Rep. Michele Bachmann Claims Americorps is Reeducation Camps for Young People

During an appearance of the Sue Jeffers show, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) claimed that the recent expansion the Americorps program is a dream comes true for those who want to rid America of capitalism because the Americorps program is really reeducation camps for young people.

Here are the main quotes from the interview courtesy of Dump Bachmann:

Bachmann said that Americorps is really “re-education camps for young people – and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward.” She continued, “It is a dream come true for people who want to transform our country from a free-market economy to a centralized government planned economy. It is completely different and antithetical to what our founders gave us and I think people should be shocked, they should be stunned with what is happening and the speed at which it’s happening and in particular, what is happening with the G-20 and the transnational aspects of what our President is committing our nation to.”

Americorps is a national service program open to people of all ages. Here are some of things that Americorps members do, tutor and mentor disadvantaged youth , fight illiteracy, improve health services, build affordable housing, teach computer skills , clean parks and streams, manage or operate after-school programs, help communities respond to disasters, build organizational capacity.

I know people who have served in the Americorps, and it is a great way to earn some extra money for school, or to pay back student loans. There is no reeducation camp, and no ideological requirement to be involved. I have Democrats and Republicans who have volunteered.

It is deplorable that Bachmann and many other Republicans would distort a good program that does important work in many underserved local communities just for the purposes of making a political point and feeding right wing paranoia.
Bachmann is obviously wrong, and she seems to know nothing about what the program really does.

These daily paranoid ramblings from members of the GOP are putting the United States on the verge of becoming a one party country. When Republicans make outrageous claims like Bachmann does, it makes them look crazy, and turns the choice voters in a contest between a party of the sane, and a party of the insane.

If you’re ready to read more from the unbossed and unbought Politicus team, sign up for our newsletter here!

0

24 Replies to “Rep. Michele Bachmann Claims Americorps is Reeducation Camps for Young People”

  1. I can only hope that Ms. Bachmann continues in her present wing-nut mode. To the extent that she and her ilk (Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Palin, Coulter, etc.) are tolerated by the Republican party, the continued primacy of the Democrats — whom most Americans see as sane and solid by comparison — will be guaranteed.

  2. I can only hope that Ms. Bachmann continues in her present wing-nut mode. To the extent that she and her ilk (Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Palin, Coulter, etc.) are tolerated by the Republican party, the continued primacy of the Democrats — whom most Americans see as sane and solid by comparison — will be guaranteed.

  3. Roehm Emmanuel Obama’s chief of staff talked about making public service mandatory so isn’t there a Constitutional Issue here ?
    The pretty Congresswoman has the courage to talk about issues like this and the Public has a right to know the whole story about them.
    I have had heard the Congress has had several bills with the words mandatory service in them that were later striped out, the one for Americorp said they would consider making it mandatory service later.

  4. AmeriCorps is a crock. They have unorganized, incompetent staff and they patronize everyone in AmeriCorps because they assume you must be an idiot to take on a job for 5/hour. It’s not about re-education, but it has some serious flaws. If they want any of the quality staff to stay, they’ll rethink things. The branch I worked in had five members quit in one week.

  5. I am currently a Lead AmeriCorps VISTA member in Kentucky. From service, one years as an AmeriCorps State member and two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA, I have learned many valuable, marketable skills which will help me with a career as a productive citizen of Kentucky and America.

    What Rep. Bachmann does not seem to understand is that while AmeriCorps are paid by the federal government, they are not officially employees of the government. Also, many times members get to chose trainings that the member wants to attend. So the “re-education” is education and training that is chosen by the member.

    I am glad that service is voluntary, but that more people should be aware of this experience and opportunity.

  6. By participated in AmeriCorps I am not being reeducated, but instead adding on to my college education that I received in resource management. I don’t believe that the program should be mandatory. However, I do believe AmeriCorps was a great opportunity to understand how different agencies work and a great stepping stone while the job market is down. It’s funny when she describes teaching about endangered resources and improving our nation’s water and air as propaganda.

