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Rethinking Summer Break


Anyone game for a longer school year? An op-ed published on washingtonpost.com argues that, for many children, summer vacation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense anymore. Author Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute, says the extended summer break is a relic of the 19th century—“when academic achievement mattered less, an absence of air conditioning or modern hygiene turned crowded schools into health risks, and children had moms who were home every day.” Fast forward 100-plus years: Students must now be prepared to compete for “brain-based” jobs in the global economy, and most don’t have a stay-at-home parent to look after them during the lazy days of summer. (Not to mention that schools now have running water and air conditioning—at least in theory.) Hess says that the summer break is most detrimental to low-income kids, pointing to “scores of studies” showing that “these students lose significant academic ground in the summertime.” His solution: More schools should be encouraged to operate through the summer in communities that need it. The change, he says, would have the added benefit of increasing teachers’ salaries. What it would do to their career longevity is another question.


It is a good idea in theory, however the urban schools are the ones that need the most repair. Air conditioning does not exist in the classrooms of urban schools; air conditioning exists in the administrative offices only. Please stop and visit an urban school in some of the cities such as Baltimore and see if they are conducive to learning during the hot summer months.

Year-round was tried here in Orlando a number of years back (in elementary) and it did not make it at all. Parents complained about the interference with summer vacations, summer camps an so-on.

It Would take a major restructuring of the entire system nation wide. The argument that many What may be useful are "extended year" programs for schools that have an "at risk" population. Another suggestion would be a longer school year in general. As things are now there is not time to teach everything the state mandates.

A big block to this...teacher's unions and funding

Our job is to see that every child is educated. Statistics indicate we have monumental challenges in our urban areas. However, I truly believe the concern should also be about the society in which we live and the beliefs and values we hold. We are no longer "hunters and gatherers". Any child born in this century, whether urban or suburban, must be prepared for the changes and challenges of Today and Tomorrow. A child lacking mastery in core skills and does not receive the support needed after the school day ends, needs additional academic stimulation. Balanced schedules, extended day,year-long school; call it what you will. As educators, we know the right thing to do... if it were OUR child. We must take bold steps in light of our continuous academic improvement to see that not only No Child is LEFT Behind, but that No Child is KEPT Behind.

Businesses here in Florida still want students to have the summer off. It appears that they influenced our legislature to move the school year back to one that meets their needs more than meets the needs of our schools.

Our kids don't necessarily work the fields any more, but they do work in low paying jobs that fuel the tourism/vacation industry. Unless the entire nation makes a change, we're stuck with a 10-month school calendar.

It's a fallcy that teacher salaries will go up. The BOE's will take the yearly negotiated salary and come up with a calndar that will require them to pay no more money as they have in the past. I have 28 years experience and I know the majority of the teachers I've worked with, especially young ones at the lowest lane ofthe slary scale, have a second or third job in the summer. Much ofthe extended education teahcers go after is in the summer months.I'd be all for it if I'd get paid the same rate for the extra months, I'm used to working two jobs. In fact I would prefer the same rates my babysitter got, $125 per week per child, I teach 218 kids per day, 40 weeks a year, I'm a millionaire!

I teach in inner-city Philadelphia where kids on average lose 1 - 3 reading levels over the summer. Sadly, many of them despite our best efforts were 1 - 3 levels behind the target in June. They come back in September so far behind where they should be, and half the year is spent getting them back to achieving where they were before we can move them forward in progress! I heard a study referenced at my school (don't have the details exact) that showed summer vacations alone lead to (I think) an 18-month gap in reading scores by grade 6 or so between city and suburban children. There are many causes and factors for the differences in summer learning but one of them we as educators have some control over is providing year-round schooling opportunities. As one writer said, many of the areas with children most at risk are the same areas that have school with no air conditioning, as is the case here in Philadelphia. However, I think that kind of school improvement and rebuilding should be a priority in light of the statistics and the fact raised by another writer, that we can't teach/meet all the standards required in the 180-day school year anymore. In the meantime, while schools are being improved, every school that does have air conditioning could offer extended school year to the most at-risk students. Maybe suburban could even offer schooling to city children for summers, since there is a smaller at-risk population that would be using the schools. Perhaps a voluntary year-round schooling system could be attempted first to weed out the parents and teachers who are truly against it? The point would be to have open minds and use innovative, creative thinking to make it happen. I know it would benefit the kids where I teach.

