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Friday, September 2, 2016

New school start date misses the correct educational change

Capitol Gazette

      With the Governor proposing an after Labor Day school start next year the discussion of how to schedule school is once again being examined. The later school date seems unrelated to any educational benefit but is tied more to businesses, especially at the shore, hanging onto their high school students longer.  Attendance at the Maryland State Fair should also go up with the later start date.  Additionally the reduced need for school closings for non air conditioned class rooms has also been mentioned.  This year that has been a problem for some schools in Baltimore County.
     When you factor in the requirement of a school closing date of no later than June 15th the number of teacher days and other school breaks seem to be the only other way to still get in the mandatory 180 school days.  These have been sacrosanct to school personnel and families.  You can be sure that any change in the school calendar will not be supported by teachers or school personnel.
     I have to say that the later start date has always made sense to me.  I always looked at how the beach rental rates would start dropping as much as 2 weeks before Labor Day as families could not rent those weeks.  I bet the owners of beach rentals will love the new start date and keep their rates up longer.
     So now that the start and closing dates for schools is being changed isn't it time to take a more comprehensive look at how school scheduling impacts educational achievement?  Isn't this really more important than some economic benefit?  This gets back to examining year around school calendars rather than continuing to follow the outdated summer break calendar.   The calendar was designed back in a different time of our Country that may no longer be relevant today.  What is still relevant is that the longer the time of school breaks the more learning that is lost and has to be retaught.  This is particularly true for students from low income families who can't afford programs that provide some educational enrichment activities.
     Here is the case for year around school.

      I bet the teachers union will try to get the legislature to over rule this change in the upcoming session.  There is already some questioning by those opposed to this order that the Governor doesn't have the authority to make this change.


edblisa said...

Personally, I'm glad for the mandate. I have never understood why they changed it in the first place and it created a battle then. If the MSDE is claiming "brain drain" from having a longer vacation, I think that they need to start addressing the problem of too many days off DURING the school year. NUMEROUS 4 day weeks and NUMEROUS 1/2 days off cause more distraction and disruption to the student and are more difficult for the working parents than having a hard start/end date. As it is now, I don't know how any learning gets done. Getting any local school district to voluntarily do something these days is more painful than pulling teeth without anesthesia, therefore the executive order. Really, could you imagine how much money would be spent by the HoCo BoEd on study after study after study, year after year after year....and then they still wouldn't take action ( teen sleep cycles and the early HS start time). Elected officials want to keep their jobs so they don't want to potentially tee off their voters, which leads to them doing the least amount of decision making. I think this executive order is a win-win for all students, parents, teachers AND the economy and I'm glad that the Hogan/Franchot team is committed to making it happen.

bosoxbrent said...

I completely agree with edblisa here. Very well stated.

I will say the number of "service days" has gotten out of control. My girls aren't in school yet, but I often talk with my wife about the insane challenges of how working parents get all that time off from work to deal with these one-off service days sprinkled throughout the calendar with no rhyme or reason.

I also think the days off for religious holidays are getting out of control too. Schools just need to give the kids and staff who celebrate these holidays an excused absence on these days. Done deal. There is absolutely no need to shut down a whole school system for a day over a religious holiday that a small minority of the population celebrates.

I'm glad to see some bi-partisan work being done by Hogan and Franchot to come up with some executive orders that make sense for the general public.