March 24, 2009

Senate Debates Service-Learning and National Service Policy

Okay--call me a policy nerd, but I have seen almost every hour of the Senate floor debate on the Serve America Act (S. 277) since the floor debate began yesterday afternoon.

This has been the perfect combination of two of my most favorite things: service-learning and cable television. The only thing I'm missing right now is a big bucket of popcorn and a Diet Coke (smile).

You can watch live streaming coverage of the Senate on C-SPAN too...and I encourage you to do so.

Believe it or not, several of the Senators are making explicit references to service-learning during their floor comments. Most recently, Senator Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Udall (D-CO), and Sen. Akaka (D-HI) all made comments about the importance of offering service-learning opportunities for youth. Even more have talked about the importance of giving young people the chance to learn and apply the habits of active learning and citizenship at an early age. So our message is getting through!

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is doing an amazing job fighting for the bill alongside Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). In the face of criticism from Republican colleagues, Sen. Hatch's support is unwaivering and unapologetic. For each argument that has been raised in opposition of the bill, Sen. Hatch stands up and immediately fires back with specific data, examples of national service in action, and an eloquent call for his fellow Republicans to rise above partisan politics.


1. Contact your Senator. Ask her/him to vote YES on the Serve America Act (S. 277).
2. If your Senator already supports the bill, ask her/him to make comments on the Senate floor in support of the bill (and to include specific remarks about the value and importance of service-learning in your state).
3. Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. We'll post a letter to the editor template shortly.

This bill is not "a done deal." Last year, a similar bill failed in the U.S. House of Representatives by just one vote. Your voice matters. Let's make sure this does not happen in the Senate.

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