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Back to November Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 154 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS NOVEMBER 1998

Chicago Students Required to 'Volunteer'

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CHICAGO, IL - The Chicago school district is the latest and largest in the nation to require its students to perform community service as a requirement for graduation. While compulsory "volunteerism" has been alive and well for at least five years in America's public schools (See Education Reporter, Nov. 1993 and June 1995), Hoover Institution scholar Thomas Sowell fears that the Chicago school district could set a strong precedent.

In a Sept. 20 syndicated column, Sowell states that: "If the parents stand for this in Chicago, you can expect it to spread all across the country." He points out that there is less reason in the nation's 3rd largest city to put up with the dictates of education bureaucrats than in many other cities - the school system there is under the control of the mayor, an elected official who is accountable to the voters.

Sowell questions the wisdom of taking students out of the classroom for compulsory community service in Chicago, where "most of the children cannot read at the national average." He asserts that the community service requirement has nothing to do with community or service, but with "using children for ideological agendas and using those agendas to insinuate the welfare-state view of the world on impressionable young minds." He notes that intruding into family privacy precedes intruding into the family itself. "Most parents have no idea how much personal family information is being collected from schoolchildren and fed into computer networks."

Sowell suggests that it is not the business of the public schools to "manipulate and indoctrinate" children. "Parents who want to debate the merits or demerits of various programs using their children as guinea pigs in the schools miss the point entirely," he says. "The real question is: 'Whose children are these?' "


 
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