President Bush's signing of the National Community Service Act is welcome indeed. Mr. Bush walked into the White House calling for "a thousand points of light" in volunteer service, but his administration follows one that cut the funding of government agencies coordinating such efforts.
National service for young people has been debated extensively for the past two decades. Although it is considered a good idea in the abstract, questions have arisen. Would it amount to a draft for peacetime service only for disadvantaged students who cannot afford tuition fees? Should community service be rewarded with forgiveness of student loans, an idea dropped from the measure? Despite Mr. Bush's dislike of the financial incentives which remain, it is a good law nonetheless.
Key provisions establish a Commission on National and Community Service to coordinate activities, give grants to states for planning and building community service programs in the schools and in the nation's colleges, establish an American Conservation and Youth Corps and provide full- and part-time service corps for young people already in the labor market. Assistance is provided for the Peace Corps, VISTA and Head Start as well.