Monday, August 3, 2015

Year-Round School?

A few weeks ago Bob Edwards suggested that I write a post on some of the ins and outs of year-round school. I am not an expert on school and the pros and cons of having the students go year-round with more breaks rather than have a long summer break. But I am a blogger, and I can give my opinion on anything. Right? I have had a bit of experience in education, twenty four years as a student, and thirty three as a teacher and coach, so my opinion is not totally uninformed.

There are a number of arguments in favor of year-round school. These include having shorter breaks throughout the year that are supposed to help retention of information, keeping kids off the streets during the long hot summers, and providing a place for working parents to put their children. Given the current cultural situation in the country, those could be compelling reasons. School districts around the country have instituted year-round school, in the elementary schools at least, and the results seem to be positive. When the students get to the upper grades though, there are a number of factors that I believe will hinder a broader use of a longer school year.

In a lot of areas of the country, particularly those whose economy runs on tourism, the businesses depend on a supply of teenagers who are on summer break to fill their openings. Some states have pushed back the start of the school year in order to allow those students to work the entire tourist season. The economic benefits of a long summer break would be awfully hard for those areas to give up. When I was coaching, one of the big benefits of a summer break was the opportunity to go to summer camps at colleges. These colleges were also on their summer break, so they could concentrate on the camps, which are a great recruiting tool as well as allowing the teams to work on their skills. A shorter summer break might not affect that so much, but longer breaks during the school year would make scheduling athletic seasons very interesting. In some areas of the country, sports such as football or basketball are nearly a religion, and one tinkers with that at great risk.   

It seems that a large part of American culture is built around  a school year that begins in mid to late August or September and runs until the end of May or middle of June. I think it can work in the lower grades, and possibly in the upper grades as well, but I'm not sure the majority of the people in the country are ready for the adjustments it would cause.

Just my thoughts. What do you think?


KC Bob said...

Great analysis Fred. I shared on Facebook in hopes of engaging a few of my teaching friends.

Fred Shope said...

Thanks Bob!

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