July 17, 2008
Service-Learning in the Hizouse (of Representatives)
Ross Wilson of Campfire and I have been all over the hill the last two weeks making the case for an expanded commitment to service-learning. On the Senate side we've met with staffers for Senators Harkin (D-IA), Murkowski (R-AK), Alexander (R-TN), Murray (D-WA), Kennedy (D-MA), Specter (R-PA), and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). On the House side we've met with Congressmen Scott (D-VA), Platts (R-PA), Obey (D-WI), Ehlers (R-MI), Hare (D-IL), and Congresswoman McCarthy (D-NY). We also met with the Republican staff for the Education and Labor Committee. Considering that these make up the majority of our tier 1 targets in regards to support and influence, I feel very good about where we're at. Overall, we received a lot of positive feedback and a willingness to work with us on future efforts to expand Learn and Serve America and provide more youth with service-learning opportunities. We made the case that the program started out really as a pilot in the 90s with the intention that it would expand and since then has seen significant cuts. We talked about the cost effectiveness of the program which only costs the government $25 per youth served and all the benefits that accrued from that. Finally, to each member we made a really effective individual case building on past issues they'd supported and how service-learning might fit into addressing those agendas. Along those lines the case for dropout prevention and meeting the academic needs of at-risk youth were huge. Other issues included teen pregnancy, special education, volunteerism, and several others. The next step is now to just continue with this push with other members and deepen the commitment of members we've met with in regards to their support for service-learning. We are starting to build momentum so whether your Representative or Senator is friendly or unfriendly to service-learning be in touch and help us make the effective case to them. We're moving forward, but we got a long way to go and we need your help to get there.