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Kids need trade opportunities, too

April 08, 2006|By Ron Shoop

I am a concerned parent, citizen, and taxpayer here in Washington County. Every day, I read in the paper or listen to on the radio or watch on television the concerns of our community about our school system.

In the state of Maryland we use the phrase " No Child Left Behind." We are blessed in this community to have many talented and gifted children from many walks of life. Some are gifted with academic abilities and some are gifted with the ability to excel in works with their hands as well as their minds. We have programs to assist academically inclined students to progress in their education at higher levels after graduation. For some reason, our students who are gifted in trade abilities (carpenters, electricians, masons, plumbers, etc.) are not offered the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to enter these fields successfully after graduation.

Our building trades are finding it increasingly difficult to find new talent to fill vacancies in their work force.

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One school here in the Tri-State area has revamped its curriculum in auto mechanics to provide students the opportunity to graduate with an entry level ASE certification in auto mechanics. What if other school systems offered programs such as this? Certification in welding might be one good example.

We need people to build and maintain our homes and businesses, present and future. Unfortunately, not every family has the means or ability to give their child or children the opportunity to attend college after graduation from high school. So these children, many of whom have talents that could be developed in a trade school setting, are in fact left behind because economics doesn't permit them to pursue higher education upon graduation from high school.

Perhaps we should consider looking at revamping the curriculum to provide an equal opportunity to the students with the "hands-on" talents to find adequate paying employment after graduation so that, in fact, no child is left behind. If we are to be able to keep up with the growing needs of this county, then we need to be able to place our graduating students in jobs that will afford them the opportunity to earn the kind of trade that will enable them to contribute to the tax base from which we fund our schools and government.

Once in a conversation with a high school principal I mentioned my feelings about the need for a more in depth vocational program in Washington County and the reply was to the effect of, "Maybe if the employers in Washington County were to put some money towards a vocational program." I then began to wonder if colleges were putting money into the WCPS system, since everything seems to be geared toward colleges!

WCPS board member Russell Williams advocates applying suggested Washington County tax rebates toward opportunities for college students needing financial assistance. Why not pursue an improved trade program here in Washington County to cultivate the talents of our youth into productive and responsible members of our work force with out the need for higher education? With current programs such as the Mike Callas stadium project and the new proposed Westfields Elementary School under way, it is rather obvious that we need skilled labor to ensure a successful future for this county.

How about some thought on this idea from the Washington County School Board?

Ron Shoop

Hagerstown

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