Friday, August 13, 2010

Thoughts About A Later School Start; Dare I Suggest a Shorter Calendar?

This week was filled with K-12 schools starting up around the metro area. This week was also featured 90 degree plus heat, the longest heat wave we've had in a decade.
Sen. Mike Delph has proposed a bill last session that would require schools to start after Labor Day. As someone who has always loved summer and remember schools always starting after Labor Day, I am repulsed by these schools that start school in early or mid-August. Those were the best days of the summer I remember. That young men and women are spending that tiem in class rather than out enjoying the summer is sad.

On the other end, we were always out before my birthday, May 26th. (Please mark your calendars. Gifts accepted.) The semester break also fell over Christmas...two weeks off for the holiday.

I don't buy for a second that June is as hot as August, by the way. I don't care that those average temperatures people cite reflect only a couple degrees difference. I have several decades of living in Indiana which say differently.

Oh, and I don't buy the "local control" argument either. Hoosiers overwhelmingly favor a later school start. It is clear that school boards on so many issues do whatever they want, often flipping the bird to public opinion. School districts are merely governmental subunits of the state. I have no problem with the General Assembly standing up for what people want by mandating a starting (and ending) date for a traditional school calendar.

I was in school in the 1970s. Since then the legislature has saw fit to add several days to the calendar. The story not being talked about during this debate is that those extra days screwed up the calendar. You can no longer start school after Labor Day and get a semester of 90 days in before the Christmas break. The 180 mandated days also inevitably pushes school into June unless you start by at least mid-August.

I am one of the few conservatives who does not buy the notion that our students are somehow failing because they don't spend enough time in school. I am far more concerned about the quality than quantity when it comes to education. In the right environment, I think students can learn even more in a fraction of the time.

Dare I suggest we rethink the calendar? Why not make the school day a little bit longer, and maybe allow a few training days or half days to count as full days? If you knocked 10 days off the calendar and made a few more adjustments that might be enough to have a Labor Day to Memorial Day calendar.

I have so many fond memories growing up in the hills of southeastern Indiana. So many of those memories involve summer activities, a time when I was not in school. We should not deprive children today of those memories.


Cato said...

How about we cancel public schools and let the private schools do what they want?

Marycatherine Barton said...

Home schooling is all the rage, and hated by the NWO advocates. Therefore, home school, if you can.

dcrutch said...

I agree that more days, especially in hot weather, does not represent an educational step forward. More time per day and particularly more quality in the hours we have seems appropriate. However, to stay globally competitive in crunched budget times means further deemphasis on athletics and the arts.

With what appears to be a larger Star Sports letters section, coinciding with fewer Editorial page letters on current events, what chance do see for a reemphasis on academics?