Random commentary on excerpts from HR 1388, “The Give Act”. Be forewarned: snarkiness ensues.
`(10) increase public and private investment in nonprofit community organizations that are effectively addressing national and local challenges and to encourage such organizations to replicate and expand successful initiatives;
*rolls eyes* Dude. You already killed this with your whole increase/decrease proposal. Seriously. And now, you want people to invest? Are you that deluded?
`(11) leverage Federal investments to increase State, local, business, and philanthropic resources to address national and local challenges;
Heh. What federal investments? You mean all the money that we’re spending that we don’t have?
`(13) expand and strengthen service-learning programs through year-round opportunities, including during the summer months, to improve the education of children and youth and to maximize the benefits of national and community service, in order to renew the ethic of civic responsibility and the spirit of community to children and youth throughout the United States;
Year-round opportunities, eh? We know Obama already thinks kids should be in government schools more, so why not year-round? It’d make things easier, wouldn’t it? Is anyone else here thinking Hitler’s Youth?
`SEC. 3. SENSE OF CONGRESS.
`It is the sense of Congress that the number of participants in the programs authorized under subtitle C, including the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), should grow to reach 250,000 participants by 2014.’.
So, out of curiosity… what exactly is “the sense of Congress”. Can someone enlighten me, please? Because on that, I am entirely ignorant. I thought they were lacking in it, sure, but…
`(9) DISADVANTAGED YOUTH- The term `disadvantaged youth’ includes those youth who are economically disadvantaged and one or more of the following:
`(A) Who are out-of-school youth, including out-of-school youth who are unemployed.
`(B) Who are in or aging out of foster care.
`(C) Who have limited English proficiency.
`(D) Who are homeless or who have run away from home.
`(E) Who are at-risk to leave school without a diploma.
`(F) Who are former juvenile offenders or at risk of delinquency.
`(G) Who are individuals with a disability.’;
Okay. Technically, in some states, home school graduates do not receive a diploma. So… does that make us disadvantaged youth? And what exactly does “out-of-school youth” mean?
(8) in paragraph (23)(B) (as so redesignated), by striking `program in which the participant is enrolled’ and inserting `organization receiving assistance under the national service laws through which the participant is enrolled in an approved national service position’;
Is it just me, or does “laws through which the participant is enrolled” leave a bad taste in the mouth? Referencing my trusty dictionary.com, we see that enroll is:
“v. tr. To enter or register in a roll, list, or record:”
So. The participant is entered or registered in a roll, list, or record by law. Disconcerting. And utterly contradictory to the term “volunteer”:
to offer (oneself or one’s services) for some undertaking or purpose.
How can you offer if they require?
(b) Allotments to States, Territories, and Indian Tribes- The Corporation, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, may make allotments to State educational agencies, Territories, and Indian tribes to pay for the Federal share of–
`(5) developing civic engagement programs that promote a better understanding of–
`(A) the principles of the Constitution, the heroes of American history (including military heroes), and the meaning of the Oath of Allegiance;
`(B) promote a better understanding of how the Nation’s government functions; and
`(C) promote a better understanding of the importance of service in the Nation’s character.
Can we put our government in those programs that highlight the principles of the Constitution? Please? Because they are either ignorant of it, or are showing flagrant disregard for it. As for how it functions… let’s not even go there, please.
`(b) Definitions- For purposes of this part, the following definitions apply:
`(1) ELIGIBLE ENTITIES- The term `eligible entity’ means a State education agency, a State Commission, a Territory, an Indian tribe, an institution of higher education, or a public or private nonprofit organization (including community-based organizations), a public or private elementary or secondary school, a local educational agency, or a consortia of such entities, where a consortia of two or more such entities may also include a for-profit organization.
`(2) YOUTH ENGAGEMENT ZONE- The term `youth engagement zone’ means the area in which a youth engagement zone program is carried out.
`(3) YOUTH ENGAGEMENT ZONE PROGRAM- The term `youth engagement zone program’ means a service learning program in which members of an eligible partnership described in paragraph (4) collaborate to provide coordinated school-based or community-based service learning opportunities, to address a specific community challenge, for an increasing percentage of out-of-school youth and secondary school students served by local educational agencies where–
`(A) not less than 90 percent of the students participate in service-learning activities as part of the program; or
`(B) service-learning is a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency.
