ServeNext.org Blog

U.S. Public Service Academy

Posted by Zach Maurin on July 30, 2008

The need for more public service appears more urgent than ever. As co-founder of the U.S. Public Service Academy, Chris Myers Asch, puts it, “It is absolutely necessary that Americans understand that we cannot neglect the public sector, especially after Hurricane Katrina.” And that is where the Academy comes in.

By educating, training and developing students, theAcademy hopes to raise the level of excellence and expectation of public service to a country that is in dire need of it.
    Aside from increasing people’s involvement in public service, the main goals of the Academy are to “perceive, prepare and pursue.” The reputation of the public sector is currently bruised by labels of being “bureaucratic” and “ruthless” which in turn, pushes people away from government jobs. With the curriculum and training of the Academy, students will be prepared to change the reputation and reality of public service as the country knows it. 
    How exactly can this be done? Like the military academy, the U.S. Public Service Academy plans on focusing mostly on leadership development in their students. The curriculum is described as “rigorous” on their website, and Asch reiterates this by explaining what the course load may actually look like. “Of course part of it will be academic but there is also a requirement to study abroad and learn a foreign language.” 
    Moreover, by adopting the “civilian leadership model” of the military academy, students will immediately be part of a team and they will gain developmental and leadership skills that will allow them to train others by the time they graduate.”
    Because of the rigorous curriculum, the application process will also be no joking matter. “I imagine that it will be very competitive, says Asch. “Applicants must first receive a congressional nomination. Then, there will be a strict admissions process like other colleges.” 
    Since the education will be free for students (80% will be funded by the government and the other 20% will be privately funded), it is highly anticipated that many students will apply. “Yes, you get a free education and graduate debt-free. But you also have to dedicate 5 years to one of the six areas of service” and that takes a certain individual. 
    With such detail and organization already put in place for the Academy, it’s hard to imagine that this was once a mere idea of Asch’s. But what’s easy to see is the enormous support and encouragement received from all areas of the spectrum. 
    “Along with support and endorsements of 20 senators and 115 representatives of Congress, service programs have helped publicize and strategize, like Teach for America and AmeriCorps. We’ve also gained enormous support from the military academy as they recognize that this is an absolute medium, tapping into a different pool of students.”
    Despite all the encouragement, only time will tell. In a couple of months, the congressional elections will take place, determining the future for the Academy and the public sector. Meanwhile, perhaps the best hint of the Academy’s future is indicated on their website: They are going to make it happen.

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