When my urban school district was considering implementing year round schools, I had suggested to administrators that discussions about year round schools should be held during the summer in buildings that did not have air-conditioning to see if the environment would be conducive to learning. When the pilot school sites opened, the school sites were in buildings that already had air-conditioning.

An interesting observation from my school district is that many parents are for year round schools. Why? Because parents believe that the schools are YEAR ROUND and that they won't need DAY CARE during the summer. However, many day care operations would not accept children during the yearly scheduled breaks that are usually 2 or 3 weeks long. My students' feelings about year round schools is that it would be like
a punishment for not doing well on tests. "The kids in the suburbs don't have to go." For that matter, one of my students even asked the mayor, "is there anything you can do about all the tests we have to take?" My students also note that they don't get as many SNOW DAYS as the kids in the suburbs. Our schools stay open because "parents don't have anyone to watch their kids." Are urban public schools thought of as glorified day care by parents ... and administrators ... and soceity?

Instead of year round schools -- perhaps we should look at an additional year of schooling between kindergarten and first, and/or first and second (maybe no graded classes) until at-risk students have acquired basic skills and are ready to move to a graded class. This would truly give students the "gift of time" that year round schools could not give.

Before year round schools are implemented, every school in the United States should be brought up to the same standards as the schools that are so successful in meeting AYP. NCLB is a federal law. Maybe more federal dollars should be used to improve urban school districts with new buildings, air-conditioning, 21st century technology and up-to-date textbooks, the everyday things that students in suburban schools take for granted, etc.

The comment about no longer being a society of hunters or gatherers is true. So do you wonder why we still have daily light savings time in the United States? (I wonder why the United States has not gone METRIC.) If we wait for the entire nation to make this change, it will be a long wait!

And, could there be other factors (poverty) that cause students to be unsuccessful? It just might be that our 21st century SOCIETY is LEAVING CHILDREN BEHIND not the schools!

We have several districts in our area of the state that are year round and there has not been a great deal of difference in students scores in comparison to those districts that are on a 10 month schedule. All schools in this area are air conditioned because of the heat predominantly which occurs almost year round but the greatest factor which impacts our schools are low social economic and diverse populations. If the school districts opt to go year round would it really make a difference in overall achievement? The answer of course would be yes because students would have a continuous support in the academics, but would it be beneficail to parents or teachers? Parents would still have the difficulty of getting providers to care for their children during the short breaks. Many families do take vacation during the summer and year round schools may interfere with these family opportunities, but how about teacher's quest to continue their graduate degrees? Most of them take the summer as an opportunity to advance their career or get second jobs. The nation, states and districts would have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of providing year round school and the answer is not quite as easy to come up with as individuals may assume.

People who think this is a good idea have little or no experience in the classroom -- Hess included (he taught for one or two years). A(Additionally, this "bigger, faster, longer" mentality is going to be the death of this nation -- that's my personal, research-unsubstantiated opinion.) None of my classrooms had air conditioning, and the motivation level when you and 29 kids are packed into a hot classroom in the middle of June is about as low as it can get. What's more, studies show that a longer school year does not equal higher student achievement -- quality instructional time does. That's what we need to focus on: how teachers are teaching, a subject that's glaringly absent from policy discussions.

It is certainly easy to find reasons not to extend the school year. The reality is, most of the "problems" do have solutions. A start-up program could certainly include the cost of window air conditioners until the value of the program could be established. Partnering with established child care or city recreation programs makes sense--especially since most "summer school" programs do not cover all of the needed child care hours, or as many hours as the rest of the year. Viewing a summer program as enrichment, rather than punishment for failure is also helpful. This could be accomplished by incorporating all those field trips and hands-on lessons that teachers complain they no longer have time for.

I believe that the research indicates that summer programs have the highest likelihood of success when they begin very early (first grade), incorporate the "fun" elements of typical summer programs along with solid learning, and are viewed more as prevention than remediation.

Perhaps rather than blaming families for wanting to take vacation or send children to camp during the summer, or horrors, for having child care concerns, schools could incorporate parents into the planning committee to see that family needs can be accommodated--instead of the typical "my way or the highway" rules attached to some summer school programs/schedules.