I find it interesting that private schools are eligible. The question to be raised, though, is how much control the government agencies will require if they are handing funds to such “private” institutions. I also find it interesting that they mention requiring “service-learning” (did I miss where they actually define what ‘service-learning’ is?) as “a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency”. Mandatory, eh? Who knew.
`(c) Authorized Activities- Funds under this part may be used to–
`(8) establish or implement summer of service programs during the summer months, including the cost of recruitment, training, and placement of service-learning coordinators–
`(A) for youth who will be enrolled in any grade from grade 6 through grade 12 at the end of the summer concerned;
`(B) for community-based service-learning projects that–
`(I) meet unmet human, educational, environmental (including energy conservation and stewardship), emergency and disaster preparedness, and public service needs; and
`(II) be intensive, structured, supervised, and designed to produce identifiable improvements to the community; and
`(ii) may include the extension of academic year service-learning programs into the summer months;
`(C) under which any student who completes 100 hours of service in an approved summer of service position, as certified through a process determined by the Corporation through regulations consistent with section 138(f), shall be eligible for a summer of service educational award of not more than $500 (or, at the discretion of the Chief Executive Officer, not more than $1,000 in the case of a participant who is economically disadvantaged) from funds deposited in the National Service Trust and distributed by the Corporation as described in section 148; and
`(D) subject to the limitation that a student may not receive more than 2 summer of service educational awards from funds deposited in the National Service Trust;
Awww. “Summer of Service”. They’ve got a cute alliteration bit going on there, don’t they? Anyway – note to self: research exactly where the funds are coming from that are “deposited in the National Service Trust”. Anyone know offhand?
`(9) establish or implement youth engagement zone service learning programs in youth engagement zones for students in secondary school served by local educational agencies where a majority of such students do not participate in service learning activities carried out by eligible partnerships as defined in paragraph (4) that are designed to–
`(A) involve all students in secondary school in the local educational agency in service-learning to address a specific community challenge;
`(B) improve student engagement, including student attendance and student behavior, and student achievement, graduation rates, and college-going rates in secondary schools;
`(C) involve an increasing percentage of students in secondary school and out-of-school youth in the community in school-based or community based service-learning activities each year, with the goal of involving all students in secondary schools served by the local educational agency and involving an increasing percentage of the out-of-school youth in service learning activities; and
`(D) encourage participants to engage in service throughout their lives; and
I’d really like to know what their definition of “out-of-school youth” is. Anyway, at least they’ve got the lofty goal of “involving all students in secondary schools”, right? So, which category do those receiving a home education fall under? Are they technically out-of-school youth, or students in secondary schools? Either way, the government would like to see them involved.
Oh. Well, this is interesting. I was curious to know if there would be an Education Corps. They were generous enough to give me an answer. How thoughtful of them.
`(1) EDUCATION CORPS- An Education Corps that identifies unmet educational needs within communities through activities such as those described in subparagraph (A) and meets or exceeds the performance indicators under subparagraph (B).
`(A) ACTIVITIES- An Education Corps described in this paragraph may carry out activities such as–
`(i) tutoring, or providing other academic support to students;
`(ii) full-time classroom instruction;
`(iii) mentoring students, including adult or peer mentoring;
`(iv) linking needed integrated services and comprehensive supports with students, their families, and their public schools;
`(v) improving school climate;
`(vi) providing assistance to a school in expanding the school day by strengthening the quality of staff and expanding the academic programming offered in an expanded learning time initiative, a program of a 21st century community learning center (as defined in section 4201 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7171), or a high-quality after-school program;
`(vii) assisting schools and local educational agencies in improving and expanding high-quality service-learning programs that keep students engaged in schools by providing service-learning coordinators;
`(viii) assisting students in being prepared for college-level work;
`(ix) involving family members of students in supporting teachers and students;
`(x) conducting a pre-professional training program in which students enrolled in an institution of higher education–
`(I) receive training in specified fields, which may include classes containing service-learning, including early childhood education, elementary and secondary education and other professions such as those in health care, criminal justice, environmental stewardship and conservation or public safety;
`(II) perform service related to such training outside the classroom during the school term and during summer or other vacation periods; and
`(III) agree to provide service upon graduation to meet unmet human, educational, environmental, or public safety needs related to such training;
`(xi) A campus-based program that is designed to provide substantial service in a community during the school term and during summer or other vacation periods through the use of–
`(I) students who are attending an institution of higher education, including students participating in a work-study program assisted under part C of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C.
