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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008 | The story on senior exhibitions made it sound like my mom, Sally, is against volunteering. The attacks against her are going to start. My mom taught me not to be an ignoramus and know the facts before forming an opinion. Here are facts for readers.
The legislative history of the community service law reveals that several committees studied a proposed law to make volunteering mandatory for high school students. The final approved version states “highly encouraged.” So in California, volunteering is still voluntary – in keeping with what I learned about the Constitution. Legislators never intended volunteering to be a non-graded assignment but for credit that counts toward graduation.
Governor Pete Wilson questioned forced volunteering as “a grand effort to compel its students to do what they are volunteering to do — based on speculation that they may, for some reason,stop.”
I completed 1,000 hours by 11th grade. Yet, I was told I would not graduate if I did not volunteer 25 hours in my senior year. When I questioned the administration, I was told to do it or I would not walk in commencement. I didn’t participate in commencement because I did not respect administrators with closed minds that told us to act like adults but treated us like children. I did the senior exhibition. It was never graded – all that work and I never received a recorded grade. Students were being accepted into college and yet, administrators were haranguing seniors about the senior exhibition to prove we had were prepared to graduate. The colleges were convinced.
I didn’t understand why schools had different requirements for graduation when it is the Board of Education authorized to decide standards. I saw students struggling to pass their classes. I had friends working to help support their families, unlike me, working to earn money for college tuition. There is more to this issue than just “make well-rounded citizens” of students by denying a diploma if they cannot volunteer. We spent 13 years working to earn a diploma. We are not there to make the adults feel good by putting us on display which is how it felt having to produce a project that is not properly or equitably implemented.