This is actually a suggestion I made in a policy paper several years ago, although I don't know whether or not my ideas have anything to do with the proposed policy. I do know that Bill Galston of Brookings, one of two correspondents I debated in the original paper, is influential in Democratic and possibly therefore Obamite education policy circles.
Even if it isn't my sole or original idea, it's nice to see it up there so quickly.
Here's the paper: www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/IPPP/reports/vol23fall03/vol23fall03.pdf
And here's the President-elect's web-page statement:
"When you choose to serve -- whether it's your nation, your community or simply your neighborhood -- you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just for ourselves, but for all Americans. That's why it's called the American dream."
The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.