*sigh* Silly people. Now I have to go look up section 4201 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in order to see what in the world a “21st century learning center” is.
`(2) HEALTHY FUTURES CORPS- A Healthy Futures Corps that identifies unmet health needs within communities through activities such as those described in subparagraph (A) and meets or exceeds the performance indicators under subparagraph (B).
I suppose I’m just cynical, but to me that paragraph screams, “free abortion in every community!” It’s an “unmet health need” in their eyes, isn’t it?
`(ii) assisting individuals in obtaining access to health care for themselves or their children;
`(iii) educating economically disadvantaged individuals and individuals who are members of medically underserved populations about, and engaging individuals described in this clause in, initiatives regarding navigating the health care system and regarding disease prevention and health promotion, with a particular focus on common health conditions, chronic diseases, and conditions, for which disease prevention and health promotion measures exist and for which socioeconomic, geographic, and racial and ethnic health disparities exist;
It only serves to reinforce the cynicism. I know, I’m clamoring that the sky is falling, but we all know how things can be twisted and used to back them up.
It’s not worth copying and pasting the entire rambling section about the Clean Energy Corps into here, but I have to say that I find it ironic that there is no promotion of sustainable activities regarding our food and agriculture system within this section. It’s all about retrofitting houses with energy-saving implements, starting recycling programs, cleaning rivers, repairing infrastructure, et cetera. Have they ever stopped to consider how much energy is used for BigAg, with its guzzling equipment and wonderfully clean pesticides? You want clean energy? Try local foods. You’re paying for quality, for trusting relationship between grower and customer, a relationship you don’t see when your strawberries are shipped up from Florida or your spinach comes from California. Try living within the food system. Listening to the way they were meant to grow. Conserving food when it’s in season, so you’re not wasting fuel – fuel that can be bought at a precious price, as we all saw – to truck it in just because you want some and you want it now.
Sorry, that’s a soap box of mine. Moving right along.
Okay. “Eligible Opportunity Corps Programs”? What the–
`(1) ELIGIBLE PROGRAMS- National service programs under this subsection shall be known as `Opportunity Corps’ and may include the following types of national service programs:
(B) A professional corps program that recruits and places qualified participants in positions–
`(i) as teachers, nurses and other health care providers, police officers, early childhood development staff, engineers, or other professionals providing service to meet educational, human, environmental, or public safety needs in communities with an inadequate number of such professionals;
`(ii) that may include a salary in excess of the maximum living allowance authorized in subsection (a)(3) of section 140, as provided in subsection (c) of such section; and
`(iii) that are sponsored by public or private employers who agree to pay 100 percent of the salaries and benefits (other than any national service educational award under subtitle D) of the participants.
Okay, why is the government placing non-government employees? I love this next section. I’m far too jaded, perhaps, but to me this opens the door for monitoring the rural food system when HR 875 goes into effect:
`(D) A program that seeks to eliminate hunger in communities and rural areas through service in projects–
`(i) involving food banks, food pantries, and nonprofit organizations that provide food during emergencies;
`(ii) involving the gleaning of prepared and unprepared food that would otherwise be discarded as unusable so that the usable portion of such food may be donated to food banks, food pantries, and other nonprofit organizations;
`(iii) seeking to address the long-term causes of hunger through education and the delivery of appropriate services; or
`(iv) providing training in basic health, nutrition, and life skills necessary to alleviate hunger in communities and rural areas.
Whew. I’m not even halfway through the bloody thing. Oo, this is interesting. The National Civilian Community Corps. Has a much nicer ring to it than the SS, doesn’t it? Oh, right. Their purpose.
`SEC. 151. PURPOSE.
`It is the purpose of this subtitle to authorize the operation of, and support for, residential and other service programs that combine the best practices of civilian service with the best aspects of military service, including leadership and team building, to meet national and community needs. Such needs to be met under such programs include those related to–
`(1) natural and other disasters;
`(2) infrastructure improvement;
`(3) environmental stewardship and conservation;
`(4) energy conservation;
`(5) urban and rural development; and
`(6) other unmet needs consistent with the purpose as described in this section.’.