  7. There are plenty of well-trained, well-organized Americorps staff, and site supervisors out there. Sorry you got a bad egg.

  8. What would be wrong with mandatory service anyway? Half of the kids out there now think they are God’s gift to society, and they sit on their butts and do nothing and have no respect for their adults and mentors. Americorps is not propaganda, and doesn’t teach propaganda. It is a transition which can help young adults learn how to gain valuable job skills and help needy organizations that CAN’T afford full-time staff and wouldn’t be able to run without Americorps members. Environmental education organizations, social work organizations, and many other health and community programs would NOT be able to do what they do without the “guise of volunteerism”.

    And in the beginning how she says it is not volunteerism… let’s try to see her live on an Americorps stipend. I think it’s insulting. And what is more insulting is that you are dedicating hard work and time for next to no pay, and your education award is taxed! Now that is a joke! Bachmann needs to realize what different organizations hire Americorps members. Maybe she should go to the website and do a search in her homestate and see what they would do if all those Americorps jobs were taken away instead of being created.

    There is no freedom being taken away by individuals with Americorps. As of right now, you are deciding to commit to the job and make a below livable wage because you believe firmly in the work you will be performing during your term. If anything, I’d rather serve Americorps in mandatory service than join the “philosophy” of the army. Bachmann, wake up! Do you not want young people in the U.S. to learn what it is like to have a conscience and a moral beliefs in helping others. amd om return maybe you realize your career goal b/c you were given the chance through Americorps to find out.

    I served as an Americorps in an outdoor education program in rural Northeastern Vermont that wouldn’t have been able to help local schools and communities if there were no Americorps positions. I wanted to make more money and have it be an actual job, but it wasn’t. I wouldn’t take back being an Americorps State member. I loved every minute of it and only wish that the US Government wouldn’t screw me over with my Volunteer Service because I was Getting Things Done For America (the slogan) and getting paid $383 every two weeks (which was high for a stipend two summers ago) only to have my $2632 education award get taxed. All the time and effort toward my term and I get my free service taxed. Ridiculous.

    Bachmann!!! Why don’t you go get “paid” to do Americorps and come back and do this interview again.

  9. I’m all for volunteerism, but regardless of unlivable wages, being paid for work is NOT volunteering. Now I IN NO WAY agree with Bachmann about re-education camps and the like, but volunteering is STRICTLY effort without pay. If you get paid for work, it’s called income, and every year you (and everyone in america who makes an income above a certain level) has to pay something called “income tax.”

    That’s the bottom line of the situation, it’s government created jobs that happen to help small organizations with staffing needs. Making it mandatory just means the government has to spend more tax dollars to maintain the program, scrapping the program means thousands of young people are out of work and thousands of small organizations close their doors.

  10. I am disgusted by what I am hearing and reading. I had a four year BS degree when I joined the program in OR. For someone to call this “re-education” is ignorant. I worked very hard to help the students in the Forest Grove School district. Not to mention the many community service projects we completed as a group to show the community that we were a part of it and cared about it.
    The main “draw” for me was the education award. When in my life as a public servant, could I save almost $10.000 in two years, to use to pay off current/future student loans. I think the guy above is right it is not clear-cut volunteering. I would also like to point out that I completed my contracted hours at a full-time/over-time rate and found little time to work a second job thus needing to be minimally compensated for my services. It was a struggle but I find that it was a great life lesson to learn prior to the current economic state.
    For those who want to serve the community and help others AmeriCorps is a great program and people should understand the diversity that goes along with its many programs.

