Killing AmeriCorps Softly

Its kind of getting old. Every year or two for the last six years, people who support the US’s national service programs hear the rallying cry that AmeriCorps is getting axed. This year’s announcement came to my email via the National Youth Leadership Council:

1. Contact your legislator in the House of Representatives and urge him or her to sign the letter being circulated by the National Service Congressional Caucus. The letter urges Congress to reject the funding cuts for AmeriCorps, Learn & Serve America, and NCCC that were included in the Administration’s fiscal year 2007 budget. Deadline for signatures: Wednesday, March 15. If your representative agrees to sign on, his or her congressional staff must contact Catherine Liao (Catherine.Liao@mail.house.gov) with Rep. David Price or Sarah Moore (Sarah.Moore@mail.house.gov) with Rep. Christopher Shays.

The same thing comes every year, and every year The Freechild Project signs on its organizational support, and I sign on my personal support. But I’ve got to ask “Why?”

WHY the constant battle calls? Why the legislators with short memories who don’t remember the tons of letters they got from students insisting they save Learn and Serve? Why the funding committees in the House that don’t remember that just last year their local constituents shouted loudly about saving AmeriCorps? Why the policy wonks who don’t remember the senior center protest in support of Senior Corps? (Oh, wait, they do: Senior Corps is the only program that will maintain its funding.)

And they’re killing the NCCC dead. Have no powerful people graduated from NCCC in the last twelve years? Does no one honestly see the benefit of having esprit de corps alive and well in the US today? Will nobody speak out on behalf of the national service program most like JFK’s vision?

I am signing on with my support again this year, and I encourage you to, also. But we’ve gotta keep our pens warm, cause we’ll probably have to do it again next year.

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