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Back to School Already?


Students and teachers everywhere are slowly being shocked back to reality by the inevitable Back-to-School ads. In some places, though, classes for the new school year have already begun. In the South, the school year generally starts earlier than the rest of the country, while districts in Indiana, North Carolina, and other places are instituting year-round schooling.

The changes are designed to ease overcrowding or allow more continuous instruction to improve students’ retention of what they’ve learned.

But not all students are cooperating, and even some parents are spurning the changes.

In Indianapolis, for instance, hundreds of students failed to show up for classes at Marshall Middle School, according to this news report. The school doors at Marshall, and two other schools in the district, opened this week a month ahead of time under a new year-round schedule.

On the first day of school, less than a third of 620 registered students reported to Marshall. The next day 275 kids showed up.

School officials are calling parents and visiting homes to coax students back to school.

In North Carolina, there have been mixed reactions to new year-round schedules for some schools. Many Wake County parents had protested a plan for mandatory year-round school in some parts of the district, while Durham County parents generally approved of the approach, according to ongoing coverage in the Raleigh News & Observer. Even so, year-round schools in both districts had large numbers of absentees in the first days of school.

I wonder if the students and their parents were simply unaware of the early start, or if they are consciously playing hooky. When students do get to class, they will have missed the initial lessons and will be have to make up the work or risk falling behind.

It begs the question: If you build it, will they come? If you add time to the school day, or school year, or change the schedule to close the summer gap, will the students even show up? And will they have their thinking caps on?

What do you think?


I use most of the summer for assorted structured and unstructured professional development. So far I've set up a wiki, constructed a course outline, read and discussed educational issues through my Google Reader, attended a podcasting workshop...I intersperse research with recreation and reading, my 3 Rs. If I only had a short break at the end of the school year, I'd never have the leisure to explore and grow in my career.

Perhaps the students would be ready to resume after an abbreviated hiatus, but I wouldn't have nearly as much to offer them.

Wake County, NC is not the only place in the country where growth is abundant. But due to insufficient planning by the school system, and an unwillingness to budge from their targets for diversity of socio-economic status, families are having to pay the price. The school system here has even assigned different kids in the same household to different high schools. It is a mess. If you're thinking about moving here, look before you leap.

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