldn't help be marvel at the irony of the title and the quote, as they apply to the true nature of the call for mandatory service currently being enforced in our schools and proposed for all citizens. Like the Greeks bearing gifts, the service initiative is dressed up in a Trojan horse of altruistic rhetoric designed to convince people that their enslavement by the state is actually in their best interest and something for which they would "volunteer" if only they were not being forced do so so! Yes, "giving" is certainly the "new taking" — the taking of one's freedom!
09-29-2009

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Subject: Lockport Township, IL High School Moves Towards Mandatory Community Service

As reported today in The Homer Horizon:
    The Lockport Township High School District 205 Board of Education on Monday, Sept. 22, moved a step closer to adding community service as a curriculum requirement for students.

    Board members voted 5 to 2 to approve the first of two steps that would enact the policy to require community service hours of students, with a final vote on the matter scheduled to take place at the next board meeting on Monday, Oct. 19.

    Under the policy, the mandated service hours would be phased-in to all classes beginning in the fall of 2010. Seniors (Class of 2011) would be required to complete 10 hours of service, juniors 20 hours, sophomores 30 hours and freshmen 40 hours. [...]

    Michael Lewandowski and John Lukasik voted against the policy, with Lewandowski speaking out against the proposal during discussion at the Sept. 22 meeting.

    "Should we encourage our students to help the community? Yes. Should we force them to help the community? No." Lewandowski said. "Doing this voluntary is one thing but forcing them to do it is another.

    "We shouldn't force our students to do something against their will in order to graduate."

    Lewandowski worried the policy would provoke "incrementalism."

    "We've all seen how the government can creep into our lives," he said after reading to the board the 13th Amendment. "I don't want the federal, state or local government to say, 'well, the school district have approved this, so we can, too.'"

    Board member Angela Kamely responded to Lewandowski's statements.

    "We're doing this as a graduation requirement, not as a right to live," she said. "I support helping make a more well-rounded student."

And with that mere flourish, Ms. Kamely brushes away the 13th Amendment and the rights of the students. Hey, it's only their education, not their lives!

And just as a reminder: The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Oh well, it's just a technicality. What's more important is to shape a "more well-rounded student" — in Angela Kamely's image.
09-29-2009

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Subject: Community Service Infects the Montessori Schools

In the article Cultivating Agents of Change, educational consultant Sara Cotner introduces Make A Difference Day, a national day of community service, into the Montessori curriculum. As she states in her article:
    "In Montessori schools, we firmly believe that children learn by doing. [...] In addition to being excellent mathematicians, readers, writers, zoologists, geologists, etc., I also want my children to be excellent social activists. I want them to believe that they can turn their compassion into action. So what better way to teach them social action than to let them actually do it?"   [Emphasis added.]

What better way indeed! Although, I would quibble with the word teach" and replace it with "indoctrinate". Reading further in the article we see that Ms. Cotner proposes the the entire class pick a single project from all of the proposed ideas and then work as a group to implement it. This sort of social group activity is the opposite of the Montessori educational philosophy which is based upon the understanding that a child is a self-directed learner, advancing their knowledge principally during periods of intense concentration and solo activity. Furthermore, Ms. Cotner has stated clearly that the social agenda she wished to impart to the students is her personal goal, and not a normal aspect of the Montessori course materials.

It is crucial that education, at all levels, be removed from government control and influence. The educational activists like Ms. Cotner are breading a new generation of social activists, by brain washing children to treat as normal, a social ideology which they are not yet equipped to properly evaluate. This is nothing less than political indoctrination.
09-25-2009

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Subject: Can Second Graders Help the Community?

Why yes, according to teacher Hannah Motta's students, they can! Read about it at: 2HM Class Blog.

Grace seems to have captured the real spirit of the exercise:
    "Yes.Second graders can help the community.
    Second graders can give money to them for buying bricks or things they need.
    2HM can give them some books to put in their library.
    "

Just like our government, this bright young girl recognizes at a very early age that the money, bricks and books you give away do not have to be yours!

Now, what about first graders? Kindergarten anyone?
09-22-2009

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Indoctrination
Subject: It's Never Too Early To Indoctrinate

Today we look at how the idea of national service has infiltrated our schools. Soon it will be impossible to get an education anywhere without being forced to submit to a mandatory service requirement. And since education is also mandatory, the requirement for national service will have been imposed through this back door, instead of by a direct legislative act which would have faced scrutiny and vocal opposition by the public.

Let's start with a look at our friends at ACORN. Were you aware that some of your tax dollars were being given to this organization so that it could, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, create two (and possibly three) high schools with a "community service" orientation?

