An American Girl in Washington

They’re getting rid of Americorps??

Posted in Politics- as I see it by AGinDC on 7 March 2011

Honestly, sometimes I wonder how certain members of Congress sleep at night.  I understand that you may not agree on tax cuts for the wealthy (okay, no, I don’t get that either but I’m willing to chalk it up to greed and let it go); why you might think that global warming doesn’t exist (because you don’t own a dvd player/dvr/netflix/eyes); and even why you might think that gay people are not actually human and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to marry (nope, drawing a blank there too).  But Americorps?? Come on!

Apparently, the House of Reps voted to eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service in a February 19 vote for the idiotic budget cuts the Tea Party actually thinks will pass and/or get their mobile homes out of hock.  Cutting the Corporation would mean cutting Americorps.  AMERICORPS.  Somehow, somewhere, someone thought it was a good idea to cut the funding of the national arm for community service as a way to save money.  Because, you know, asking the nation’s billionaires (many of whom are actually for tax cuts for the wealthy) to throw in a few extra pennies is a bit too much to ask, but telling the nation’s high schoolers, college graduates and fans of Jimmy Carter that they can’t serve their country anymore, well, apparently that’s what this country is all about.

I was a 2005 Teach For America corps member.  TFA, by the way, is an Americorps program.  We’re one of the lucky ones, because if Americorps funding is eliminated we have enough private funding that we would still be able to operate, albeit at a much, much less effective level than we are now.  Except, of course, the Reps separately eliminated even more funding from TFA, thus further eliminating our effectiveness (Obama did that in his budget too, which is why I’m not speaking to him right now either).  I don’t know what else I am going to do with my life but teaching at my tiny school in South Louisiana for two long (looooong) years will always stand out as one of the most challenging, most educational and proudest experiences of my life.

TFA takes high-achieving, ambitious, dedicated and passionate recent college graduates and sends them off into the wilderness of America’s toughest schools to teach for two years.  In those two years, not only do we consistently achieve extraordinary success in the classroom (I took my first graders from an average of kindergarten or below levels in math and reading to third grade levels both years) but we are taking the skills and lessons that we learned outside of the classroom and beyond our experience to effect change in the American education system from the ground up.  That’s why TFA alums are starting the best charter schools in the country, are getting elected to city councils and school boards, are starring in tear-jerker educational documentaries, are Michelle Rhee (love her or hate her, you have to admit she had a major impact on DC schools).  That’s why TFA alums are also involved in politics, law, medicine, higher education, and countless other fields where they can take what they learned from their two years on the ground to changing everything from the lack of nutrition that our children are getting at home and in schools to how we write our national education policies.

And that’s just one Americorps program.

Don’t even get me started on City Year, Habitat for Humanity, Senior Corps for God’s sake among many, many others.  All of that would be cut by this bill.

Seriously, who are these people? Who, in their right minds could say that cutting a program that builds houses for poor people (like, I don’t know, THE ONES WHO LOST THEIR HOMES IN KATRINA) is not a program worth keeping?

But they’re not the ones I’m mad at.  I’m mad at our side.  I’m mad at the ball-less Dems who haven’t made a stink about this.  How is it possible that I, a reasonably intelligent, active and news-addicted blogger, of all things, is just hearing about a February 19th vote NOW?  I know, there’s been Egypt and Tunisia and Wisconsin and the Super Bowl.  And, you know, Charlie Sheen.  Clearly that’s just been too important for anyone at all to mention that THE GOVERNMENT IS TAKING AWAY COMMUNITY SERVICE!  The House Dems should have made a stink about this.  And not just because I’m super passionate about Americorps so I think everyone should be.  This should be shouted from the rooftops because it is further proof that there are a lot of members of Congress who don’t really care about America.  Their goal is not to further our nation, to better us and raise us to our higher selves.  If it was, they would be doubling the funding for the nation’s largest promoter of community service.  Especially at a time like this.  When we are struggling as a nation, our economy is hurting and jobs are disappearing faster than Wheaties in a locker room, more college graduates are going into public service than ever before.  Some of them are doing it because they couldn’t get other jobs, some are doing it because they think it would help them get a jump on grad school, and many others are working in public service because they see that now, more than ever is a time when we should all be reaching out and making a difference.  Regardless of the reasons behind their service, we should be celebrating the choices of millions of American youth- and Americans of every age- to make a difference in their country, not cutting them out.

I cannot get over the insanity of someone in this country, that our Congress voting to eliminate The Corporation.  Especially when those same people consistently vote to keep the corporations that are harming our nation running strong and tax-free.

This is the oath that every Americorps volunteer has to take before serving.  It’s the most selfless, compassionate, and American oath I’ve ever heard.  It encompasses everything we ever learned that we were supposed to strive for when we were children.  And this is what Congress is trying to eliminate from our country.  There’s something wrong with this picture.

I will get things done for America – to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.
I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy, I will take action.
Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity, I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.





3 Responses

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  1. Lettie Moodie said, on 15 March 2011 at 1:27 am

    i love your blog.

  2. […] not to like. For instance, the Corporation for National and Community Service. I have already ranted about the idiocy of trying to get rid of Americorps so I won’t bore you with it here. Besides, I assume that the 5 of you reading this blog are […]

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