Atlanta Forward readers responded on our blog to Michelle Nunn’s column calling for the HOPE scholarship to require a service component from students. Here is a sampling of comments under their chosen screen names.
A reader: What this article fails to take into account is that many students already perform community service. Many school clubs require a certain number of hours of community service from members. Many students participate in community service through their church. Other students perform community service as part of their Scout program or other programs. Therefore, I believe the additional benefit of $150 million is an overestimate. Secondly, who would be responsible for the burden of documentation? I suspect that would fall onto already over-burdened school counselors.
Peter Eberle: Thoughtful and well-done! Today's youth are less in need of more academics and more in need of improved social skills. Requiring community service promises social explorations that will surely develop some of what is lacking in so many of our students. Unfortunately, these service projects often devolve into "doing time," so I would recommend that the service requirement include a required "social" report describing the persons encountered during the service, the planned future encounters with these people, and the intended impact of maintaining a positive association with them. The grade for community service could then be based on criteria beyond "X" number of hours served, and could then be factored into HOPE eligibility.
Bernie: This is a suggestion that would be better served by politicians. If community service was made part of a politician's duty, we would certainly have better legislation being proposed and enacted upon.
Taxpayer: If HOPE were funded by tax dollars, I would be more inclined to agree with something like service to the community by the recipient in exchange for the money. As it stands, lottery players get their shot at a prize, and the state government gets to take credit for providing lottery money, and students who put forth the effort to make good grades get a reward. It's a win-win-win, so let's leave good enough alone. If you want to talk about a program that incorporates service, then perhaps it should be something new.
David Hoffman: Bad idea. The HOPE scholarship does not pay all the costs for books, supplies and fees needed to go to college or technical school. Many HOPE scholarship recipients still need support from parents or real jobs to pay the un-reimbursed costs of going to school. Who pays the transportation cost for going to these social programs? The students or their parents. Social service organizations want free labor. Children are easy targets. College students are easy targets, in the view of social service organizations, from whom to steal time and money by coming up with mandatory service requirements in order to keep scholarships.