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Necessary Service

From “Spring break for seniors: community service” in the Washington Post:

Maryland’s mandate for 75 hours of “student service learning” dates to 1992, a year after the District adopted a 100-hour community service requirement. Across the country, 35 states have policies on service learning, but only Maryland has a state graduation requirement [...] Twenty years after Maryland became the first state to require student service for a diploma, the senior scramble is a rite of spring. In Montgomery, 25 percent of seniors still had hours to turn in this week. In Prince George’s County, 36 percent were not yet done.

In Fairfax County, for example, community service is encouraged, but not required: students with a high number of volunteer hours are recognized at graduation and a number of classes also incorporate service learning. And many Maryland students go above and beyond the required hours. In Montgomery County, over 1,700 members of the class of 2012 have amassed over 260 hours each. Another student from DC has earned “triple or quadruple his obligation, having volunteered for an international service and leadership organization since 10th grade.” While many students would perhaps not engage in service without the requirement, would those who have far exceeded the necessary hours gladly performed them on their own? Or did the state requirement catalyze their commitments?

So what do you think? Should community service be encouraged or required? How can we ensure that students both experience giving back in high school and then want to continue it after graduation?

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