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Should High School Students Be Required to Perform Community Service?

Peabody Veterans Memorial High School may have the requirement in the fall.

Photo credit: Patch file photo.
Photo credit: Patch file photo.

Community service has become a regular requirement for many high schools in Eastern Massachusetts.

For some schools, the requirement stretches back two decades. Some states even have a community service requirement for high schoolers. 

Peabody Veterans Memorial High School doesn’t have a community service requirement in order to graduate, but that may change soon.

The Salem News reported that Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who is also chairman of the School Committee, is a strong proponent of the requirement as are other local officials.

“It’s something I strongly believe in for our students ... helping those in a less-fortunate position,” Bettencourt said, according to the Salem News. “I don’t want to put onerous conditions on anyone. ... Lots of students have to work or have extracurricular activities. I just want our students to understand a little better what’s going on in the world.”

Not everyone in the education community supports the idea. One 2013 study found requiring community service may “dilute the signal value of volunteering” and lead to “a potential loss in long-term volunteering,” reported Education Week.

"If this is for school, how do we know [students] are considering this as community service, rather than just homework for school?" the study's author, Sara E. Helms, an assistant professor of economics at Samford University in Birmingham, AL, told Education Week. "One of the interpretations that is more convincing is, maybe we are substituting this [requirement] for being self-motivated. Does it dilute the signal value of volunteering?" 

The School Committee plans to discuss the issue on Tuesday night and the Salem News said the mayor wants a policy in place for the fall.

Read the full Salem News article here.

Jennifer Day Morgan March 31, 2014 at 04:07 AM
If you truly live in Peabody Mark, then it's your public school system too. I love OUR city. Perhaps you should consider moving to a place you don't have to deal with our multi-class, multi-cultural, liberal-leaning citizens.
Rick Heil April 21, 2014 at 08:39 PM
Forced charity is an oxymoron and causes a sense of resentment among those involuntarily drafted and a sense of entitlement among those undeservedly benefited. End mandatory community service, it is an injustice to the students.
Saber Walsh April 23, 2014 at 10:02 AM
Volunteerism is good, but when you don't have a choice you are being, as said in the military, "voluntold" which is resentable. This is a really altruistic, noble viewpoint, but the flaw is this: when you now have students playing the "Guess the Gang Color!" game in the halls of Peabody High, particularly after we had a major brain fart and decided to open the doors to school choice, do you really have a problem with kids not being active in their communities? Let families instill this sense in their children and let's stop asking our government and school departments to raise our children.
Johnny D April 23, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Been a while since Saber has spewed her ill-informed nonsense. She knows absolutely NOTHING about what goes on at Peabody High. If she did she would know that some wonderful things are happening there..."gang colors," really????...you sound like an ignorant 90 year old woman that is afraid to leave her house because she is too scared to accept (or understand) the diversity that makes this city wonderful. Get off the computer and head on up there, Ms. Walsh...you may be pleasantly surprised!
mark April 25, 2014 at 01:42 PM
Diversity in Peabody= whites fleeing to Danvers, Middleton, North Andover and Lynnfield! Everywhere diversity exists, crime, poverty and big government seem to follow! If I wanted to live with people speaking funny, I'd move to Mexico or South America!

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