On Tues., April 17, more than 400 students, educators, and community partners from across the country passed a declaration to advance federal support for the civic education approach known as “service-learning”. The declaration passed with a unanimous vote during the National Service-Learning Conference held at New Foundations Charter School in northeast Philadelphia.
A rousing midday session featured appellate court judge and former first lady of Penn. Marjorie Rendell. She urged conference participants to “Embrace the unexpected call to the duties of citizenship,” referencing the historic 1969 Supreme Court decision that affirmed students’ first amendment rights in schools. That effort was led by 13-year-old Mary Tinker, who wore a black arm band to school protesting the Vietnam War.
Like 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg, these conference participants lead initiatives in their communities and schools that take on issues ranging from the opioid epidemic to the achievement gap, applying their academic skills to critical needs.
As the Declaration reads: “The needs of the Nation and the world are not only for an educated, high technology work-force, but a socially cohesive, service-oriented citizenry. Young people are necessary resources to society with inherent ideals, boundless energy, and flexibility making them important co-creators and co-workers with older adults. Therefore, we hereby affirm the need for service-learning as called for in The National and Community Service Act and respectfully call for The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service to stand boldly in support of service-learning for all ages, all communities, and places of learning.”
The declaration now moves to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCOS) in preparation for a final report to Congress and the President. The final report will detail policy proposals submitted by citizens and citizen service organizations supporting participation in military, national, and public service.Over the next year, NCOS is providing the public with an opportunity to comment on these and other policy proposals. (The final report will be submitted by March, 2020.)
To ensure politicians are hearing from champions of national service and service-learning, please consider endorsing this declaration in your response to NCOS and/or creating one of your own.
Fill out an online comment form here: https://www.inspire2serve.gov/content/share-your-thoughtsor send comments via email.