An opinion piece I wrote for Socialworkhelper.com
Originally posted on SWH:
This is an opinion piece written by Rachel West. [Rachel is a Licensed Master of Social Work in New York State. She holds a BA in History from SUNY Stony Brook and an MSW from Adelphi University. You can visit Rachel at her blog "The Political Social Worker".]
I think the thing with JDs becoming Community Organizers is because CO is considered an entry level political position and for years a law degree has been viewed as the ideal education for working in politics. There are a huge number of elected officials and staff members who work for politicians that hold a JD. Even President Obama, a law school grad, started out as a CO. Now new law school grads are having a hard time (that is an understatement) finding jobs at law firms so they are all the more willing to take CO positions. Then you have the cultural shift within the social work profession that has pushed us more towards being therapist; thus further distancing us from our grassroots-community work beginnings.
In social work school the majority of my fellow students where there purely to do clinical work and they showed zero interest in politics. In fact many where resentful of having to take two semesters of public policy classes. I would try to persuade them that even as private practitioners they needed to demonstrate a certain level of political awareness because public policy impacts the lives of their individual clients. Some would agree with this but still hold their nose at the idea of having to get involved with the political process. Then there where the ones who never thought of social work being related to politics and once they discovered the interconnectedness of the two they showed an interest.