We all hope that schools will teach more than the 3-R’s, guiding students to become upstanding members of their community. One tactic sometimes used to this end is to require students to provide “volunteer” service hours. Presumably, the notion is that by being forced to provide community service students will acquire the habit of more voluntary volunteering.
Whether you approve of required do-gooding or not, we have some evidence on whether requiring volunteer hours teaches kids to volunteer. The answer is “no.” Sara Helms compared service hours in Maryland to service hours in the nation at large. Maryland is the only state that requires service hours from all high school students. Helm’s first picture looks at 8th grade students. (In most Maryland districts the required volunteering takes place in grades 6 through 10.) You can see a noticeable increase in (occasional) volunteering in Maryland versus the whole country after Maryland put the policy into effect.
Does it stick? Nope. By 12th grade Maryland students aren’t doing any more volunteering than anyone else.