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Posted at 11:31 AM ET, 12/ 2/2009

A teachable moment for and about the Secret Service

By Valerie Strauss

I’m feeling a little sorry for the Secret Service.

Every second of every day its agents put their lives on the line to protect our federal officials and, out of nowhere, up comes a super tall, super thin, super blond woman to a White House state dinner and is allowed in by Secret Service agents even though she and her husband aren’t on the official guest list.

Scandal ensues. Michaele and Tareq Salahi become household names (actually I had to look them up; I know them only as “the gate crashers”). The reputation of the Secret Service is sullied.

One presumes that this case is being added to the “what not to do list” at the Secret Service training academy during its 17-week Special Agent Training Course (which, according to the website, focuses on specific policies and procedures associated with investigations and protection). And I can imagine a new simulated training scenario during the advanced training that agents receive during their careers. (I wonder who will play Michaele Salahi.)

Why is this in an education blog, you ask? Because I'm interested in it, of course. And being the Answer Sheet, I’m seeing a good educational opportunity.

To prevent further decay of the agency’s fine reputation, talk to your kids--at home or in class--about the job the Secret Service performs. You can refer to the service’s website, with its handy list of questions for kids.

It tells them, for example, that if they want to join the service one day, they should know that agents use skills in subject areas including science, computer science, law and government, math, reading comprehension, writing, foreign languages and public speaking.

There are also answers to such things as:

*What is it like to be a Secret Service agent?
*What do I have to do to become a Secret Service agent?
*Why do agents agree to sacrifice their lives for the sake of saving the President?
*Who are the people in uniform at the White House gates?
*Has anyone ever been shot while guarding the President?
*Why do agents seem to always wear sunglasses?
*What is it like to carry a gun?
*What kind of training do agents get?

Go ahead. Take a look. You want to know about those sunglasses too, don’t you?

For more on Education, please see http://washingtonpost.com/education

By Valerie Strauss  | December 2, 2009; 11:31 AM ET
Tags:  White House gatecrashers  
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Comments

Here's a teachable moment about the Secret Service: those guys in UNIFORM at the White House gate, the ones who check guest lists, they aren't called "Agents." They are officers of the Secret Service Uniformed Division.

And let's just say that hiring standards for the Uniformed Division are just a little lower than for Agents.

Posted by: DupontJay | December 3, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

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