Year round programs may also offer a solution, however in my area, they do not offer any additional days/time. They merely spread the school year into the summer by extending winter and other breaks--with resultant child care chaos.

I believe year-round school (four "terms" per year, with 2 - 4 weeks in between, or something like that) is a great idea. If that was the model, you can bet related businesses would quickly change to fit our schedule - commercial America is much less resistant to change than is the institution of education, since their bottom line is, obviously, the dollar.
There are already spring break and even winter break camps for students to pursue extra-curricular interests (and provide parents with baby-sitting). With year-round school, those kinds of programs would increase. Daycare centers would adjust, too, as would institutions providing graduate degrees for teachers, out of necessity. Summer camps would even still exist, since summer vacations would exist too - it would just be shortened. Families who do have the resources would be able to do all the things they like to do during summer - go to the beach house, go to Europe, go to space camp - they just wouldn't have to cram it all into 8 consecutive weeks.
Wouldn't we all be more productive on that kind of a schedule? I'm always so conflicted during summer - I feel like I need to do all the things I can't do during the school year, but also have things I want to get done at school and don't want to wait 8 weeks to do them.
I do think that there would have to be a critical mass of districts (states? regions?) following the schedule, and the breaks would have to be fairly standardized. Isn't that the typical European or British model? (Not that "European" means better, by any means, but it's a working system worthy of study.)
And yes, schools would have to air-condition more than just the office! (In 5 schools, I've had only one with air-conditioned classrooms, although the second half of August, really, is just as hot as the first)
Bottom line: will American education, as a whole, ever institute that kind of large-scale change? Will it ever change the mediocrity-inspiring system of teacher pay? Will it ever find a better way of retaining new teachers than throwing them to the sharks to see who survives the first two years? Can the Titanic be turned around?

An extended school year is not desirable for many people. However, more opportunities for children to enjoy new experiences over the summer should be offered and available to all children at all income levels. One way to do this is to have schools offer summer camp type activities during the break. Activities could be more than sports. I work at a camp that has a Communication and Technology program (www.Shohola.com). Children enjoy many activities including electronics, robotics, photography, radio and journalism. Math and English skills are taught and used in these activities and the children enjoy themselves while they learn.

Florida will be experiencing a "northern summer" starting in fall of 2007 by starting closer to Labor Day. A few counties will start at a later date this year. I am in Seminole County and my students will be in my room on July 31st. For many of them they have already had too much time off and are bored, anxious to see their friends and to get back to a routine. I like the trimester system that we used to have but it did not suit everyone so it was voted down. In my opinion we need to do what is best for the kids, less summer breakwith more time off during the year at naturally occurring times, such as between nine week grading increments.

Florida will be experiencing a "northern summer" starting in fall of 2007 by starting closer to Labor Day. A few counties will start at a later date this year. I am in Seminole County and my students will be in my room on July 31st. For many of them they have already had too much time off and are bored, anxious to see their friends and to get back to a routine. I like the trimester system that we used to have but it did not suit everyone so it was voted down. In my opinion we need to do what is best for the kids, less of a summer break with more time off during the year at naturally occurring times, such as between nine week grading increments.

Although many have argued that year-round school will provide a venue for academic excellence that American students are perceived to lack, there are numerous alternatives to 12 month schooling. Thinktanks such as the American Enterprise Institute have promoted a sense of "everyman for themself" economics for such an extended length of time that the business community no longer feels itself accountable to its consumers or more especially, its workforce. If accountablility had been instilled in American corporations, perhaps programs for working families such as corporate on-site daycare with enrichment programs for pre-schoolers lead by credentialed teachers might have encouraged early literacy. Then this often insurmountable task of teaching ill prepared and sometimes undernourished youth to perform well in school may not have been left to the impoverished urban schools to carry the entire burden for America's academic shortcomings.

I challenge more corporations to invest in education in this country; and to not carry their particular agendas into the classrooms that they sponsor-- leave that to qualified and trustworthy educators.

Also maybe corporations could sponsor enrichment programs such as literacy camps or writing and mathematics workshops over the summer. This would help America's underserved students to see that there are possibilities for them and not just for the kids in the suburbs. Summer could also be devoted to career-exploration programs so that younger high school students aren't so misinformed when they have to make life-affecting choices.

