School to Parents: Volunteer or Else! is the title of a post on one of the New York Times’ blogs. It’s about a school district in San Jose that is planning to require 30 volunteer hours a year from each of their 13,000 students (88% of which are poor, according the the article).
Now, that’s going to work out well….
Why not make something mandatory — which is not going to be enforceable anyway (are they going to punish the child if a parent doesn’t participate?) — instead of putting energy into building trusting and reciprocal relationships with parents; learning their concerns, visions for themselves, and visions for their children; helping families find the energy and capacity within themselves to want to act; and then working together to do something?
Why do people who should know better think of these things?
To paraphrase the late famed community organizer Fred Ross, Sr., “Using shortcuts will take you to detours which will lead to dead-ends.”