Saturday, June 23, 2007

Alter on Dodd on National Service

Internet, is still out (probably until at least Sunday/Monday), but got a few moments at the library.

This piece by Jonathan Alter in Newsweek on Chris Dodd calling for a newly revamped national service programs.

It’s Chris Dodd who is taking the service debate to the next level. On Saturday, Dodd will unveil a specific and strikingly ambitious national and international service agenda in a speech on the same spot in Nashua, N.H., where John F. Kennedy began his presidential campaign in 1960. Dodd remains in the second tier of Democratic candidates. But even if he falls short, his national-service idea could catch on. Consider that Kennedy’s Peace Corps originated with Hubert Humphrey, one of the men he beat in the 1960 primaries.
Some of the proposals sound very good to me---others not so hot. In the latter category making the Americorps board a cabinet level position. On the former side, expanding the teaching project massively by much larger college tuition grants. That kind of youth, energy, and idealism is needed in the pathetic state of public schooling.

Alter thinks (and is probably right) the most controversial plank will be mandatory high school community service or schools lose funding from the feds. Libertarian push back for sure. Definite questions about federalism over states rights. Although Republicans like Reagan pushed through similar legislation for Federal Transportation Monies to the States as a way to backdoor a higher minimum age for drinking.

But that one aside, I think the addition of Peace Corps and the re-kindling of a conversation around what American patriotism means post 9/11 is one that needs to be had. Instead of Bush telling everyone to go shopping after 9/11 and leave the brunt of everything on the military.

Department of Reconstruction is calling.


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