  11. Dear Ms Bachmann,

    I was deeply concerned to hear your comments describing Americorps as little more than liberal “re-education camps.” Perhaps you’re not aware of the vast amount of work that Americorps members do, or the effect that work has on their communities. To that end, here is just a small list of things I was “re-educated” about during my two years as an Americorps member:

    1. I was re-educated to see how having safe, affordable housing enabled families to: take ownership and pride in their communities, contribute property taxes to support community growth and services, protect their children from gangs and dangerous living conditions, and provide a stable home life that supports positive choices.

    2. I was re-educated to set up and run a Red Cross shelter in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency. As a result of this re-education, I am now trained to efficiently and effectively keep survivors safe and provide support services to community members and emergency responders in times of crisis.

    3. I was re-educated to provide in-school mentoring and tutoring to keep kids in school and learning at grade level. I was also re-educated to provide after-school enrichment activities to keep kids away from gangs, violence, drugs, crime, and other bad choices.

    4 I was re-educated to actively seek out, recognize and overcome my own and others prejudices, and reach out to others and build a stronger community across lines of race, gender, age, culture and other potential barriers.

    5. I was re-educated to be a volunteer community mediator, to help community members settle disputes and learn the tools of effective conflict resolution. By keeping these disputes out of court, community mediation saves our local government thousands of man-hours, dollars and other resources every year.

    I can think of nothing in my “re-education” that doesn’t support every good citizen’s goals for strong, sustainable communities made of responsible, self-supporting individuals. I can only assume that your own administration supports those very same goals, or you would have little motivation to serve the public at all.

    I urge you to rethink your views about Americorps and the value it offers this country. Perhaps a little “re-education” of your own into the true nature of this powerful organization would not go amiss.

    Respectfully yours,
    Soni Pitts
    2-year Americorps Alum of Habitat for Humanity and United Way/ChildrenFIRST programs.

  12. Ahhh, how I remember AmeriCorps in all its quirkiness.

    Before I get into my post, I want to make a few things clear:

    (1) This Bachmann woman does not know what AmerICorps is. The only way she could possibly be under the false assumption that AmeriCorps is a “re-education camp for young people” is if she had had the misfortune to walk in on a group of AmeriCorps members reciting that insipid pledge (which, by the way, is far from politically partisan, which is of course what this woman is after). The fact that anyone could misinterpret the goals of the program as ultimately of a partisan nature bears testament to the fundamental lack of public understanding of the program in general, which is the fault of the administrators of the program (as well as current members and alumni).

    (2) I had a negative experience with AmeriCorps, but I understand the organization as a whole.

    Now that throat-clearing is done with, I feel I should assert that AmeriCorps is indeed in trouble, or at least it is in Indiana, where the leadership is weak, the organization is hardly foolproof, and the continuity among different programs is scarce (if not nonexistent).

    Through my experience, the individuals in charge of the local program were completely out of the loop regarding protocol and procedures involving AmeriCorps members. I blame this mainly on the inadequate training they received, but I also blame it on the selection of the AmeriCorps program manager who was in charge of the local program. She was constantly befuddled by the whole process, which makes me seriously question the standards for leadership (or for membership, even) in the AmeriCorps program. For this reason, I believe that most people who have a negative view of AmeriCorps see it as some sort of feel-good, good-for-nothing program (if they even know that AmeriCorps exists), especially when it is juxtaposed against the highly publicized Peace Corps.

    Also, I myself found several loopholes in the organization of the program. For instance, since my site supervisor was absent (either physically or mentally) for the duration of my program, I was able to be quite liberal in my own assessment of how many hours I had “served.” (Hey, just being honest here!) The organization of the program was also detrimental in that I was constantly questioning exactly what I could and could not do. Of course, this wariness is symptomatic of grant-funded projects in general, but it seems to me that if the organization and systemization of the goal were tighter, AmeriCorps members would feel more comfortable as they carry out explicit goals following simple, explicit rules/regulations.