One last thing. Then I’m done for the night. Rus Thompson was right, Title VI of the bill is of interest. It’s all about the Congressional Commission on Civic Service. Because we need another commission, right?
SEC. 6102. FINDINGS.
Congress finds the following:
(1) The social fabric of the United States is stronger if individuals in the United States are committed to protecting and serving our Nation by utilizing national service and volunteerism to overcome our civic challenges.
(2) A more engaged civic society will strengthen the Nation by bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and experiences to work on solutions to some of our Nation’s major challenges.
(3) Despite declines in civic health in the past 30 years, national service and volunteerism among the Nation’s youth are increasing, and existing national service and volunteer programs greatly enhance opportunities for youth to engage in civic activity.
(4) In addition to the benefits received by nonprofit organizations and society as a whole, volunteering and national service provide a variety of personal benefits and satisfaction and can lead to new paths of civic engagement, responsibility, and upward mobility.
SEC. 6103. ESTABLISHMENT.
There is established in the legislative branch a commission to be known as the `Congressional Commission on Civic Service’ (in this title referred to as the `Commission’).
SEC. 6104. DUTIES.
(a) General Purpose- The purpose of the Commission is to gather and analyze information in order to make recommendations to Congress to–
(1) improve the ability of individuals in the United States to serve others and, by doing so, to enhance our Nation and the global community;
(2) train leaders in public service organizations to better utilize individuals committed to national service and volunteerism as they manage human and fiscal resources;
(3) identify and offer solutions to the barriers that make it difficult for some individuals in the United States to volunteer or perform national service; and
(4) build on the foundation of service and volunteer opportunities that are currently available.
(b) Specific Topics- In carrying out its general purpose under subsection (a), the Commission shall address and analyze the following specific topics:
(1) The level of understanding about the current Federal, State, and local volunteer programs and opportunities for service among individuals in the United States.
(2) The issues that deter volunteerism and national service, particularly among young people, and how the identified issues can be overcome.
(3) Whether there is an appropriate role for Federal, State, and local governments in overcoming the issues that deter volunteerism and national service and, if appropriate, how to expand the relationships and partnerships between different levels of government in promoting volunteerism and national service.
(4) Whether existing databases are effective in matching community needs to would-be volunteers and service providers.
(5) The effect on the Nation, on those who serve, and on the families of those who serve, if all individuals in the United States were expected to perform national service or were required to perform a certain amount of national service.
(6) Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.
(7) The need for a public service academy, a 4-year institution that offers a federally funded undergraduate education with a focus on training future public sector leaders.
(8) The means to develop awareness of national service and volunteer opportunities at a young age by creating, expanding, and promoting service options for elementary and secondary school students, through service learning or other means, and by raising awareness of existing incentives.
(9) The effectiveness of establishing a training program on college campuses to recruit and educate college students for national service.
(10) The effect on United States diplomacy and foreign policy interests of expanding service opportunities abroad, such as the Peace Corps, and the degree of need and capacity abroad for an expansion.
(11) The constraints that service providers, nonprofit organizations, and State and local agencies face in utilizing federally funded volunteer programs, and how these constraints can be overcome.
(12) Whether current Federal volunteer programs are suited to address the special skills and needs of senior volunteers, and if not, how these programs can be improved such that the Federal Government can effectively promote service among the `baby boomer’ generation.
(1) PUBLIC HEARINGS- The Commission shall conduct public hearings in various locations around the United States.
(2) REGULAR AND FREQUENT CONSULTATION- The Commission shall regularly and frequently consult with an advisory panel of Members of Congress appointed for such purpose by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the majority leader of the Senate.
“Congress finds,” eh? How exactly did they find that? And why did they feel that government had to get its grubby fingers involved? And for the record, b-6 and b-7 make me twitch. Mandatory. Mandatory!
SEC. 6107. POWERS OF COMMISSION.
(a) Hearings and Sessions- The Commission may, for the purpose of carrying out this title, hold public hearings, sit and act at times and places, take testimony, and receive evidence as the Commission considers appropriate.
I love it. “The Commission may … as the Commission considers appropriate.” In other words, the Commission gets to paraphrase the Toddler’s Creed: “If I want it, it’s mine.”
Would it be unpatriotic to say that seems to be our government’s attitude as a whole, these days? *sigh*