Young People and Community Service

02.09.10 | Dr. Stephen Coleman | Comments[0]

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Community service is a great American tradition that goes back to the very beginnings of our great republic. In fact, it is a great tradition that is uniquely american -- something that the Frenchman Alexis De Tocqueville recognized when he visited America in the early 1830s and noted in the first volume of Democracy in America, which was published in 1835.

Given the special place that community service has in American history and culture, I think that it is important to get young people -- like middle and high school students -- involved in community service. Hopefully, this will establish a habit of "giving back" to those in need.

On the other hand, community service in the schools should not ever be used as a bargaining chip with students. Recently WETM-TV, the NBC affiliate in Elmira, New York -- reported that students taking a ninth grade class in the Campbell-Savona School District are exempt from a five hour community service requirement if their academic average in the class is 95 or higher.

I think that this arrangement cheapens and degrades community service, makes it a reward to avoid this important work, and sends the wrong message to the kids. If community service is part of a class requirement, then all students in the class should be required to fulfill the requirement with no exceptions...


I urge that community service be a mandated part of every public school curriculum in the Empire and Keystone States, and it should never be used -- for whatever the reason -- as a bargaining chip with students.

cc-wetm - tv- Dr. Coleman also airs commentaries and a public affairs program on WETM 18 Elmira. For more information on these programs, go to


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