    Finally, I’d like to comment on the continuity among programs. The fact that some individual AmeriCorps programs are much stronger than others is to be expected to some degree with such a wide-ranging organization, and this can be a good thing. The diversity that exists among the many different organizations means that people who have profound interests in the arts, in humanitarian aid, in environmental conservation, and in social justice can all find a program that fits their desires and needs. Unfortunately, since the standards that all programs must follow are incredibly lax, this results in a general mistrust of the AmeriCorps program in general, as there are just as many people who have had negative experiences with the program as there are people who have had wonderful, enriching, and even career-orienting experiences that have changed their lives forever.

    In the end, the AmeriCorps program itself is in dire need of new direction and stronger standards and guidelines (not to mention supervision of individual programs) in order to ensure its continued success, not to mention a reinvention of the opinion that many people have on the program in general. If the administrators on all levels were more involved in making AmeriCorps a more streamlined, efficient, and socially powerful organization, then the public would see that the goals of the program are far from partisan and that they are in fact deeply needed, particularly in such an economically wounded country as the United States is at present.

    Daniel W.
    Indiana AmeriCorps*State Alumnus 2008

    (On a completely unrelated note, I would like to also point out that, as a student of rhetoric and composition, I absolutely despise the awkward asterisks that AmeriCorps insists on including in the names of the different divisions of the program as a whole. I realize this probably won’t change, but it sure does bug me to no end.)

  13. A massive increase of federal funding for AmeriCorps jeopardizes the independence of private charities. AmeriCorps is a grant funded program with the federal government having the final say on which charities receive government subsidized labor. This allows the government to effectively influence the mission and programs of charities that cannot provide financial incentive to other volunteers. Further a long run expansion of the AmeriCorps program shifts focus away from private community responsibility for social problems to government responsibility. More funding for charity staff will be obtained through taxes and less through voluntary giving.

    This is perhaps the “reeducation” that the Congresswoman is talking about. As we have seen in the past decade, expansion of federal programs leads to a change in cultural standards and expectations. It would be difficult now days for the average citizen to imagine the government not providing social security or mandating unemployment compensation. In fact we have come to expect these programs as a fundamental right. The merits of these programs aside, the fact remains that the average citizen’s perception of the government roles in society has changed.

    The public’s perception on community involvement itself will also change if the increase AmeriCorps spending is maintained. Rather than a personal act of compassion, volunteering will become institutionalized. Funding for charities may no longer be seen as generously fueled by the compassion of private citizens, but rather as money involuntary coerced from the tax paying public

  14. Volunteering will never be phased out completely because there will always be people who are in need, people whom the government would be reluctant to help for “political” reasons. For instance, I really doubt that the government is going to sponsor LGBT-related volunteer projects. Could you imagine the uproar such legislation would cause?

  15. agree with you and I think that enhances the previous post you are replying to.

    Volunteer workers and charitable organizations have diverse and even opposing objectives. Definitions for how to improve communities and society vary by person and organization.

    A massive expansion of AmeriCorps (more than doubling the members) effectively gives the government a direct influence over the objectives and the work being done. Government should not fund LBGT-related work nor should they fund religious charities or otherwise who oppose certain aspects of the LBGT movement. The federal AmeriCorps program takes sides by intruding coercive federal power into the realm of private and personal human compassion.

    One might argue that some charities like Habitat for Humanity or the Red Cross are uncontroversial and worthy of all increased levels of volunteer support. However, even the Red Cross supports debatable political objectives. For example the International Red Cross (and the American Red Cross by affiliation) has repeatedly endorsed the creation of an International Criminal Court. The U.S. government (across several administrations) has consistently opposed the ICC as it interferes with US sovereignty. The issue is controversial and by no means universally accepted.

    I point out this controversy to illustrate the point that values cannot be universalized. It is naive to believe that there is only one theory for how to make the world a better place. AmeriCorps “reeducates” young people by federally endorsing certain theories on what is the “correct” set of values for society and individuals. The AmeriCorps program has done good work in practice, but is based on a flawed understanding of government and society.

