Our “What’s Next” adviser Cindy brings an educational initiative she’s passionate about to our attention … read it, be part of it, and/or send a comment as to why you may or may not want to get behind it …
“There is West Point for soldiers, and Annapolis for sailors, but no parallel place of grit and glory for that maligned tribe of government workers known as bureaucrats.”*
A U.S. PUBLIC SERVICE ACADEMY?
As I watched the celebration in Grant Park on Election night, I was particularly taken by many of the first time voters — our kids.
Inspired. Hopeful. Committed to change. Their energy is contagious and got me to thinking about what institutions and paths are available for them to apply it. My 22 year old son offered one very credible solution – The US Public Service Academy, which seems to be causing quite a buzz these days.
Now I’m delighted to introduce you to what I’ve found to be an important and creative public services initiative — one that needs your support to assure its place on Obama’s national agenda. Here’s what the Academy is about:
The U.S .Public Service Academy gives exceptional undergraduates a four-year, tuition-free, liberal arts education focused on service and leadership in exchange for a five-year commitment to public service after graduation. Modeled on military academies like West Point, this Academy taps into young Americans’ strong ethic of public service. It develops civilian leaders who give back by working in education, health care, law enforcement, emergency management and other critical local, state and national service fields where critical needs exist.
The Academy is the brainchild of two former Teach For America corps members, Chris Myers Asch and Shawn Raymond, who share a vision. They want to create a generation who is idealistic about government and committed to serving. The Academy is their concept for a federally-funded institution that can systematically promote this new leadership at a critical inflection point in our country’s history.
Even before Obama and McCain made public service a key part of their election platforms, the Academy had advanced beyond the idea phase. The US Public Service Academy Act was introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1671) and Senate (S. 960) in 2007. Its leading sponsors are Senators Hillary Clinton (D- NY) and Arlen Spector (R-PA) and Representatives James Moran (D-VA) and Christopher Shays (R -CT). To date, bipartisan support for the bills includes 23 Senators and 123 Representatives. Along with Senator Clinton, Academy champions Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel are now in positions of key influence in the new administration.
I spoke with Academy co-founder Chris Myers Asch. He’s articulate about the need for new civic leadership in this country; convincing regarding the benefits of the military academy model to achieve this goal; and cautiously optimistic that the formidable grass roots foundation which he and his partners have worked so hard to lay may now get serious consideration in Obama’s first 100 days.
Over the next 60 days, co-sponsorship for the public bill is the highest priority. Here are some concrete ways you can bring your influence to bear:
“Bird-dog” members of Congress – write letters and emails, make phone calls, visit offices (and get your friends to do so as well). Some of the people with whom you are in touch may have personal connections to particular members; those connections are invaluable. To find who your senator and or congress person is and how to contact them click here.
Get endorsements – for high-profile people, we’re seeking letters of support that we can present to members of Congress. You can send this letter that students are using, just click here.
Get media attention – write blog posts (as I am), letters to the editor, and op-eds to help us spread the word.
Donations — Funding is always a necessity, so click here to give a donation.
If you want to be part of changing how America approaches public service, consider getting involved. Contact me (email@example.com) or Chris Myers Asch (firstname.lastname@example.org) ,and we’ll be delighted to walk you through ways to participate or answer questions you might have.
To learn more, visit www.uspublicserviceacademy.org where you’ll also find an impressive and diverse list of endorsements and advisors, as well as a proposed building site.
In my last post “Breathing Deeper”, I wrote about my intent to be part of the change our country needs and wants. Supporting the Academy is my first example of walking the walk. The next 60 days are critical. Join me!Â Give the Public Service Academy a place on the national public service agenda in 2009!
Happy New Year everyone,
* The New York Times, “A Plan to Turn the Lowly Bureaucrat Into a Cherished Public Servant” by Jason DeParle, published January 6, 2009