I live in the area of the Webster Magnet School. Although my kids do not attend that school, I have had a snootful of service learning projects assigned to my kids throughout the years. We have partnership schools in the suburbs where kids get together to "make friends" with kids in other areas of the city. I'm all for Feed the Children, but my daughter's class has been working on this project for the last 3 weeks, taking a field trip to the center. "Let's not teach history or proper English, let's teach service." The kids miss a lot of instructional time doing these projects. No wonder my husband and I are so tired. We have to teach them school subjects after they get home from school.
I feel I can't say anything negative about these programs because it is just not politically correct. Teachers love them. The principal loves them. Parents love them. "They are soooo good for the students and the community. A good way to build community in the school." I think it turns kids off to volunteerism.
Hogwarts has some service trips that are fantastically fun, I'm told: especially the summer trip to Tennessee, where I think the kids help build houses.
I don't begrudge a Catholic school having a service requirement -- it's a Catholic school, after all. It's supposed to have a service requirement. The Jesuit motto is "Men for others," and that is what they teach.
One of the things I like about the service requirement in a Catholic school is that often a student's service is given to the school. In a wealthy public school that might get on my nerves, but in a Catholic school operating on a shoestring, I like it.