Seniors Matt Yalowitz, Sarah Thibadeau and Annie Peirce spoke in support of the community service requirement at the hearing before the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
The bill would allow local school systems to let students choose to volunteer as an elective.
Peirce explained that the three students rallied against the bill in part because they created a mentoring program called Montgomery Ultimate Story Exchange (MUSE) to fulfill a community service requirement but extended it after satisfying the requirement.
"We had so much fun and got so much out of it that we continued for three more years after our requirements were completed. That is the idea behind community service: that the requirement will force high-schoolers to look around for opportunities to volunteer, find something they enjoy and then continue even after their required hours are complete," said Pierce.
In MUSE, Blair students mentor their counterparts at Pine Crest Elementary School in creative writing via email.
Senator Bob Kittleman, the lead sponsor of the bill, argued that service programs waste instructional time.
"While I see the value in promoting community service amongst young people, I do not think that their education should suffer as a result of it. The classroom is a place for students to learn. Teachers already are pressed to sufficiently prepare students in these topics, and they resent the classroom time that is taken up with this program," he said.
The bill is supported by the Maryland Parent Teacher Association, which wants local school systems, not the state, to control community service.
Nina Feinberg. Nina Feinberg is a CAP senior who enjoys <i>Silver Chips</i> almost as much as she enjoys pie. Mmmm, pie. More »