Sunday, February 23, 2020

Nothing Wrong with Snow Days

Amidst the snowy winter of 2019-20, some school districts in Colorado are facing the possibility of needing to extend their calendar beyond the already established end date because of the large number of snow days and snow delays they've already used. The only reason they might be required to adjust the school year is because of the federal mandate that a "school year" consist of 1080 contact hours for students. Specifically the large school districts in Douglas County, JeffCo, and Cherry Creek may need to add days.

And that is simply a bunch of nonsense. 

In Illinois, numerous school districts made news last year by effectively eliminating the occurrence of snow days by mandating that on weather emergency days, students still "attend" and complete lessons via digital platforms and online learning. For example, the school district of Peoria approved Snow Day E-Learning, during which students will complete online assignments or take home packets according to the choice of their parents. That "choice" is necessary for the simple reality that not all families and students can be assumed to have internet access. Additionally, during snow events internet service could be disrupted. So, the Illinois State Board has approved allowing five "learn from home days" in the event of weather emergencies.

And that is also simply a bunch of nonsense.

Everyone in and out of public education knows, or should know, that "seat time" in schools is an entirely arbitrary number, and nothing is guaranteed by presence in or out of the classroom. Many students actually need more than the allotted time to learn while many other students could master standards and complete curricula in far less than the standard of 175 or so "days of instruction." In reality, all of these decisions should be reserved for and decided by individual schools, or at least by the districts. It is the responsibility of the teachers and school administration to be accountable for the learning and to confirm and validate completion of a year of schooling. And no state boards should supersede that authority. And the federal Department of Education should have no input whatsoever.

There is nothing wrong with snow days or snow delays, time in the classroom is entirely arbitrary, schools and families should communicate with each other, and people far removed from the classroom should simply acknowledge how little they know about what's actually happening in the classroom.

Save snow days.

1 comment:

Ellen K said...

Seat time is a joke. Before I retired, kids would after Spring Break begging me to come an hour early or stay two hours late to supervise their making up of seat time. What's silly is that almost every one of them admit that they could have made it to school, but chose not to. These are often the same students who have plaintive missives sent to teachers on their behalf seeing if we can't make a miracle occur to get them to graduate. I honestly believe if we started allowing these children to fail as the result of bad decisions that perhaps they wouldn't be protesting having applied for student loans that they use for anything except education. I'm tired of contrived outcomes.