Our View: Ideas deserve considerations
August 23, 2008
Craig — Summer holds a kind of mystique in the United States. It’s a time for children to be children, parents to use up their paid vacation time, and families to head off to Disneyland or a camping trip.
It’s that magical three-month-long break for children from having to pretend to be little adults, who have to wake up early, go somewhere they may not want to be, and do whatever their boss (i.e. teacher) tells them.
Yet, do the three-straight months off benefit the students or does the time hurt them? That’s a question worth exploring further.
There are some schools in Colorado and across the country that have switched to year-round school calendars. We think this is an idea that warrants consideration for Moffat County School District.
If you ask any teacher, principal or even student, they will tell you that the first two weeks and practically the last month of the school year are spent either catching up on what the students forgot or getting ready to head out for the year. These are very unproductive times, when not much learning or significant progress is achieved.
However, there may be a way to prevent this without sacrificing overall vacation time.
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A number of different models exist for a year-round school program. It can involve going to school for two months, then having two weeks off, with that cycle happening throughout the year, or going to school for three months, then having one month off, with quarterly vacations. And those are only two options for that type of system.
What can be gained from this is a year-round focus on learning and retaining knowledge; it would eliminate that summer brain-drain, which necessitates a two-week (or more) remedial period at the beginning of the traditional school year.
The amount of instruction time would not change. The amount of vacation time would not change. It would just be staggered more and spread out through the year, rather than split between nine and three months.
Our aim in writing this editorial is to start a dialogue on the topic. That dialogue should be focused on what’s best for the students and allowing them to learn, not what’s best schedule-wise for parents and teachers.
We all want what’s best for our children. This is one dialogue that has to be focused on them.
A number of schools that have sprung up around Colorado (yes, the dreaded charter schools) have taken up year-round school. Also, there have been many public school districts that are exploring the option or looking at alternative scheduling.
If properly instituted, these schedules can benefit everyone. Parents have more options for when to take a vacation. Teachers will have more and longer breaks throughout the school year, not just one really long break.
There also is the opportunity for the school district to consider re-aligning its calendar with the traditional calendar year, or other potentially innovative scheduling ideas. It would prevent school buildings from sitting empty for three-straight months, with skeleton staff, who may or may not notice when problems arise.
This is also an idea that could bring real change to the district without costing lots of extra money. Too often we try to solve problems by throwing money at them without any real innovation. This could be a chance to break out of that cycle.
Right now we can’t say this idea is the best plan for Moffat County School District. What we can say is that it deserves consideration and dialogue by all involved parties.