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Know Your Rights
Source: Gotham Schools
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Most Schools Already Meeting the Mayor’s Call to Service

City principals will have to submit plans in October
explaining how they’ll meet the Mayor Bloomberg’s new service requirement for
schools, but it shouldn’t be an onerous task for most of them.  

Most schools, particularly at the
high school level, already engage in some service, according to Department of
Education spokeswoman Kerri Lyon. At Manhattan
Bridges High
in Midtown, for example, students have always
been required to log 40 hours of service before they graduate, Principal Mirza
Sanchez Medina told me yesterday. Other schools announced service initiatives
this week that were planned before Bloomberg’s announcement: Students from the
Academy of Urban Planning and the Bushwick
School for Social Justice
planted 16 trees in between their campuses in
honor of Earth Day, and kids at Harlem’s PS 57 pitched ideas for
community-improvement grants to Scholastic’s Be Big Fund.  

For the many schools that already engage in service, the
mayor’s initiative should expand the number of volunteer options available to
students, Lyon said. And schools that have
never participated in service before can start slowly, such as by joining Penny
Harvest, the popular program where kids donate pennies to charities of their
choice, she said.  

The DOE will be working with all schools to “help them
figure out what works best for them,” Lyon
said. AmeriCorps volunteers, provided through the nonprofit organization
Children for Children, will also help to incorporate and expand volunteerism in

Principals union president Ernest Logan said the new
requirement to incorporate volunteerism is not likely to be burdensome for
principals. “We have every faith that, while our principals are challenged by
an extraordinary number of demands, they will embrace the possibility of
enhancing the community service programs they have already established over the
years,” he said in a statement.