I agree that we need to extend the school year. If we truly want students to meet the demands of our economy that is what we need to do. There are a lot of excuses for why we don't but none of them have to do with children. In my dream world, decisions in schools would be first and last based upon the needs of the clients, not the practicioners. Kids needs need to come first and we need to spend more time with them so that their jobs won't get outsourced to India or China where the school year is probably longer.

Air conditioning? Wouldn't that be a nice thing? I wouldn't mind having our summer vacation changed to July-Sept to avoid all the hot months. Having students be in the spotlight of standards, exit exams, brainy job market, etc., makes it very difficult for low socio-economic schools. Many students are lucky to make it through high school. If we took summer vacation away, their brains would be shut down for sure! We all need a break, especially the students. If need be, summer school is always an elective option. For those that think this is a great idea, they can certainly begin to upgrade our campus, install air-conditioning, have the latest in technology, etc. When that happens perhaps I'll reconsider.

Teaching in an urban school I sense the need for some kind of summer learning opportunity to keep my students from losing some of the ground they've gained during the school year. I think something should be done BUT, there are a number of issues/factors that need to be considered however:
1) Our district (as is true of most urban districts across the nation) has few, if any, air-conditioned buildings (we haven't built anything since the early 70's) and, having taught summer programs in some of these buildings, I can tell you that by noon you can hardly breathe in them, much less keep your mind focused on academics.
2) Unfortunately, what few parents do get involved seem to simply view school as a glorified baby-sitting service designed to keep kids out of their hair.
3) Blaming teachers unions for summers off indicates an ignorance on the part of many folk - teachers get into the profession because they care! Summers happen to be busy, busy times for teachers who are going to school themselves, working in summer programs to help the students they have during the year, and trying to get refreshed and rejuvenated for the daunting task ahead in the fall. We love the kids but they come very, very needy. Teachers are more than willing to do what it takes BUT we need support too.
4) Urban schools like ours have lots of challenges - almost 30% of our kids are homeless, 99% come from poverty, 78% are 3rd or 4th generation welfare babies, 10% (maybe more in certain years) of our girls are pregnant (some as young as 14!) when they start the school year, and the list goes on.
Our teachers get involved in student lives, some of our teachers provide shelter for the homeless kids, the pregnant girls, the abused/beaten kids, and so on. Don't tell me that teachers only care about salaries.

Let's address the issues affecting our kids and their ability to perform academically. The kid who has no idea where supper is coming from or who is worried about an abusive adult beating the snot out of him for no reason tonight, or who doesn't even know where they're going to sleep tonight isn't going to perform as well as they could academically. Giving them a year-round school would take care of some of the free time issues that provide too much opportunity for them to get into trouble BUT there are more issues than that affecting our students. Look at the whole picture.

I personally had the opportunity to talk to Ms. Spellings (Secretary, US Dept of Education) about this and her response was simply to acknowledge that I had raised some issues. We need to do more than acknowledge the issues; we need to address them.

Rethinking Summer Break...Makes you want too say...Huh!!!! For those of us who are truly concerned about children, this time is used to attend valuable seminars that the district(s) refuse to grant time off to attend. I use my summers to attend testing seminars, literacy seminars/workshops and as an opportunity to enroll in summer courses in order to better myself as an instructional leader. Yes at the beginning of the year my children are off academically and informal testing suggests a decline in skills. But my question is this...What makes you think the students who exhibit resistance in picking up a book during regular school sessions, will be so inclined to pick up one in the summer? Children are accustomed to having the summer off and it is doubtful that this will make a significant impact. I need time to reflect and regroup and so do they!!

I believe this is why we have summer school, which is another sore topic for future discussion. What impact will educators make in 18 days that they couldn't make in 190???

Although I have not had the opportunity to talk to Ms. Spellings, I did have the opportunity to watch her on television. Ms. Spellings was very agreeable until someone "raised an issue" or challenged what was being done by the Dept of Education. I doubt that Ms. Spellings or this administration will be the ones to address the issues that really impact learning, especially if it cuts into the lucrative BUSINESS of education.