  16. While AmeriCorps is not perfect, it certainly isn’t what this woman is claiming that it is set up to do. She’s a crackpot….and I’m a conservative saying this. Lord help us….this woman has the pursestrings and the potential to press important buttons. Proof that stupidity is alive and well in Washington. I have had the good graces to serve my community as an AmeriCorps volunteer for the past two years. While the program has its problems, it forges new relationships, gives valuable life expreience and training that can be applied in the private sector, provides stipends JUST LARGE ENOUGH TO LIVE ON and a tuition allowance to further education. How can that be implied to be bad? It is a Democratic pet program (Kennedy, Clinton, now Obama), but even Republicans have supported it — I served with a ministerial association in my hometown, furthuring cultural understanding and cooperative programs. Without the Bush II policies on Faith-based programs, I likely would not have been able to do this.

  17. I’ve been getting things done as an AmeriCorps “volunteer” for the past 8 months. My experience has been very positive (apart from the impoverished lifestyle); however, I have mixed feelings about the program as a whole.

    On the one hand, good things are getting done through AmeriCorps. As an AmeriCorps “volunteer,” I’ve set up various service projects and programs which have produced significant benefits to the community. In addition, I’ve gained valuable experience which will help me as I pursue my career ambitions.

    On the other hand, my graduate study of motivation within the context of university volunteerism suggests to me that AmeriCorps may be having unintended negative effects on attitudes about volunteerism. AmeriCorps is paying people to “volunteer.” For the “volunteers,” will this undermine intrinsic motivation to continue volunteering after the monetary rewards are no longer available? On a larger scale, will nationalizing “volunteerism” lead to the absolution of the individuals’ sense of community responsibility? Will people start to view volunteerism as something that is only done when you’re course required or monetarily rewarded to do so? (Research in both economics and social sciences suggests that this could happen.)

    So, I guess I don’t know whether or not I’m a fan of AmeriCorps, as it would be impossible to know whether national service is doing enough good now to compensate for the lost good that may occur as a result of societal shifts in perceptions of civic responsibility.

    Either way, we should keep the semantics pure. Volunteering, by definition, is without pay! (Even though I’m officially referred to as an AmeriCorps “volunteer,” I would never say that I was volunteering, because I get paid.) We should call us “AmeriCorps Community Workers” or something to that effect.

  18. Is the American young getting “re-educated” any differently than the “re-education” of the American soldier? Walk a mile in one those kids shoes – or come down here and try to tell someone that their house won’t begin construction for several months because of red tape – and they’ve been living in a FEMA trailer for 3.5 years…. If she saw these young people, day after day, give so much to this country she wouldn’t have the nerve – but since they wear a different uniform AND our new (democrat) president is a huge believer in volunteerism they are a target for her.
    As AmeriCorps*VISTA and 49 I am apalled that a politician would consider these comments valid enough to say them publicly. We live at the poverty level, we give up lives with our families – moving oftentimes hundreds (if not thousands) of miles away because we believe (good experience or bad) that we can make a small difference. Just as someone who serves their country in the US military believes in the mission so do we.
    Not too many of us want thanks – but we don’t want to be belittled, ignored, or thrown to the side by our government.
    As an aside – it might interest Ms Bachman to know that VISTA’s take the VERY SAME oath of servce that the American military takes.
    My mother always told me that I would get my reward in heaven – and I hope that there’s a special place up there for those who serve in AmeriCorps!

  19. I don’t know what affiliation with the AmeriCorps program you had, but keep in mind that they work with several thousand non-profit orgnanizations around the country. So there is a potential that you might have just seen a few bad examples of a very large organization.

    I speak as someone who did two years as an AmeriCorps member, I never called myself a volunteer. And as far as disorganization, over a two year period I helped with renovations in Arkansas State Parks, I personally filed over 150 tax returns for low income families, tutored almost twenty children for three months, and helped build over thirty homes with Habitat for Humanity.

