”The country made a mistake after 9/11. Instead of telling Americans to take a trip or go shopping, I think we had an opportunity to call Americans to serve.”
Coinciding with the election of Barack Obama to be president of the United States is a phenomenon whose time has come.
The United States Public Service Academy now has 19 co-sponsors in the United States Senate, a mixed group that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), among others. In the House, there are 96 co-sponsors. They have the support of varied state agencies (the New Mexico House of Representatives and the New Jersey Senate), numerous national organizations (the Florida League of Cities, Virginia State Police Association and National Urban League are examples), a broad collection of politicians (mayors, state senators and representatives, former governors, college presidents, military leaders, educators and philanthropists).
What’s this all about? The United States Public Service Academy will be an undergraduate institution, modeled on West Point and the Naval Academy, but focused on developing civilian leaders committed to public service. About 5,000 students a year will matriculate in four years’ time, and for their free education, commit to serve for five years. They will work in all sectors, public and private, in all fields of public service. The idea of nationalizing and professionalizing public service has been tried sparingly with the Peace Corps and National Service Corps; the Public Service Academy would create a permanent source of trained service workers. The idea was commended by the Obama campaign. It is of special interest to the generation of Millennials who are coming of age in huge numbers.
A public service academy also would be symbolic of the national support for the concept of public service. We have valuable institutions of national defense in our present military academies. The Public Service Academy will provide a culture of professionals to assist in assuring domestic tranquility and a more perfect union.