For profit charters should be ILLEGAL--no private profit from public dollars. In my state of Michigan, many of the charter schools are K-8 only, but they are collecting the full K-12 funding. I wish someone could explain that to me. Every district in the state of Michigan has had to make cuts. Administrators and legislators blame it on the MEA and health care costs, but no one ever mentions the hundreds of millions of dollars that went for PRIVATE PROFIT!

And, NCLB is also about the money to be made--by book publishers (President Bush is friends with a textbook company owner), by testing companies (President Bush's brother Neil just happens to own an educational testing company), by Learning Centers (like Sylvan Learning Center which, I heard, donated heavily to Bush's campaign) that get NCLB federal dollars ($1200 per student that attends a failing school--student doesn't have to be failing, just so the school is not making AYP), by universities and by educational consultants.

Our government and business is leaving children behind for the bottom line.

I have often read of the many different strategies suggested to help minority and low income children, however the way a child has been socialized plays a very big part in her/his development. Children from homes inwhich the adults do not encourage learning, and haven't completed there own education will be little encouragement to their student: longer school year or not, it will take an extremly motivated child to beat the odds.Where does that leave the early childhood learners and the middle school children? Teachers cannot do it all, no matter how hard they try, and not matter how hard the government tries to force them to.

There are a few really basic ideas that must be considered:
In favor -
1. We really need to extend the school year. There is not sufficient time in the school year for me to cover the 55 state standards for my grade level, and beyond that there is extensive remedial work to do with many students.
2. Our at-risk students fall back -- way back -- during the summer. Nine weeks off is enough time to vacuum their brains clean. A shorter summer break would reduce the loss.
Against -
3. It is extremely unlikely that our state (California) could cough up any extra money for extended year teacher salaries. This would turn into teaching an extra 20 or 30 days for free.
4. Many of our at-risk students would not come to summer session at all, mandatory or not. Lots of families return to Mexico during the summer, or travel doing seasonal work. Many do not return until after Labor Day. Extending the school year would help the top students (who would show up) but not the needy kids.
5. My personal view is that the kids who need an extended year the most really do not need another month or two of the same stuff. They need something interesting and special.
6. My suburban classroom does not have air conditioning, contrary to many posts here. The heat is awful in June and August and September. The kids lose most of that study time because when it is 80 degrees in a crowded classroom, no one learns. Extending school into July would not help much, unless the school day ended about 10 AM.
7. Teachers need the summers off more than the kids do. At least this one does!

Summer break is necessary to teaching students that there is a life outside the academic public school setting. I am a special education teacher and I deal with students who are alwyas going to have a difficult time with school. It won't matter how many more hours you add to the day or the year. My students seem to end up hating the academic setting. There are many more out there that are not special needs students who are burned out on the organized structured setting of a classroom. The more students in the classroom, the more rules, and schedules there has to be. Summer break is good for teaching kids to learn what to do when no one tells them what to do. It's good for summer camps, and enrichment. Over the last ten years of teaching I have had to do damage control with my own children over the summer. I have to teach them how to handle unstructure. I have to teach them about how to act in a shopping mall, and resteraunts that we don't get to go to because there is never time after school in the evenings due to homework. I have noticed that the public school environment can be somewhat stifling to kids natural curiosity because the daily schedule never changes. Because of mandated testing the scheduling has to be the way it is to get through materials the students need to know to pass the tests. This situation has had a negative impact on the affective atmosphere, and the students are starting to become dull. I'm afraid extending the school year would be just more of the same. Bored kids with no physical exercise to stimulate their senses, and help them grow cognitively. We will be a nation of depressed and suppressed individuals. A few of the kids will be like two of my own personal children who quit highschool, got their GED's and have begun their college education. Both are doing well in college because they are finally in control of what they want to learn, and how they can learn. However, many will sludge through, and continue the cycle of being yes-men. They will get jobs that are the same everyday with no hope for anything different in the future. Extending the school year will only result in children being raised in institutionalized settings. We have to stand up for balancing the time spent between school and home. Parents need to raise their children, and give them opportunities for moral growth.

