Right Law – Wrong Reason


Maybe not the wrong wrong reason, but not the main one either.  Don’t get me wrong, I love extending the school year, but I think it should be extended for other reasons:

Raleigh, N.C. — State lawmakers are considering a bill that would give local school boards more flexibility with when to start and end the school year.

House Bill 94 would repeal a 2004 law that requires districts to begin the school year after Aug. 25 and end it no later than June 10.

Under the proposed legislation, schools operating on a traditional calendar schedule would be able to open any time after Aug. 15.  The bill does not apply to schools operating on a year-round calendar.

Supporters of changing the law point to issues like a high number of snow days, especially in the western part of the state, and the challenge in making those up to meet the 180 days of school mandated by state law.

They’re right.  Snow days have been a massive problem here.  And with Global Warming creating more and more snow days here, it’s only gonna get worse.

However, I still think that we should extend the school year because it helps kids learn and quit pandering to tourism.

The 2004 legislation was the result of a group of business owners and parents who, in part, were concerned about how extending the school calendar into the summer months could affect local tourism economies.

Businesses at North Carolina tourist destinations depend on the summer months to boost their profits, and business owners say every week of the tourism season is critical.

Teaching our kids is critical.

 

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5 comments
  1. I’ve heard all the arguments, and I still don’t buy the longer school year. We had an even shorter one when I was in the public schools, and most of us did pretty damn well. I don’t believe the longer year is going to make anyone smarter.

    • pino said:

      We had an even shorter one when I was in the public schools, and most of us did pretty damn well. I don’t believe the longer year is going to make anyone smarter.

      I tend to think that the more a person does a thing, the better that person becomes at that thing. When we shorten the school year to the point that it is, and then continue to diminish that instruction time through shorter days, I’m afraid that kids WILL eventually under perform.

      Smarter? Maybe not. Know more? Almost certainly.

      Yet I still do not embrace becoming more like them.

      True. The Chinese go to way more school than we do. 6 days a week for 10+ hours a day. They dominate us in technical skills. However, as you mentioned, they produce drastically less creative thinkers.

      The lesson is that families that continue trying to promote reading, learning, etc. during summer actually make a huge difference.

      Yes, I agree. In fact, Freakonomics had a great piece there as well. Just by having books in the house, kids did better in school. Parents didn’t even have to read to ’em.

      Glad you stopped by teach….

  2. Here in Maine we have a “suggested last day of school” for public schools. For us it’s June 10th. But every year it’s extended due to snow days, sometimes to June 20th or so. We start at the end of August.

    The US has a much shorter school year than most advanced industrialized countries, and most of them out perform the US. Most other states also have more control from the central government, the US decentralizes education control to localities. Yet I still do not embrace becoming more like them. First, I think in general children really need time for creative play. If everything is school plus a structured activity, that important time to just have fun and not conform to anothers’ rules is diminished. I find that hard to juggle sometimes — so my seven year old has skiing on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I cut swim lessons so he can have time. So many people seem to overstructure kids’ lives.

    Also, Malcolm Gladwell’s book *Outliers* showed how children tended to learn the same during the school year. Top performers would return in the fall, however, knowing more than they did when school ended. If families saw summer as pure ‘vacation,’ kids fell behind. That would be reinforced each year. The lesson is that families that continue trying to promote reading, learning, etc. during summer actually make a huge difference.

  3. Henry said:

    There are different reasons for extending the school year, but show me how more days in school translates to more instructional time. I do not want to just give kids more time in school, I want a way to give the students more quality instructional time.
    There are two problems with longer school years. First, the curriculum is rarely strengthened, it is simply stretched out. The same material is covered in a longer time period. This may be helpful for the slower learners, but it does so at the expense of the faster learners. The other problem is the increased costs of longer school years. There is a solution to both of these problems if we are willing to look outside of the box. Let’s cut ten days from the standard school year and add class just one day a week all summer. The summer lessons would likely be supplemented with online research, worksheets and assessments. The summer classes would introduce new material. Since the students have an entire week between classes, there would be opportunity for rigorous assignments that require considerable reading and thoughtful consideration. The student’s homework would not be easy, it would definitely be more challenging than the school work our young people are accustomed to doing, but this would help build skills that create self directed learners. Since the kids would still have 180 days of school per year, the cost to the school districts would be about the same as they currently spend.

    • pino said:

      There are different reasons for extending the school year, but show me how more days in school translates to more instructional time. I do not want to just give kids more time in school, I want a way to give the students more quality instructional time.

      Fair enough; and valid. I want to extend the school year AND increase the curriculum.

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