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Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

To re­search that shows fire­fight­ers serve their com­mu­ni­ties with a greater risk of de­vel­op­ing can­cer or res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases. The Jour­nal of Oc­cu­pa­tional and En­vi­ron­men­tal Medicine re­ports the risk of tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is 102 per­cent higher among fire­fight­ers com­pared to the pop­u­la­tion on the whole. The risk of mul­ti­ple myeloma and non-Hodgkins lym­phoma is more than 50 per­cent higher than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. A 2010 study by the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health, which sur­veyed more than 30,000 fire­fight­ers, found higher num­bers of di­ges­tive, res­pi­ra­tory, oral and uri­nary can­cers. Be­cause of their ex­po­sure to asbestos, fire­fight­ers have twice the risk of mesothe­lioma, a rare can­cer con­nected to asbestos ex­po­sure. Fire­fight­ers 65 and younger also showed higher num­bers of blad­der and prostate can­cer. A 2005 study of Florida fire­fight­ers found an in­creased risk of mor­tal­ity for men from breast, blad­der and thy­roid can­cers. There was also a noted in­crease in the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease mor­tal­ity among fe­male fire­fight­ers. Count re­tired deputy state fire mar­shal Joe Zurolo Sr., a mem­ber of Singerly Fire Com­pany, among those who likely have ser­vice-re­lated ill­nesses, as he was di­ag­nosed with COPD. We owe it to our first re­spon­ders to study the prob­lem and de­velop so­lu­tions to mit­i­gate as many of these risks as pos­si­ble.

To the news that about 40 per­cent of county high school se­niors will find them­selves en­rolled in re­me­dial classes on Mon­day be­cause they’re not con­sid­ered ready for col­lege. Even though these stu­dents may have passed English and math classes their en­tire school ca­reer, a new state law that goes into ef­fect this school year says these stu­dents aren’t col­lege-ready un­less they’ve hit a cer­tain score on one of a va­ri­ety of stan­dard­ized tests. The goal of the law is to de­crease the num­ber of Mary­land stu­dents who find them­selves test­ing into re­me­dial classes once they set foot on a col­lege cam­pus — forc­ing them to spend ex­tra time and money try­ing to catch up. A 2013 study by the Mary­land De­part­ment of Leg­isla­tive Ser­vices found that about 58 per­cent of com­mu­nity col­lege stu­dents and about one-third of stu­dents at four-year col­leges need re­me­dial classes in at least one sub­ject. County school of­fi­cials have be­moaned the lack of time to pre­pare for the new re­quire­ments, but we won­der what is the big­ger un­der­ly­ing cause. Is the style of the test’s ques­tions un­fa­mil­iar with these stu­dents, or are they not able to com­pre­hend the sub­ject mat­ter? While stu­dents will have to take re­me­dial classes and re­take the test, they won’t be re­quired to pass the stan­dards for grad­u­a­tion. Mean­while, we hope that ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials at the lo­cal and state level in­ves­ti­gate how to de­crease the per­cent­age of re­me­dial stu­dents for fu­ture years.

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