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School's Out for Summer?

Extending the academic year by hours, days or months is a question that school districts have been floating for a while. For many, the cost of extending the year must be weighed against the learning benefits.

This week, in her state of education speech, Sandy Garrett, Oklahoma state school superintendent, raised the thorny issue. Dr. Joe Siano, school superintendent for Norman, Okla., said, “My reaction is positive. I think with the challenges in accountability, time is an important issue. I’m very much in favor of looking at those extended time options.” But he notes that there are also financial considerations. “You have to look at extended operation dollars and contractual dollars,” said Siano.

Another concern, of course, is whether students need to have a summer vacation. The Press & Sun-Bulletin in Greater Binghamton, New York, opened the discussion to its readers, “Should local school districts have classes year-round? Or is summer vacation an important part of life for students?” One reader’s response, “Not all learning takes place inside the classroom,” comes as nothing new in the debate over whether children need time off.

For a quick history on the genesis of the summer vacation, check out Slate.com's Explainer.

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