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Letter to the Editor: Jobs for Teenagers

Resource type: News

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To the Editor:

A Dec. 8 editorial argues for inclusion of adolescents in the new administration’s public works projects. This is a good idea and would be much better if it is designed to include the development of civic responsibility and academic skills.

Indeed, starting with William James in 1906, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Barack Obama and John McCain in the recent campaign, the idea of a national service has a proud history.

Today, few teenagers have opportunities to take actions that benefit others. Participation in activities that improve their communities builds civic responsibility and is an essential part of growing up in a democracy.

Academic skills, too, are advanced by providing opportunities to assess local needs, make decisions about what to do and write about their experiences. Projects like these have been successfully carried out for decades, the Youth Corps and Youthbuild being examples.

So, jobs, yes, but certainly fixing park benches and raking leaves are not enough: jobs plus civic responsibility and education!

Peter Kleinbard
Executive Director
Youth Development Institute
New York, Dec. 9, 2008

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