The first of these is the ACORN Community High School which has the goal of "Developing Tomorrow's Leaders". This is done, in part, with Social Studies programs that "teach them the critical thinking skills necessary to challenge inequity and injustice." Nothing very specific there, but it does get you thinking about just how "inequity and injustice" might be defined by ACORN? While I was unable to locate any detailed descriptions of the various academic courses being offered, there was a very complete overview of the service program and its requirements.
    "Community Service
    'Give Your Best, Be the Best' The ACORN Community Service Program (ACSP) offers ACORN students experiences that cultivate leadership skills while they contribute services to their communities. Through placement in various agencies and service providers, ACSP encourages students to apply what they learned in and out of the classroom to solve real-life problems. In the process students learn efficient work habits, teamwork and self-confidence. They also learn about democracy, budgets and the benefits of active citizenship. Further, students in ACSP acquire technical and communication skills that are essential in critical thinking for designing and implementing solutions that build proud and prosperous communities. Participation in ACSP instills an ethic of lifelong community service where students are inspired to build proud and prosperous communities.
    "

Aah yes, there it is in the last sentence — the real purpose of the program: "instills an ethic of lifelong community service". The community is the social unit of concern, with people as lifelong servants to its needs. And to prepare for this subservient position:
    "Each student must complete 50 ACSP points per year with a total of 200 ACSP points [i.e., 200 hours of service] by the end of the Senior year."

Unfortunately, babysitting will only earn you 0.5 ACSP points per hour. :-(   Probably because it take more work to acquire "communication skills" when talking to babies!

The second ACORN school let's you know where it's heading right in its title: ACORN High School for Social Justice. From their mission statement:
    "The school offers an opportunity for students to engage in a comprehensive academic program and to participate in citywide campaigns dealing with issues of social injustice which affect the Bushwick Community and the larger Brooklyn community. ACORN High School for Social Justice's mixture of academic and community involvement helps the students to become lifelong learners."

And what makes this school special? Selecting a few key bullet points:
  • We also include an additional course in Social Justice [...]

  • International Teachers Programs. We now also have a partnership with Columbia University as a site for Peace Corp Fellows to complete their teaching internships.

  • Implementation of an excellent library program that will bring community members, actors, singers, and leaders into the building to speak with students and to participate in events such as Black History Month, Hispanic History Month, Poetry Month and Women's History Month.

  • A diverse after school program, in collaboration with our Community Based Organization, Acorn, comprised of academics, sports, the arts, and community service experiences for our students.

This mixing of ACORN's political activism with education is appalling, and marks a new level of brazenness in the social indoctrination of children. That the New York City Department of Education engages in and promotes this sort of activity indicates that it is corrupt.

But this movement is not confined to ACORN and New York City. This Falls City Herald News article discusses how the Tiverton, RI high school has imposed a mandatory "Community Service-Learning" graduation requirement upon all of its students.
    "For the past 13 years, Tiverton High School has had a community service requirement for graduation. Students must complete 75 hours prior to the end of their senior year. Since the inception of the program, students have worked on a wide range of activities to complete their volunteer hours, everything from working at an animal shelter to serving as a mentor to an elementary school student." [emphasis added]

You simply have to admire the audacity of people who can use the word "volunteer" in describing an activity that is being forced upon every student. Community service coordinator Rebecca Elwell acknowledges:
    "while some students find their niche very easily, others struggle to find a suitable volunteer opportunity."

Remember, these students are not actually being asked to volunteer. They are not being persuaded to engage in actions of their own choosing, for reasons that they personally judge to be worthwhile. They are being required to perform these services in order to be allowed to progress with their lives. I wonder if it ever crosses the minds of these "educators" that one source of struggle for some of these high school students might be an internal one. Possibly the demand—the act of being forced—to participate in this, or any other type of activity, is the source of their struggle, as they attempt, as most adolescents do, to assert their independence in thought, action and spirit at this critical phase of their development. The potential psychological damage being done to certain types of individuals is enormous.

But is this phenomenon of community service limited to high school students. No! A report, once again from our friends at ACORN, tells us:
    Riverside students learn value of community service

    "Riverside School's third grade class will hold its third annual Community Service Day on Wednesday, Sept. 23. The event, which lasts from 9 to 10:30 a.m., introduces the students to people who help their community and ties in with the class civics unit.
    [...]
    Connected to this event, the students will be doing a community service project to help children at Kids in Crisis.
    "

High school may be too late. By that time, some of these kids may have already developed thoughts of their own that could interfere with our "training", allowing them to rebel against the authority of their masters, The Community or The State. But if we can get them younger, say when they are only eight or nine, then fewer will have a chance to develop that independent, anti-social streak of learning to think for themselves. We must get to them early so that we can insure that they meet the goals that Barack Obama has laid out. They must be made to understand that it is their sacred responsibility to "not let their Country down!"

