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.