Editor's Note (The View From Here
- By Deborah P. Moore
- September 1st, 2016
Time for a change? It’s September
and everyone is finally back to
school, While many parents are celebrating,
some are asking the question… “why the
long summer breaks versus year-round school?”
This is a debate that has been going on for as long
as I can remember. As we talk about learning being
24/7, the phasing out of the Carnegie Unit in favor
of mastery, and the changes we are seeing in teaching and learning, we
also need to talk about the school calendar. The traditional school calendar
was developed for the agrarian age, which made sense at the time.
Unfortunately, that time has passed and we need to decide if keeping
with the traditional school calendar is about learning – or logistics.
Critics contend that research on the academic benefits of year-round
education is inconclusive and that extracurricular programs will suffer.
Supporters contend that shorter times away from school will improve
student retention, eliminating the need to reteach for weeks after a long
summer break. They believe remediation can occur, when needed, during
the school year — not as a “punishment” forcing a student to go to
summer school. The same is true for enrichment programs.
In our August e-newsletter we asked the question, “Is it a school’s
job to address not only what happens in the classroom, but also social
and economic issues in the community?” A majority of you who
answered our poll said “yes.” If that is what we truly believe, we need
to encourage disadvantaged communities to consider year-round and
community schools for the sake of their students and their families.
While opportunities exist for those in the middle-class for out-of-school
learning activities, the same is not true for students living in poverty.
Schools provide them with a safe place, a hot meal and activities to keep
them engaged. For many of these students, summer is time lost.
Year-round education also affects space planning and school
facilities. Depending on the district’s year-round plan (45-15, 60-20
and 90-30) and if they operate single-track or multi-track, building
use can be optimized to help relieve overcrowding and serve more
students. Plus… school buildings don’t need a summer vacation,
except for the summer maintenance and construction projects.
With all of the changes we have seen in the past few years in educational
delivery and school design, we would be remiss if we did not
look at the school calendar again. Making a change may feel like moving
a mountain, but I can’t imagine 24/7 or life-long learning with the
tagline “except for the months of June, July and August.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.