Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Isn't It Time For Year Round School

"Enjoying" my 6th SNOW DAY of the year and had some time to think. And I kept coming back to the same idea, wouldn't it be nice if we had the months of December, January & February of instead of June, July & August. Don't get me wrong, I love the summer; and would much rather have that time "off" instead of Dec-Feb; but it leads me to the bigger question of, why do students and teachers have three continuous months off anyway?

It's amazing that in the year 2010 most schools in the US are still operating in a 1910 (or maybe better yet, 1950) paradigm in regards to how they approach scheduling. Whether it is the scheduling of classes (check out my earlier blog, Let's Do What Is Best For Kids) or the scheduling of the school year. I mean, haven’t we moved beyond the agrarian calendar? Living in Iowa I appreciate the hard work farmers subject themselves and their families to, but really, how many students are required by their parents to milk cows daily, contribute to the planting and harvesting of crops, or maintenance of the farm in general. Aren’t we far past due for a revision in the school calendar?

To me it makes sense to change. Change to some sort of system in which students are in school year round. Detracters might say: you’ll burn students out . . . you’re going to have to pay teachers more . . . it costs more to cool than heat (really?!?) . . . what about family vacations . . . how will you conduct sports/extra curriculars when school’s not in session . . . and on and on and on.

I’m with Sec. of Ed. Arnie Duncan, I think it’s time we start to evaluate the school calendar. Almost a year ago he was quoted: "It doesn't matter how poor, how tough the family background, socioeconomic challenges," Duncan said. "Where students have longer days, longer weeks, longer years -- that's making a difference." Additionally, in the globalized world that we live in, students around the world are coming to school earlier and staying later, and this “extra time” has translated to better scores, better colleges, and better jobs. It’s time Americas schools do something about this.

In addition wouldn't year-round schooling change the negative perceptions some parents/community members have of teachers and the teaching profession in general. I mean, even my dad thinks that I'm robbing my community of its tax dollars because I only work 9 months out of the year. I think year round schooling would go a long way towards rebuilding the lack of professionalism wrap many teachers face nation wide.

So, whether it is transforming the 180 day/9 month school calendar into a 180 day/12 month calendar or trashing the 180/9 calendar and instituting a 210/12 to increase teaching and learning for students and teachers, the time is now.

1 comment:

  1. I truly believe it's about transforming the educational philosophy of "SEAT TIME". Get your education when you need it in chunks as you need it and if you need to take a break - then education is there for you when you get back.

    At CAM I've convinced most teachers to let at -risk students have "incompletes" at semester and we focus on getting them that credit before worrying about 2nd semester. It's working but I still have a couple of teachers who want to flunk and move on.

    The Iowa Core, on one hand, is favorable for this as they break things up into essential skills. But then on the other hand the state is still about Carnegie Units and Seat Time...uggg.