Perhaps more school is less inviting to those who use time away from school to replennish. I needed time away from school to grow up. Personally, I still remember most of the things I wanted to, and some things I didn't want to. What I'm saying is retention takes place easier when one wants the learning, and when the learning experience is meaningful. I don't think how many times it takes/how much time it takes to remember should be the basis for year round school. If we had great curriculum and great teachers and great students everybody would want to be in school all the time anyway. All the mandates, psychology, trends, standards, assessments, rubrics, performance indicators, benchmarks,
groups, thinktanks etc. bore me to tears. Look at the guy who signed the NCLB into Law. Whillikers!

I have taught for sixteen years. I need summer break as much as my kids. Good teachers give so much of themselves during the year that it does take weeks to recover the joy of teaching.

If we don't have enough time to teach the standards, maybe we should rethink the standards. We need to teach kids to love learning, to become life-long learners. We will never teach any child all there is to know.

The biggest change I would make is to make an ungraded classroom for children five to eight. If every child could go ahead in what they were good at, and get extra help in what they weren't, they wouldn't have as much trouble later on. They may even like school a bit more!

Parents and our society need to take responsibility for our children. We teachers give of ourselves every day, and we would love some support, instead of just more rules and responsibilities.

Year-round isn't the same as a longer school year, I don't think more time in the classroom is the answer to the summer droops. Year round with the 9 week on, 3 off, and 5 or 6 in the summer (to accomodate the rabid 'have to vacation in the summer' folks, would seem to make more sense in that the kids could finish a unit, take a break, then come in fresh, but not fall back. Also, 1 week remedial 'camps' could be run during the intercessions to give a boost to those who failed, or were close, giving more timely reinforcement, rather than waiting till the end of a school year, when they're already brain-burned, and non-participatory. this would also eliminate some of the attitude I see in middle school, of "oh, it don't matter if I fail, I'll just come to summer school". Nothing is more annoying and depressing to see kids wasting 8 months of their time and mine, because they know they can come in to summer, get free breakfast and lunch, hang out with their friends, and pass anyway. I think a new system, however annoying to the mainstream, is needed to recover the knowledge base and fine education that we used to offer in this country. Most of the students don't need the 10 weeks they get all at once, and I don't think teachers would feel so burnt out at the end of the year, if they'd had a few breaks during it. It also would lend itself to inservices, making it less necessary for us to have to cram a bunch of summer inservices in, and a time to reflect upon our instruction with definate limits and time-tables for it. It would be wonderful to be able to get a breather at the end of each 9 weeks to organize, catch up paperwork, and relax while planning my next unit. The way it is now, its constant, unrelenting work, work, work, with quite a few breaks in the fall, and after winter break, one inservice day, one holiday, and a long wait to Spring Break, which for some reason where I teach is at the very last week of March. By then everyone is burnt out, and then we come back, the kids are done. They don't see anything but that summer break. We do have a changing schedule at my school, with 7 periods, and we rotate the schedule every 5 weeks, which gives all the students a chance to have each class at a time-period that may be their better learning time, a different lunch group each rotation, and someone new in the morning and afternoon. It is good for teachers too, giving us at least one 5 week period with a lunch planning period, life-saver for sure! With a new more 'user-friendly' schedule, a lot of the disinterest, and student/teacher burn out could be avoided, or lessened.

Leave it alone. It's been tried. You're beating a dead horse. Thank you.

Please revisit something! These children are suffering. Many of them don't want the education, but the need the safe place and 2 meals a day. We as educators have so much to be responsible for with wonderful little people that are not ours. It saddens my heart when many of these children will not be going to a summer camp. Hey Summer school was the closest thing to summer camp. If we do not change summer, allow some camp type of activies along with the 3R's. Let's continue to fight for the less fortunate (not only because of money, just lack of opportunity). We need something more, not always the same way. Allow us more options to do what we can with the lost few that do not qualify for Sp. Ed. and will not pass the state assesment, unless the Lord takes it for them. Please, it scares me! Who we do not educate, might marry our own children or grand-children. Now that's a thought to consider.

Jonathan Lee writes: "In my dream world, decisions in schools would be first and last based upon the needs of the clients, not the practicioners."

This is precisely the kind of thinking that reflects the public's misunderstanding of education as a profession--and it is precisely why educators get so defensive on issues such as these. Is it not bad enough that pharmaceutical companies advertise their products, encouraging "clients" to ask for what they "need" from their "practioners"? At some point, we clients have to trust the professionals in charge of our health. After all, they have years of education and experience on which to draw to make their decisions in our best interest.

