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Could national service help bridge class divide?

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Recover efforts in Joplin
AmeriCorps volunteer Teri Jacobs picks up wood and debris from the remains of a home on June 18, 2011, in Joplin, Missouri. More than 28,000 volunteers have made their way to Joplin to help clear debris in the weeks following an EF5 tornado that leveled parts of the city.
Julie Denesha/Getty Images

One of the last bills sponsored by the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) was the bi-partisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act which expanded the number of national service jobs. Three years later, commentators note that common connections, understanding and stories decrease as the class divide continues to grow. 

David Brooks wrote about "The Great Divorce" in the New York Times:

The real social gap is between the top 20 percent and the lower 30 percent. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1 percent narrative because it excuses them from the central role they themselves are playing in driving inequality and unfairness...

We need a National Service Program. We need a program that would force members of the upper tribe and the lower tribe to live together, if only for a few years. We need a program in which people from both tribes work together to spread out the values, practices and institutions that lead to achievement."

Can service unite a country and create solutions by bringing people of all classes and backgrounds together? Ken Harbaugh, Service Nation executive director, and City Year Co-Founder Michael Brown will join The Daily Circuit to discuss national service.


People who've done national service rave about it, but there's a mixed feeling about making it mandatory.