To the Editor:
Your article “Need for Proposed U.S. Public Service Academy Debated” (Jan. 16, 2008) cites two scholars opposed to starting such a school. Their words are a sad commentary on the state of education in America and the concept of change.
Here is Chris Myers Asch, an individual talking about an ideal we have lost and the remedy for restoring it: an institution designed to train people for the public service so badly needed right now.
The opponents cited in your article work for policy institutions, not public-service institutions. So we hear from Stephen J. Trachtenberg, a president emeritus and professor of public service at George Washington University, who mentions Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, saying that these institutions do the same thing the proposed academy would, and that another such school would be redundant.
The aforementioned schools certainly are good, but they are designed more as a training ground for public-policy positions than for service. I know; I have attended the Kennedy School.
The academy proposed by Mr. Asch envisions a very different school and draws attention to the real need for public service, which is not emphasized in the United States at this time.
Instead of knocking such an idea, we should embrace it, because the voice that comes from giving to others is one that has been lost. It needs to be reintroduced. There is certainly room for both enterprises.
Confluence Academy Charter School
St. Louis, Mo.
A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2008 edition of Education Week as Public-Service Academy: An Idea Worthy of Support