Don't back off now
Five years after Maryland lawmakers made 75 hours of community service a requirement for graduation, three of every 10 Washington County high school senior haven't completed them. Twenty-four haven't even started, and the pressure is building for some measure that would let them off the hook. Forget that, unless the school system wants to give up any role in instructing students in how to become good citizens.
Our position stems from these facts: The requirement is ridiculously easy to complete. For teenagers who probably spend more than 75 hours a month watching television, giving 75 hours to charity over four years is no big burden, unless you count making contact with the less fortunate a hardship.
For those who feel that way, there are other projects that don't involve human contact like picking up trash along a stretch of roadway or stuffing envelopes for a local charity. Frankly, some of the toughest critics of this law have told us that it teaches children little about public service because some projects that have been approved for credit - rolling out wrestling mats before gym class in one local school, for example - fall into the category of busywork.