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A New Kind of Academy

March 13, 2007

Imagine a college where students get a rigorous, top-notch, all-expense paid education, in the tradition of military academies. But instead of years in the military, graduates would repay their education in public service – be it local, state, or federal government.

This amazing school is becoming a reality, thanks to Chris Myers Asch and Shawn Raymond, and their project: The United States Public Service Academy. Their idea has become a congressional bill and will be introduced next week by Senator Clinton, along with another Senator and 2 Representatives. This is very impressive from 2 thirty-somethings who did Teach for America together, especially since they first came up with the idea less than one year ago!

That is one impressive display of resourcefulness, gumption and passion.

I know you all are dying to help this project out, so here’s what you can do: if you are high school student, college student, or recent grad, express your support for this awesome bill by “signing” the letter and mailing it to

It’s so easy and this is such a great cause.

Dear Members of Congress:

We, the undersigned, are high school students, college students, and recent college graduates in the United States, and we are urging you to support the Public Service Academy Act. We think the U.S. Public Service Academy is the kind of school that young people would love to attend. If the Academy were around when we were applying to college, we would have applied to attend. We need to build it for future generations!



(City, State)
7 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    March 14, 2007 6:43 pm

    Hmm this is interesting…

    Mission of the USPSA: “developing leaders of character dedicated to service in the public sector”,

    and the mission of USAFA: “to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers of character motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.”

  2. March 15, 2007 8:01 pm

    Yeah, very close philosophies. That’s the idea, right?

  3. Shawn Raymond permalink
    March 17, 2007 2:44 pm


    Thank you for letting folks know about the U.S. Public Service Academy idea that Chris Myers Asch and I have been working on for more than a year. The concept is simple, powerful, and would fill a great need. I strongly encourage readers of your blog to visit our website to learn more about our idea:

    Feel free to email me any questions:

    Shawn Raymond
    Co-founder, U.S. Public Service Academy

  4. missprofe permalink
    March 31, 2007 9:51 pm

    Why do we need a separate public service academy? And what would be the admissions criteria for such an academy? Why would/should students want to attend such an institution? Is a “free” education the only incentive?

    Shawn Raymond says it would fill a great need? What is that need?

    I really don’t see the point of segregating the concept of public service into a separate educational entity. So, how would doing so be advantageous?

  5. Matt Gaffney permalink
    August 17, 2007 12:35 pm

    As wonderful as it sounds, I think the Public Service Academy would be more than a mistake. It would be a huge blunder, a resounding disaster. The last 65 years of our nation’s history should show that clearly to those willing to see.

    Our service academies have churned out intelligent, educated, articulate, adept, obedient, mission-oriented military leaders. Those military leaders brought us My Lai. the Phoenix Program, and the Tiger Force during our stint in Viet Nam. The proven or merely alleged war crimes during that time stem from the academy-educated officers in the Pentagon writing reports, creating charts, consulting statistics, and trying to please ignorant political leaders (thereby keeping their jobs). In the field, they led an army of grunts who either volunteered because they loved the smell of napalm in the morning or were not intelligent enough to avoid being drafted. Everyone was a specialist, everyone had a niche; no one was responsible for things going awry.

    The U. S. war crimes in Iraq are numerous and well documented; the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal is the most notorious, but certainly not an anomaly. For those interested in the long, sad list, Google “A Report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq” compiled by former U. S Attorney General Ramsey Clark and others. These incidents spring from an even more inbred mentality in the military than did the terrible misconduct in Viet Nam. Each person furthered his or her little bit of the effort. It was incremental immorality; creeping ethical erosion.

    The spectacular and shameful examples above are merely what’s above the water in the archipelago shameful deeds brought about by our academy-trained military leaders and their civilian masters.

    We train our military how to achieve a goal, but we don’t train them to think about whether a goal is worthwhile. Curiously enough, this penchant we have in the United States to achieve a goal, to overcome a perceived hurdle, to prevail, is precisely what caused all the problems in Crichton’s Jurassic Park: no one ever asked “should we clone dinosaurs?”, the money man could do it, so he did. Others had to contend with—and die from—the consequences.

    The problem is specialization: technocracy. Students at the Public Service Academy will be primarily concerned with how to achieve a goal, not whether or not the goal is worthwhile. We don’t need that. We do need intelligent, educated, experienced people to run our government, but their education should be broad, not narrow. Their experience should span the globe, not be dripped intravenously into them by senior bureaucrats. And that’s what will happen if the Public Service Academy as it’s now proposed comes about.

    The causes of the problems are subtle, not imaginary. Read M. Scott Peck’s People of the Lie. In it, Peck dealt with the notion of evil. That’s not a hot topic for most folks, but it’s a world reality. Based on his writings, the proposed Public Service Academy itself would not be evil and I’m not contending that it would be evil; however, I think that it would produce people who, because of their very narrow, specialized education, would bring about evil, just as the very narrow educations of officers from our military academies have brought about (unwittingly, perhaps) evil.

    The above is very, very dangerous ground and you’ve got to factor safeguards against the dangers in to any system that might arise in a Public Service Academy and, frankly, I don’t think it can be done. The Public Service Academy will spawn evil because that’s what happens in closed, specialized systems.

  6. Jason permalink
    August 17, 2007 1:24 pm

    Matt – thanks for your thoughtful response. It’s true that the American military has made some serious blunders in the past and continue to do so in some places today. When people don’t consider the worthiness of a goal, it can lead to some serious and undesirable consequences.

    This is exactly why the Public Service Academy is so important. It exists to ” develop students who pursue the highest ideals of human character and the American values of freedom, democracy, and equal opportunity; strive for individual excellence yet feel A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO ACHIEVE THE COMMON GOOD” (my emphasis). This is exactly what America needs – people who are willing to take responsibility for their actions – something that was missing in Vietnam and in places in Iraq today.

    Society is moving towards specialized knowledge simply because in an advanced society, specialized knowledge is rewarded. That’s why the number of liberal arts majors is dropping and why many people graduate with science and engineering degrees. You’re right, its critical to have broad education and consider the consequences, but the route is not through rejecting specialization. Specialization alone does not bring evil; evil happens when people dehumanize others – much more likely in the military than at a PUBLIC SERVICE institution.

  7. August 20, 2007 9:08 pm

    Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what can you do for Hillary Clinton. I was a guinea pig at Hillary’s “think tank.” Somewhere, between Purgatory and the Gulag system, Hillary spawned the US Public Service Academy. The Duke lacrosse team fiasco shows that liberal educators have created a phony cultural paradigm that distorts reality. But, nobody exploits phony paradigms, obfuscates the truth, or games the system like the Clintons.


    Set the Wayback Machine for 23 August 1995: a hot day in the nation’s capitol. But 3000 miles due west on California’s Central Coast, a constellation of events was unfolding that would have a profound effect on Western civilization. Yet, this cataclysmic upheaval was only part of the plan. Bill Clinton picked up the telephone. It was his Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, calling from a payphone in Monterey. Bill held the receiver at arms length and gazed at the tasteful floral arrangement that adorned the Oval Office. Leon’s disembodied voice filled the room. What now, asked Hillary. It’s that damn college, mouthed Bill. There was, no getting out. Hillary nodded, just tell Leon he’ll get whatever he needs:

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