INVOLUNTARY VOLUNTEERS

PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE STARTING TO REQUIRE STUDENTS TO SERVE THEIR COMMUNITIES. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

As a student last year at Baltimore's Dunbar High, Christina Mullins knew she wouldn't be able to graduate unless she put in the 75 hours of community service required of all students by the state of Maryland. So she volunteered in the obstetrics-gynecology department at nearby Johns Hopkins University. It would be a good way, she thought, to accumulate hours and also get an insider's look at a medical career.

But she mostly saw the inside of a file cabinet. "I was filing papers all day--eight hours--for free," says Mullins. "Do you know how boring that is? And I couldn't get...

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