Speak Out!

July 16, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE -- A firefighter cadet training program for Arundel High School students has been canceled for the coming school year, mainly because of declining interest. The fire department and the school system decided to suspend the program for a year while the curriculum is revamped. But a representative of the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association said the decision was premature and made without input from the association, which had pushed for the creation of the program.

Should the program have been canceled? How could it be improved?

Missed opportunity to let youths serve

On Sept. 11, 2001, this nation witnessed the dedication and heroic acts of "First Responders" to the crises at Twin Towers, in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. Ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things - doing their jobs saving lives.

Canceling the firefighter cadet-training program in Anne Arundel County was shortsighted. It deprives our students of the opportunity to prepare for an honorable profession that pays a living wage and enriches the soul. With many students not going to college, I see this as another missed opportunity to prepare "all" children to achieve the American promise.

But this is not the only vocational program falling victim to education elitism and recruiting sloth. I recently met a 19-year-old graduate of the North County High School Medical Assisting program bemoaning its closure. He is making $33,000 a year, on a career track that pays him a decent wage and affords him the opportunity to pursue advancement.

With Anne Arundel County paying to recruit foreign teachers, Baltimore City importing bilingual police officers and multinational corporations importing and outsourcing jobs to cheap overseas labor markets, just what is the mission of the American school system?

Maryellen Brady Edgewater

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