The world needs firefighters, too

Within the education establishment, it's taken as an article of faith that schools should face budget cuts only after all other options have been exhausted. How about public safety? That's the debate playing out in Prince George's County, Maryland, a big Washington suburb now facing a massive budget shortfall. County leaders would like to spend less money on schools this year than is required by state law. "In a crisis like this, all of us must share the burden," said the County Executive. "This is absolutely critical for the totality of the well-being of our county." Ironically, he had to plead his case before the State Board of Education, which has jurisdiction over the matter. Not surprisingly, the district superintendent disagrees, fretting about an "adverse impact on the school system's ability to progress." It's true that PG County's schools have made big gains in recent years, and it would be a shame to see the momentum stall. But then again, unfought fires and unpoliced neighborhoods aren't so great, either.

"County Pits Schools Against Safety," by Nelson Hernandez, Washington Post, April 28, 2009

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