I teach high-school English in real life and the number of snow days we’ve had this month (four) and the number of people complaining about going to school deeper in June (many) has me thinking.
I’m in the school-should-go-year-round camp. In my experience, as a student and educator, the big summer break is not conducive to educational continuity. To put it more plainly: the kids (and teachers) get stupid over the summer. They don’t read, they don’t write; and the result is a lot of reteaching, a lot of review and a lot of forgetting what came before.
“Mr. Greene, what’s a thesis statement?”
“Dude, you learned that last year. And the year before.”
“Did not.” (Did, too.)
It never fails. Here’s my solution, especially since most of the youth of today are no longer helping out on the farm: Year-Round High School. Break the year into four quarters, conveniently, One, Two, Three and Four. Give the kids a two- or, more likely, three-week recuperation break between each one. Arrange the schedule so the winter break comes in January, when a lot of the Latino kids take that long trip back to their native countries (I forget what it’s called). A long January break also will save school districts money in heating. Set the summer break for July, to save AC costs. Make sure the kids have, at the very least, reading assigned for the next quarter.
Teachers are going to say this schedule doesn’t leave them much time for professional development, so here’s the plan. Teachers will be required to take one of the quarters off and apply that time to getting better at their jobs. To keep all the teachers from rushing to take the summer off, set up a weighted lottery system. Personally, I’d rather have time off in the fall.
Wait, there’s more. Extend the school day, but only make kids go Monday through Thursday. On Friday, youths will be required to do internships, community service, or learn something in some other way (online?). Teachers, on Fridays, will have to be in the building but can do their professional development stuff, plan amazing lessons, prep for team-teaching, etc.
We can get fancier if need be. Give kids more flexibility in picking their schedules so they can come in late, or leave earlier. Give teachers the opportunity to work a later shift for the students who want or need later classes.
Oh, and as far as snow days go, create a system that will allow teachers and students to work together online during those periods of inclement weather.
Go. Call your Congressional representative and local school boards.