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Harford Delegation critical of school board on technical high school [Letter]

Over the past few months The Aegis has covered issues involving Harford Community College and Harford County Public Schools.

The Aegis has done an excellent job keeping the public informed about these problems, which were brought to our attention by concerned citizens, and the Harford County Delegation and our colleagues on the County Council have taken an active role in resolving these issues. Truly, it is the job of your state senators and delegates to be a voice for you, and to bring to public attention situations which need fixing.

As a Delegation we have continuously been asking over the past 12 years for a new vocational high school for Harford County. This has been supported by certain current and past members of the Board of Education.  But unfortunately the full board has never, to our knowledge, taken an active role in this.  It is important for you to know that vocational training in Harford County is now below the bare-bones minimum.  Harford Technical High School is now only 10-20 percent vocational, the plumbing program having recently been canceled. 

As the Delegation sees it, this is just not an acceptable situation.

Harford County has done a great job in creating magnet programs to advance our top academic students.  There is no reason why such magnet programs could not be duplicated for our students seeking vocational training.

In short, our public schools are discriminating against and looking down upon students who want to choose a trade over college. Sad to say, but true, there is an elitist attitude in certain circles which says that every child must go to college to have a good career. Students whose desires, talents and abilities would steer them toward a trade are denied entry into HTHS because of a "low" grade point average. If they were tested not by the present one-size-fits-all method for academic potential, but rather for vocational ability, their true achievement potential could be recognized and fostered.

Harford County's is not the only delegation seeking to improve vocational training in Maryland.  Del. Luiz Simmons has sponsored a bill to create vocational apprenticeship programs in high schools (House Bill 1207).  A group of legislators, including myself, are now planning to form a bi-partisan vocational education caucus to promote equal access to appropriate education and training for all students, whether they want to go to college or to learn a trade.

I firmly believe that if all interested parties – parents, Board of Education, business, and elected officials – can come together, we can make Harford County a successful model of how vocational training should be done, just as we have already done with the STEM magnet programs.

Del. Rick Impallaria

District 7

Chair, Harford County Delegation

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