"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.