Congressman Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, reintroduced legislation today that would create a “U.S. Public Service Academy” modeled after the current military service academies at West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs.
“We have world class military service academies, that, each year, produce thousands of well educated and highly trained graduates to lead our nation’s armed forces,” said Moran. “But no institution exists to mold top-flight public servants. In less than ten years, 90 percent of our nation’s civil service federal executives will be over the age of 50 and many will be nearing retirement. By 2016, two million new teachers will be needed. This coming brain drain threatens the stability and functioning of our public sector and has yet to be adequately addressed.”
The “United States Public Service Academy Act” (H.R. 2102) would create an undergraduate institution designed to cultivate and groom a new generation of young leaders dedicated to public service. Modeled after the military service academies, the Public Service Academy will provide a four-year, federally-subsidized college education for more than 5,000 students a year. In return, graduates must commit to serving at least five years in the public sector. Eligible fields of service would include public education, public health, law enforcement, and government.
Now is the time to tap into American’s renewed sense of civic obligation and offer an avenue to serve others. According to the Higher Education Research Institute, approximately 70 percent of the 2007 freshman class expressed a desire to serve others. Applications to programs like Teach for America and City Year along with religious missions involving young Americans have greatly increased.
Despite a desire to serve the public, the reality is that most young people are forced to abandon this path for financial reasons. The cost of pursuing public service opportunities after graduation is often prohibitive because college tuition has increased dramatically in the past decade – 47 percent at private schools and 63 percent at public schools. As a result of these soaring tuitions, the average college graduate owes about $20,000, an increase of more than 50 percent in the past decade.
“Interest in public service is growing, but so are the costs of receiving a higher education,” added Moran. “The U.S. Public Service Academy will offer young people who want to dedicate their lives to the public good the opportunity to pursue their passion without incurring prohibitive debt.”
After graduating from the United States Public Service Academy, students must serve their country for five years in the public sector. They will be placed in federal, state, or local positions in areas of critical need. Failure to complete five years of service will result in a dishonorable discharge from the Academy, and delinquent graduates will be required to repay the Academy for the cost of their education. The Academy will also subsidize its students’ graduate education at a public institution in return for an extended service commitment. For every year of subsidized graduate education, students must add two additional years to their service commitment.
Current Co-Sponsors (33) – Blumenauer, Boucher, R. Brady, Castor, Connolly, Conyers, Cummings, DeGette, DeLauro, Higgins, Honda, Jackson (IL), Kaptur, Lewis (GA), Lynch, McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Massa, Meeks, Nadler, Norton, Pallone, Perriello, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes, Schwartz, Sestak, Sires, Slaughter, B. Thompson, Tonko and Welch.