Schools Dazed-An Education Commentary

How long should the School Year be?

A year is a year is a year….but when should school begin and when should it end?  I come from an era, where school began the day after Labor Day and ended before Memorial Weekend.  I don’t know how many days we were actually in school…..but, I remember that our first break was Thanksgiving, which was two days, then came Christmas, 10 days IF we were lucky….. Then it was the LONG HAUL,  after that…no other time off.  I lived in a farming community, that was before the time of 24+ row corn pickers, 8 row was the biggie.  The farm boys got (or took) a week out during fall to harvest.  (Must have before lights on tractors)

What I hear, from National Educators, is that children FORGET, during the summer, what they’ve learned from the prior year, therefore, “we need to start earlier, and spend weeks this year,  reviewing last years work”….????  Also, “other counties children spend 6 days a week in class and more weeks (days) during the year, and that they are far more advanced than us”.  In truth what is being suggested is that we NEED to have year-round school……

I can remember every educational tour that we took in my first 12 years of school: Tour of a Ford Manufacturing Plant, Tour of the Chicago Sun Times, attended a showing of the movie “Old Yeller”, attended a showing of the movie “The Robe”, (boy, that would never happen today!!!), and a day trip to the Indiana General Assembly.  Can you count them, 6 things in 12 years!!!  I only recall seeing ONE movie, “The effects of smoking on lungs”, which included a lung removal!!!

I’ve got educators in my immediate and extended family, who won’t like this…but… we didn’t get/need or have time to watch movies, during class.  I think it means there isn’t enough material to teach until the last day.

We lived, for a time, in Minnesota, while our children were young.  At that time, Minnesota, was rated the number one (#1) state in primary education in the country, AND school never started before Labor Day, but ended around June 10th.  Upon being transferred to Indiana, our kids were two to three grades ahead of the their Indiana counterparts.  In Minnesota, students advanced in subjects by performance, so they might be in 2nd grade, doing 2nd grade social studies but participating in 3rd grade, math. In Indiana, the students moved together by grade.  After arriving in Indiana, often our kids were sent to the library to read a book, while the rest of the class studied a topic that our kids had already mastered; personally, I’d classify that as “dumbing down my kids”, while the other students caught up.  It wasn’t that the teachers were bad, it was that the “structure” couldn’t compensate for different levels of a topic mastered.

That being said, it seems there is WAY to much focus on being certain that EVERY one that goes into the education pipeline, comes out the other end looking identical.  I believe our economic situation causes two-parent families (this family unit is becoming a rarity), to both to work, JUST to keep (barely) afloat.  Therefore year round school becomes the caretaker of the unattended youth, either for the two working-parents or the single working parent.

Well, I came from a different era.  I had a FULL THREE months off in the summer…I’m from the generation, that created interstate highways, super-sonic travel, the first man on the moon, the internet, and on, and on.

And Minnesota?— they just passed a state law that requires 170 days of in-class time per year, interestingly, most of the Minnesota schools already have more in-class time than that.  And, Minnesota scores higher on ACT tests than any other state (Minnesota facts per WCCO TV-NEWS).  So, what does this mean???……..Think about it….

Maybe it’s not how long you go to school, but how you teach.

Maybe a lot of the national education rest not upon what you teach, but who you teach?  I know a lot of people will disagree with me (what’s new?)…..but, “Why do we spend so much time teaching someone who doesn’t want to learn?”  Why require someone to go to school until they are 16 and be taught, EXACTLY the same subjects that EVERYONE else it taught?   Maybe rather than geometry,  we should test for INTERESTS and then focus on that, like maybe auto mechanics, construction, plumbing, etc.  Why does everyone NEED to come out of 12 years of school looking the same?

When speaking of the U.S. children falling behind other countries, are we comparing similar educational pipelines, or do they “separate” by motivated child?  Do only the brightest and best move on for “higher learning” courses?

Ok, so you REALLY want a longer school year, be truthful about it, you need a “baby sitter” to watch your kids while you preform you professional responsibilities.  The NEA and the teacher’s unions want year round school.  Just be truthful!!  Don’t be making an excuse that a broken 9 month educational program will be better by making it a 12 month broken educational program………………

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About tgriggs17

Retired, CPA, enjoy freshwater fishing, being with my grandchildren, friends and family
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