|Would you support a year-round school schedule?|
I knew it was coming because they told us it was coming, yet still I was unprepared for it despite my preparations to speak out against it.
The school district here called a board meeting and parents and community members were given a public shout-out to come and attend if they wanted to voice their opinions on all-day school. It's something the school clearly wants to push forward and implement...of that much I am certain.
What I was not certain of, is how much support or lack thereof that that board would get from parents. Turns out there were mild objections, a lot of support, and well...me. ;)
I fully support the children being home all summer long. I understand the pros and cons of the students being in school year-round, but I think they need a real break, not just spotty here and there breaks throughout the year. One of the great things about being a child is summer vacation!!!
Countless studies have shown that during summer break, a large number of students lose academic ground, or experience the dreaded 'summer slide.' That extended break time has also been cited as a huge contributor to the achievement gap between lower-income students and their higher-income peers. It has even been blamed for childhood obesity (with the finger being pointed at lazy summers leading to inactivity...leading to weight gain).
I understand too, that funding for schools is oft times directly related to how well students perform on standardized testing. That means the learning drag from time off can be, well... a drag as teachers have their hands forced to reiterate material taught the (school) year before, prior to being able to move on to content that is new.
|Kids need time to play!|
Those points and more, resonate with me clearly, but...
My concerns are:
Burnout for the students. I think there is a huge potential, with a year-long school schedule, for students to just plain burn out. Burnout can lead to things like complacency. Right now the kids look forward to going back to school, after their summer break is over. That, I suspect, is in no small part directly related to the fact that they had a nice healthy break from it.
Burnout for the teachers. Most of my academic career was spent in higher ed. administration...but when we moved to the state we live in now, those positions in our rural community were scarce so I did a stint in the public schools. One thing the teachers very much looked forward to, was the time to regroup and refresh over the summer break.
The school I worked for was in large part for challenged academic youth (or a large number of students who had been kicked out of one or more other public schools and were at the end of their rope for finding places to go). The teachers cared for the students immensely (we had a wonderful group of teachers!) but a lot of work went into teaching those kids, and just as much work went into the emotional requirements it took to do so effectively. By the end of the school year, a nice long break was truly needed.
Money. Funding for the schools is always stretching the rubberband to its limit as is, so with a year-round budget, fiscal considerations have to be put on the table. State and local legislators balance their budgets based on a 9-month schedule, and it's already tight, to say the least. How can 12 months be eeked out of an already straining money line, without someone having to pay the price (literally and figuratively speaking)? I could go on and on, but it's pretty self-explanatory how a domino effect could take place in so many directions with this one, so I'll move on.
Personal Preference. Maybe it is a deeply embedded cultural norm for me, but I like summer break. I like the kids home; appreciate their lack of a tight schedule; and enjoy the free time we have for things like playing and vacation time. Those are all things I cherished in my youth, and all things my children cherish now in their own.
Please do not misconstrue what I say to mean I do not support our local schools and the decisions they make. I am an avid supporter of our district, and a huge proponent of education in general. My concerns for academic achievement run long and strong, but I am equally a proponent of time to rest. Summer vacation allows that for the teachers, the administrators, the students, and the parents too. For all of the reasons stated above, and more, I would hate to see that go.
My preference is now voiced and known, however little that might mean in the large scheme of things. We'll see how it all goes, and of course, we'll conform to the changes if we must, and willingly so, because that's what parents do. I am hoping beyond hope though, that the proposal gets shot down, and things remain, as far as the scheduling of the academic calendar goes, as they are today.
Do you have, or would you support school year-round in your district?