School Daze

Is learning going on when it's still summer?

 know times have changed since I was in school.

But the idea of going to school...and sitting through classes (some of which, truth to tell, aren't that exciting to begin with) when the temperatures are still close to 90 degrees, doesn't make sense.

By the end of this coming week, classes will have resumed in every school district in our area. And we will still be a week away from the end of August.

In 17 years of school (including college), my siblings and I never went back to school earlier than September 1. Only once did classes begin before Labor Day.  And I'm talking about school districts in two different states.  Sure, there was a chance the weather could still get hot in September (no one used the words "global warming" back then), but the chance was a lot less than if we had to go back to the books in August.

Why does school begin now as early as mid-August?  I'm told a lot of it has to do with state guidelines requiring a certain number of days of public instruction, and also requiring school to be over for the year by a certain date.  And, thanks to legislation approved in West Virginia a couple of years ago, school officials now have more "flexibility" to set school calendars. Translated, that means they can begin classes earlier, in anticipation of having to close them on certain days in the winter.

I agree in principle that students need to be in school a certain part of the year, but I'm not sure that results in better-educated students. Getting them to turn off the video games and hit the books would be a better way (although I should say it wasn't always easy getting me away from the TV), as would emphasizing things other than sports.  But I realize that's easier said than done.

The Ohio Legislature may consider a law requiring school to begin no earlier than Labor Day, but I'm not sure that's an answer, either.  Perhaps superintendents should find out exactly how much "learning" goes on in the weeks leading up to mid-September, and set their calendars accordingly.  Or perhaps they should look at how many "off-days" are really needed during the year. Or perhaps they should consider how much money is being spent on air conditioning (for those buildings which, in fact, are air-conditioned) to educate youngsters and keep them focused.

Or is that too much common sense?


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