Obama & Giving Something Back To The U.S.
The concept of national service is for me a no-brainer because it is a great way to give something back to the U.S. and even our erstwhile friends overseas while receiving valuable training and experience in return. I suppose the very fact that it makes such sense is why we haven’t heard much about it during a presidency that has made as its centerpiece a war that has bankrupted the national treasury and for which it has asked no one to sacrifice.
The first and subsequent times I heard Barack Obama on the stump this year he spoke at length about national service being a centerpiece of his presidency, and while he remains short on specifics, there is much to like in his plan, which he will roll out in a speech later today:
* Encourage national service to address the great challenges of our time, including combating climate change, extending health care, improving our schools and strengthening America overseas.
* Expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 slots and double the size of the Peace Corps.
* Integrate service learning into schools and universities to enable students to graduate college with as many as 17 weeks of service experience under their belts.
* Provide new service opportunities for working Americans and retirees.
* Expand service initiatives that engage disadvantaged young people and advance their education.
* Expand the capacity of nonprofit organizations to innovate and expand successful programs.
* Enable more Americans to serve in the armed forces.
The devil, as they say, is in the details, but Obama at least has some real-world experience as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side and stint heading Project Vote, which his campaign says helped register 150,000 new African American voters in Chicago.