I rarely write or comment on news stories, but news this morning that Americorps might be on the chopping block demands something more.
Anyone who has sent kids to college knows that it is expensive, that kids often come out saddled with debt, and that the job market they enter is uncertain at best. What help is there, to get kids over the hump from "student" to "adult"? Americorps is one small way.
Americorps teaches kids job skills. It teaches them how to work with others. It gives them a paycheck and forms a vital bridge from "student" to "adult." The service work they do is important for the nation, and makes them better citizens. And it helps (in a small way) to pay down college debt. All three of my children have done Americorps stints and have benefited greatly from it.
One son participated in City Year and worked in an inner city middle school in Philadelphia. At age 18, he was living independently in a major city, commuting daily across town, and managing his own money.
My daughter worked as a Vista volunteer as a IT support person in a community college in Austin, Texas -- and was hired after her service was over.
My other son spent half a year in the Maine woods, building and repairing trails. He learned to be independent and self reliant.
Their lives, and the lives of thousands of other Americorps members, prove that Americorps invests in our young people in the best possible way. It is exactly the sort of thing a competent government is supposed to do.
Americorps deserves to be saved. I encourage everyone to contact their representatives in Congress and urge them to vote to preserve this program.