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Monday, November 4, 2019

Do we need another member?

I am a volunteer at my local fire hall and being such am on a committee.  Our committee met this past week and among other business we discussed an inactive member.  The inactive member had previously said she would not likely continue on the committee.

Thus, there was a vote to remove her from the committee.  One of our officers then asked the question, "Do we need to replace her?"

It was a great question.  There is nothing magic about the current committee make-up.  It could be a committee of five or seven or whatever.  The areas we serve - fire, medical, rope rescue, and community service - were already represented.  And further, members in the fire hall are already stretched thin and often over committed.  Such it is with men and women who have a heart to serve others I suppose.

Well, as I woke this morning and was drinking my pre-work coffee, I began thinking.

Our local paper ran an article this past weekend about the alarming rate teachers are leaving our county school system.  In my school, we have turnover.  There are lots of reasons offered, lots of scapegoats, and lots of fingers to point.

Reading the following: Compulsory Education  I found

In 1852, Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to pass a contemporary universal public education law. In particular, the Massachusetts General Court required every town to create and operate a grammar school. Fines were imposed on parents who did not send their children to school, and the government took the power to take children away from their parents and apprentice them to others if government officials decided that the parents were "unfit to have the children educated properly".

Now the Amish do not have to educate past the 8th grade according to federal law, and apparently were some of the first children left behind in the famous "No Child Left Behind" campaign.  
But for the rest, America has slowly made education longer (requiring first middle and then high school) and more required.   All in all, high school as compulsory is a historical fad.  It has only been a mandate in America for a hundred years or so.  

And perhaps.... perhaps... it shouldn't be.  If a student can't make high school either academically or through appropriate social interaction then maybe he or she would be best served elsewhere.  Maybe offer a GED voucher so that child once a bit more mature, separate from the current home life, and ready could obtain a GED?  Or maybe offer appropriately devised work programs?  

But what we should not do is just assume that mandatory high school education is a universal norm or even if it is a universal necessity.  I know there is much to debate here with issues of poverty, opportunity, gang violence, and the like.  I also know that in my city the high schools in those areas of poverty and violence are not necessarily any safer or any greater benefit to the student than possible alternatives.   

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