    Immediately after my AmeriCorps terms I led the construction of 14 homes in five days using almost six hundred volunteers. I could not have done this without the technical and managment skills that I learned while participating in the AmeriCorps program.

    I have known many people that went through the program and went on to be successful business leader, and a couple in politics.

    So as to your statement about AmeriCorps beeing a “crock,” It is like every other organization in existance. It depends upon the person. You can’t judge a program that is as vast and varied by a few bad examples.

  20. AmeriCorps gives me the creeps these days. It used to be a nice little volunteer organization, but no more. Now the “volunteers” get paid. See

    http://www.americorps.gov/for_individuals/faq/index.asp#GETCASH

    In addition to cash, they are provided with housing, meals, medical benefits, $400 a month for childcare, and member uniforms — including “battle dress” pants and steel-toed work boots. I kid you not. You’ve just gotta have steel-toed boots to bring Hope and Change to the Oppressed, right?

    Members, as they are called, also get an education award. So don’t think this is a volunteer program. It’s a $200 million government boondoggle as far as I’m concerned, with possibly dangerous implications.

    Obama did promise during the campaign to build a “national civilian security force,” as powerful and as well-funded as our military. They took the “security” buzzword out; now it’s the more neutral-sounding National Civilian Community Corps… part of AmeriCorps.

    So what do they do in their steel-toed boots? They “prevent home foreclosures,” though no one seems to know how they go about that. And they “strengthen” food banks, “expand nonprofit capacity,” “recruit and manage volunteers and provide other services.” If you see them helping out in your community, lemme know.

    NCCC training camps are in Denver, Sacramento, Perry Point MD, Vicksburg MS and Vinton IA. Before you disagree with (i.e., villify) Rep. Bachmann, maybe you should go visit one of these camps and see for yourself.

  21. […] otherwords, I’m a professional volunteer with the government.  (Please disregard any talk from Michele Bachmann about “re-education camps” that you may have heard. I can tell you from first hand […]

  22. You have to be kidding me. I was a full-time Americorps member for two years. Guess how much I was paid? Less than three dollars an hour. Your post incorrectly suggests that people out of high school or college chose to become hard working Americorps members because of the money. It was impossible to save money during Americorps, what money you make you pay for food. I wasn’t able to save a penny. People don’t join Americorps for the tiny, tiny living stipend. I didn’t pack my bags and move across the US to take part in very physically demanding service projects for two 10-month contract periods because I would get less than $3 an hour. I did it to make a difference. I met hundreds of Americorps member. Not one of them joined Americorps so that they could get just enough money to be able to feed themselves. What a joke.

  23. I was actually a member of NCCC, thus I am much more knowledge than you are about the program. So let me fill you in on some things.

    1. The benefits you listed:

    Housing: we were based out of an old, abandoned airforce base. Two people to a 10×10 room. On projects, housing was provided by the businesses we volunteered for—not paid by tax payers at all.

    Meals: Each member was given a $3.50 meal allowance per day.

    Medical benefits: Pretty cheap insurance that few doctors would even take

    Childcare: Out of the hundreds of NCCC members (aged 18-24), not one had a child or used this benefit.

    Battle-dress pants: We had khaki work pants and black dress pants issued

    Steel-toed boots: We worked with Habitat for Humanity building homes. Don’t want crushed toes do we??

    Education grant: Although I’m not even using mine (I paid for college before joining Americorps), the grant is an incentive to get kids to get an education. They can’t use the money for anything else, other than education.

    As far as getting “paid” to volunteer, we did get paid a little less than $300 per month in a stipend. I was unable to save a penny with this sort of money. For less than $300 per month, I helped in schools, worked at summer camps, assisted in food pantries, built trails with the forest service, worked at senior centers, helped FEMA after Hurrican Charlie, etc.

    Your post is extremely ignorant. You can tell you know nothing about Americorps. $200 million is peanuts compared to the amount of work you get out of Americorps members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.