Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: June 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: June 23, 2003 - Slate: What's wrong with Americorps: Lessons for the Peace Corps : Americorps

By Edit on Friday, July 04, 2003 - 10:43 am: Edit Post

Everyone knew this program was a mess the minute it was announced.

By J.C. Dwyer on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 10:34 am: Edit Post

Your editorializing neglects several key points.

You suggest that Clinton's Americorps will "go the way of" underperforming programs like those of the Johnson administration. However, VISTA was one of these Johnson programs, and was the neglected little sister of the Peace Corps only until Clinton folded it into Americorps and instituted his state-based reforms. By all counts it has been one of the most effective domestic poverty reduction programs since.

Secondly, you perpetuate the misconception that VISTA's current finance woes are the result of last year's mismanagement. They are two separate issues, and are being dealt with in separate legislation. VISTA's hiring freeze last November was the result of a scandalous mismanagement of funds by Lenkowsky and others. These mistakes have now been rectified in the "Strengthen Americorps Program Act" (S.1276) signed by Pres. Bush last week.

The current lack of funds besetting Americorps--and forcing many non-profits to dramatically cut back services--is the result of the 2003 budget backed by the Bush administration and passed this Spring. This budget actually cut Americorps funding by a third (despite Bush's promise to raise it by half), largely due to the continued rancor of many older Republicans to the Clinton-era program.

Lenkowsky's financial mismanagement has been used as a scapegoat (and retroactive justification) for these cuts, but the reality is that they have very little to do with one another. While President Bush finally managed last week to provide a solid accounting system forAmericorps, he has yet to push any kind of funding increase to meet his stated goals (75,000 members by 2004), or even bring enrollment up to pre-mismanagement levels.

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