As a teacher, I can say that the trend is moving toward year around schooling. In my school years, we had a solid 12 weeks of vacation. We did not start until after Labor Day and school was out by Memorial Day. In today’s world, State Legislatures have mandated longer “seat hour” requirements and have lowered the maximum number of absences allowed. The No Child Left Behind Act has made testing a priority, as we all know by now; however, the response by the states to increase the number of mandatory school days is something that is only going to get worse. In South Carolina they are trying to do away with mandatory seat hours and to eliminate unnecessary testing. Hopefully other states will follow this.
In the district I work for, we already have 2 schools that are on a year around schedule. The state I grew up in is now seriously looking at year around schools as mandatory for all districts. The growing idea is that schools should start to accommodate certain schedules. For instance, if a students wants to come to school at 7a.m and be out by 2p.m., they can take “early bird” classes; or if a student wants to attend later, they can start at 10a.m. and be out at 5p.m. These type of sliding schedules lend themselves perfectly to year around conditions.
While I don’t agree that we should move to a year around school system, I think it is an inevitable conclusion in the near future. It is costing more and more for schools to run and by running shorter schedules, it will ultimately cost the district less. Also, less teachers are needed, which also helps budgets. Schools today are ran like businesses, not places of education, and the move to year around school is primarily a financial move. The educational system is in a state of transition, and really the upcoming election will determine the future of No Child Left Behind and the structural changes of the educational institution.
Parents need to become more active in the process of telling the legislatures how they want the systems set up. Parents have a lot more influence than I think they realize. Legislatures are not at a school or in the classroom on a daily basis and are out of touch with the modern problems of schools. Parents who have a vested interest in their children’s education need to be lobbying and asserting the positive changes needed. Year around schooling is one of those issues where parents can and should have their say with the district and government officials.