It's enough to make you sick.
09-18-2009

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Subject: The Ideas of the Next Generation

In an opinion piece titled "More From Our Citizens...", and published in The Citizen, the student newspaper of the Harvard Kennedy School, Zachary Kushel writes:
    "Today, the burden of American security is borne by too few of our citizens. It is time we required more from young Americans and made mandatory a term of national service upon graduation from high school. Rather than require military service, young Americans should have the option to serve in a capacity that includes infrastructure works programs, civic education, community organizing, and other service capacities."

There's that call for mandatory service (conscription) again, and all in the name of fighting terrorism ... oh excuse me, with this administration we don't use those words any longer ... in the name of American security. And we will provide that beefed up security by spending time on such things as community organizing, no doubt being assigned to the nearest Acorn militia group in your neighborhood.

But after touting the goal of enhancing American security, the author completely ignores security matters and spends the majority of the article on his real purpose:
    "a mandatory term of service is the only way to link all young Americans, to give them a common experience."

So, in the mind of this student, it is an appropriate function of our government to bind us all together by way of a common experience. For what purpose? To "give back" and "be a better nation and a more united people". Exactly why is social unity such a desirable goal? No reason is stated, so apparently it is supposed to be obvious to all of us. And by what authority will this be done? None given and none needed. Again, it is assumed as simply obvious that the government may engage in this activity.

This is the depth of analysis we get from someone receiving a Harvard education. I hope he is getting one of those government scholarship and not paying full price!

Implicit in every call for public service is the collectivist's assumption that the group, whether it be the community, society, or the state, is of greater importance than the individual, and it is the individual's duty to serve. This is the unstated premis that must be challenged. Always attack the issue of national service at it's core, ignoring the sundry details of each proposal as mere distractions.
09-16-2009

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Subject: Mandating Community Service: The Indirect Method

In reading an article entitled 10 Ways to Get Your Child Involved in Your Community, the author, going only by the first name of Kimberly, writes:
    "If you have a child approaching college, community service is essential for them when filling out college applications. Most colleges do not only look at a student's grades, they also want to know what kind of community service a student has performed over the years. Many scholarship applications ask students to write about their community service experiences."

I have not looked into college application requirements for many years, but it wouldn't surprise me if this were true. Where once an individual's dedication to their academic performance was the principal criteria for acceptance into higher education, with the creeping socialization of our culture, other concerns like "commitment" to community may now be large determinants.

With government controlling so much of the educational infrastructure already, it gives one pause to contemplate the reason that Barack Obama has made it one of his priorities for the federal government to overhaul the college loan system, eliminating lending institutions from the picture and requiring students seeking aid to apply directly to the federal government? The ostensible reason given is that this would save money because the government would be so much more efficient at distributing the aid, rather than "giving lenders billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies". Yes, we have heard this mantra before, and remain as unconvinced here as we have been with its many other applications. Somehow, I find it hard to take seriously the idea that this administration is interested in saving money! For you old time computer hackers reading this, I would say that this governmental incantation is the equivalent of the command xyzzy. And paraphrasing the Adventure game, I would give respond #50: "GOOD TRY, BUT THAT IS AN OLD WORN-OUT MAGIC IDEA." :-)

Consider Obama's quest to regulate student loans from another perspective. Let's start by reviewing what happened, less than a year ago, to the businesses that received federal bailout money. With no contractual requirements presented to them, and only retroactively after the funds had been taken, the Obama administration began imposing draconian levels of control which included capping salaries and bonuses, forcing mergers and dissolutions on unwilling parties, invalidating contractual agreements and obligations by fiat, replacing company leadership, mandating the specific product to be produced, and so on. Clearly, Obama did not want to simply save the economy from collapse — he wanted to control it! Now, when the majority of students seeking higher education are forced to come directly to the federal government, hat in hand, to obtain their own personal bailout money student loans, why do we have any reason to think that the same tactics will not apply? Want that college degree? How's your community service record? Have you been a good little citizen and met your obligation? No? Well, I'm sorry, but no college for you!

Does this seem unlikely? A year ago, who would have thought that the president of the United States would be allowed to tell creditors of the automotive companies that their legal claims were to be invalidated and that labor unions, with no legal standing, would be given preferred status? All without benefit of court intervention. In this age we are living by the rule of man—no longer by the rule of law.

This is why even the most benign-sounding issue, such as the funding method for student loans, can have disastrous consequences if allowed to proceed unchecked. The game is afoot. Will we be alert enough, agile enough, and care enough to counter their tactics? We will win, only if enough people engage them on the intellectual battlefield, challenging the fundamental principles that lie behind their strategy.