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Ref: Maryland magnet school focuses homeland security courses for students

Examiner

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Local
Homeland Security program ties lessons to real world



Kelsey Volkmann, The Examiner
2007-11-27 08:00:00.0
Current rank: # 40 of 7,196

BALTIMORE -
Students compete in a scavenger hunt using NASA-inspired global positioning systems, learn lessons in cybersecurity and participate in mock drills responding to tanker spills and terrorist attacks.

The Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Program at Joppatowne High School is the first in the nation to groom the next generation of national security analysts, chemical warfare scientists, Arabic translators and defense contractors.

“I think kids do better in school when they see why they are taking these subjects,” said Frank Mazzanotte, head of magnet program development for Harford County Public Schools.

“With BRAC, there will be an opportunity for students out of high school to do some work to make money to pay for college and step into internships and jobs.”

Nearby Aberdeen Proving Ground, for example, needs people with experience working with geospatial technology to help lay water and gas lines to prepare for federal Base Realignment and Closure, which will bring 60,000 jobs to Maryland, including 19,000 in Harford County alone, in the next four years.

While critics have called the program a training ground for the military-industrial complex, school officials quickly dismiss the claim.

“Far from just terrorism, we deal with an understanding of cultures and religions and the history behind where we’ve got to,” Mazzanotte said.

“But there is a strong belief there will be another attack.”

Jonathan Zimmerman, director of New York University’s History of Education Program, said the school can avoid becoming a factory for like-minded militants by encouraging students to raise questions about national security.

“I would be deeply troubled if this school existed to propagate the White House’s view of national security — not that the White House is wrong — but the job of an educator is to teach kids to critique the policy of the state,” he said.

The Homeland Security program started this fall, but the school plans to host local and state government officials at an official opening today.

Since its launch in August, students have taken a field trip to the U.S. Coast Guard’s cutter and taken quizzes on the wildfires in California.

About 110 students expressed interest in signing up, and 61 10th-graders — 38 male and 23 female — were selected.

“We are really hoping to hook into even the average students to give them something interesting and increase their achievement,” said Leah Beaulieu, program adviser.

kvolkmann@baltimoreexaminer.com

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