Calling All Students – Now is the Time to Volunteer for GOP Candidates!
By Sharon Cohen MCGOP Central Committee
The school year is about to start. Over the next few weeks, families and their students will be shopping for the school supplies needed in order to be ready for the start the school year.
Let’s add one more thing to the student list this fall: volunteering to help a Republican candidate for office!
When doing volunteer campaign work, students not only learn about the political process, they gain real life experience for resume building and college applications, and they can earn Student Service Learning (SSL) credits required for high school graduation. Since we as Republican and/or conservative parents MUST teach our kids about Republican priorities, what better way for them to do so than by volunteering for a Republican candidate for office or for the party?
The sooner that parents involve their student offspring in Republican political activities (grandparents can help here too) the better, especially before they get turned around in college.
If you have a student in your family, you are probably well aware of the county’s 75 SSL credit hour requirement for graduation. Students may begin earning SSL credits after completing the 5th grade. Students who complete 260 SSL credit hours by the first Friday in April of their senior year are given a Montgomery County Public School “Certificate of Meritorious Service” award (something that looks great on both college and job applications, by the way.)
Parents and MCPS SSL coordinators at each school often ask if students can volunteer for a political organization, a political party OR for a candidate for office. THE ANSWER IS YES! See the MCPS Frequently Asked Questions answer here: SSL FAQs
Political parties, political organizations and candidates for office are not “Pre-Approved” for SSL credits; meaning none automatically appear on a countywide list that students, parents and MCPS SSL coordinators (each school has its own coordinator) can access or see. This can lead to confusion, since the entity is not included on the “Pre Approved” list. Some SSL school coordinators, therefore, assume that SSL credits are not permitted for volunteer work with a candidate or political party. If you or your student receives ANY pushback from your student’s SSL coordinator, let me know (Email Sharon) and I can have the countywide SSL coordinator call him or her to clear up the matter.
Not being “Pre Approved,” means there is more paperwork to handle. In order to receive SSL credits a non-Pre Approved entity (all political organizations, parties and candidates for office fall into this category) MCPS Form 560-50 (MCPS SSL Approval Request Form (the “Individual Student Service Learning Request form) must be submitted prior to doing any volunteer work. This form requires the volunteer entity and the student as well as the parent to complete sections of the form. Completed “Request” forms are submitted to the student’s school, to that school’s SSL coordinator. Call your student’s school to confirm the name of your student’s SSL coordinator for the 2018-2019 school year, since that list is not yet published on the MCPS website.
Here is the list for the last school year: 2017 - 2018 MCPS SSL Coordinators For Each School
While there is no hard deadline for submitting a request form, a good rule of thumb is to submit the “request” form at least one week prior to the start of any volunteer work. If volunteer work does not begin until after Labor Day, fall semester request forms may be submitted now. It is a good idea to call ahead now, to ensure that your school’s SSL coordinator is back (has returned from summer vacation) and to confirm the name of your school’s SSL coordinator.
Sometimes at the end of the summer/beginning of the school year, information about the designated SSL coordinator for your student’s school may be delayed as the school tries to figure out who will be taking on that role. You don’t want the request form to sit in an “in box” while this gets worked out.
If there is ever any problem getting paperwork approved in a timely fashion by your student’s school, call or email the Countywide SSL Coordinator: Mrs. Shella Cherry, Student Leadership, SSL, and Volunteers Coordinator at 301-279-3454 or SSL@mcpsmd.org.
Students can volunteer to do a myriad of tasks: sort/stuff literature bags; participate in sign waving events; staff a booth at an event; walk with candidates in parades, help at events (set up/clean up); make phone calls to remind voters of upcoming events or to vote, as well as basic office tasks such as answering phones, copying and filing. Students with higher-level skills may help with areas such as social media, websites, databases, research and writing.
The ONLY things students cannot do to earn SSL credits are fundraising (making calls or soliciting for funds) and door knocking. *Any student can still do both tasks, they just won’t earn SSL credits. Further, in order for students to earn SSL credits they must have adult supervision while volunteering and that supervision needs to be an adult other than the student’s parent.
Once volunteer work is done for that semester period, an “activity verification form” must be completed again by the student, parent and entity with whom the student volunteered. This “ activity verification form” MCPS SSL Verification Form For has submission deadlines as noted below, but the forms may be submitted earlier. When volunteering for an actual candidate, it is best to complete this paperwork after the General Election (November 6, 2018), as election work will cease thereafter.
- Service completed during the summer – verification form is due 9/28/18
- Service completed during the fall – verification form is due 1/4/2019*
For campaigns or other political entities offering volunteer opportunities for students and SSL credits, be sure to make it fun. But also make sure to provide clear guidance on tasks to be completed and provide feedback to the student. After all, the student may have never worked on a campaign so this is a learning experience for him/her. Make sure to provide them with valuable input to make this learning experience real.
School starts in three weeks! The election is in three months! NOW is the time for parents to talk to their students about volunteering for a Republican candidate for office or for the local party. We need young foot soldiers to help us and we need to teach them about participation in the political process, so get your students signed up to volunteer!