Radical volunteerism, or not
From the NY Times:
Teach for America, a corps of recent college graduates who sign up to teach in some of the nation’s most troubled schools, has become a campus phenomenon, drawing huge numbers of applicants willing to commit two years of their lives.
But a new study has found that their dedication to improving society at large does not necessarily extend beyond their Teach for America service.
In areas like voting, charitable giving and civic engagement, graduates of the program lag behind those who were accepted but declined and those who dropped out before completing their two years, according to Doug McAdam, a sociologist at Stanford University, who conducted the study with a colleague, Cynthia Brandt.
The reasons for the lower rates of civic involvement, Professor McAdam said, include not only exhaustion and burnout, but also disillusionment with Teach for America’s approach to the issue of educational inequity, among other factors.
Third paragraph, “those who were accepted but declined”: that’s me.
Also, as someone who promotes the “service makes you a better citizen”-line, I am really intrigued to read this:
Professor McAdam’s findings that nearly all of Freedom Summer’s participants were still engaged in progressive activism when he tracked them down 20 years later have contributed to the widely held notion that civic advocacy and service among the young make for better citizens.
“Back in the ’60s, if you signed up for Freedom Summer, it was perceived to be countercultural,” said Professor Reich, who taught sixth grade in Houston as a member of the Teach for America corps. “But unlike doing Freedom Summer, joining Teach for America is part of climbing up the elite ladder — it’s part of joining the system, the meritocracy.”