Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Longer or Just Different School Year

My school generally starts school during the week of August 20, has a one-week fall break in October, a two-week winter break in December, a one-week spring break in March, and lets out for summer by June 7.  It's quite a nice schedule - especially the addition of the fall break.  When I first moved to Colorado and discovered "fall break," I thought it was the greatest invention in the history of school schedules.  After nine or ten weeks to kick off the year, a week around Halloween was the perfect time to recharge.  I can't imagine ever going back to a "shorter" school year that starts around Labor Day and gets out by the end of May, but has shorter breaks during the year.  Summer is long enough as it is, and the quarterly breaks are great.

Now, as more school districts consider changes to the traditional schedule, decisions about breaks are beginning to drive the discussion.  That said, I am no fan of year-round school, and I am opposed to blanket statements that we simply need a longer school year.  However, a shorter summer break with extended fall, winter, and spring breaks makes all the sense in the world.  Summer vacation is a time-honored tradition in American culture, and it is one that should remain.  Summer is a time for extended camps and summer employment, leisure time and more athletic opportunities.  While we currently have one-week breaks in the spring and fall, I would gladly lop three weeks off the summer on either side, and take two weeks in fall, two weeks in spring, and three in the winter.  That would still leave eight or more solid weeks in the summer.

Nothing wrong with that.

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