The same is true of educators: we are professionals with years of training, and should, at some point, be allowed and trusted to draw on that training to make some decisions in the best interests of our "clients" (though thinking of my students as "clients" makes me shudder. They mean so much more to me than a mere customer).

Year round school? In some ways it seems like a very good idea; however, there are so many potential road blocks I truly can't see any state government working things out to benefit students and pay teachers what they deserve.
Speaking for myself, I think summer break is too long. I do like the idea of having 2-4 week breaks during the year and going all year but I know there are countless others who enjoy the summer break and feel it is too short!
Posters brought up great points for and against year round school. The pros would be keeping students in an academic "mind frame" for most of the year. (the ones who would be in an "academic mind frame! LOL) I also agree with the poster who said it might give more time to teach the endless required standards that no one can possibly fit in a 10 month period.
On the down side, I can see how year long school would cause multiple problems for vacations, camps, daycare, etc. Naturally, there is that all important issue of teacher salary too.
I'm with the poster who said the real focus needs to be on what the teacher is actually able to teach in the classroom. States need to sit down and take a realistic look at standardized testing and see if children are truly learning from taking these things. JMO--THEY'RE NOT.

Children learn in many venues, including vacations and camps. Attempting to teach in the classroom during the summer months would limit those learning opportunities. I'm sorry that education is now so focused on test scores. I don't believe that test scores truly provide what we need for educated citizens and workers. I think we should encourage students to take advantage of chances to travel, work and learn in nontraditional ways and this often can be done most easily during the summer months. Also, I seriously doubt that school districts in Idaho and probably elsewhere could afford to operate schools year-round...they can barely do it for nine months of the year. Air conditioning? Doubtful! In addition, many of the extracurricular activities like sports and band, use time during the summer to learn and practice. I believe that these programs teach valuable lifetime skills that can't be taught in the academic classroom. Year-round school is one of those ideas that seems good but isn't.

I am thinking that the school year can not be extended until all buildings have air conditioning. Approximately half of the buildings in my area DO NOT HAVE AC! Without AC...forget it.

Furthermore, until the Federal Government pays what they promised for NCLB....why bother? If the people who voted for this legislation won't support it, why should we?

Putting all of my anger to the side, I will admit that school days could be extended. I believe that schools should offer quality professional development (to enhance exemplar instruction) over the summer. I believe that schools should be forced to provide extra tutoring for all of those who are in need. Of course, that requires money. Money that has been promised but not delivered. Evidently, money as well as honesty are two things that do not flow easily from D.C. to our buildings.

I loved reading these articles, the urban, suburban perspectives and the perceptions folks have about different areas of our country. I taught in a middle school in Portland, Oregon for almost 20 years and I agree-- in no way will summer school in windowless classrooms with no air conditioning succeed or help students. We did have some year round (choice) schools in the district which were successful but they did not have any more additional days than those of us that were on the typical schedule--and they are elementary schools. Now I am in Alaska representing educators and I'll tell you that the major issue here would be economics both for students and staff--where most work the short but lucrative construction or tourist seasons. Some of our support personnel make more during the summer time that they do all year long in their school jobs--which is sad. Then you have the seasonal issues, many of our students and families need to fill freezers during hunting and fishing seasons--as well as some of our staff. And good luck getting those of us back inside who have just come through a long, cold, dark winter. Plus those places in Alaska that don't really warm up--it gives the district a break on a couple of months of heating the buildings. And let's not blame the unions (remember that they are not just teacher unions--they are support staff unions also)since this is really also about money--extra pay for extra work which districts and legislatures don't want to cough up.

Some very interesting posts, which bring to light that the issue is much more complex than it seems and a longer school year is not the "be all and end all" answer.
Having had an education in Europe, where I was learning subject matter in High School at 18 that my peers in the States did not learn until the second year of College, I think that the entire system in this country is so broken, (including parent attitudes) that this would probably be a paltry band-aid. However, we have to start somewhere and now that I have two children of my own to bring up in the States, any improvement would be welcome.

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  • Michele: Some very interesting posts, which bring to light that the read more
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