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The End of Summer?


As the school year heads into its final months, many teachers may be counting the days until summer break. But in recent years, a number of commentators and organizations have argued that the traditional school summer vacation should be significantly curtailed, and a growing number of schools have adopted year-round schedules. Advocates say that the summer break no longer suits the schedules of today's families, and that students lose essential learning time. Others, however, say that students (not to mention teachers) need the break from school to experience alternative kinds of activities, and that year-round schooling can actually impede student progress.

What's your view? Does the school calendar need to be changed? How would year-round schooling affect the teaching profession?


I think that those who advocate for year-round schooling should come teach my classes for one week. If they survive, they will certainly have a different perspective about "summers off" - which is not true any longer, what with the ever-increasing demands for so-called "professional development".

I NEED an extended break after over 9 months sealed in a small room with those people. What I DO NOT NEED is "professional development", whatever that is.

And here is the bottom line, folks - take away my "summers off", and I will quit on the spot.

i am currently teaching in san diego and have been teaching at a year round school for three years. I really support this schedule because every 8 weeks we get 3-4 weeks off. So when you get to the point where you are feeling burn out a nice 3 or 4 week break comes.Plus,in our district you get professional development is necessary because of NCLB requirements.Every teacher must continue to grow as a professional to better prepare our students for the high paced society they will be a part of.In conclusion I support year- round schedules it alleviates lots of stress!!!

I am currently teaching in San Diego and have been teaching for three years at a year round school.I really support this schedule because every 8-9 weeks a 3-4 week break follows. So when you get to the point where you are feeling burnt out a nice break soon arrives.Plus in our school district professional development is necessary to meet the NCLB requirements.I feel every teacher must continue receiving professional development to better prepare our students for the high paced society they will encounter.In conclusion, year-round schedules alleviate stress,maintain students focused,and most of all vacations are pleasant while others professions are busy at work.

As a concept, year round schools carry alot of validity. Children often play catch up after a summer away from organized school, and in urban districts, many children are left in unstructured, unsafe environments. On the flip side, many schools, especially in urban school areas are very old, and not equipped to comfortably accomodate staff or children during blisteringly hot summers. I have measured temperatures in my classroom at over 100. No one can learn or function in an environment like that.

I've been in the education profession for 41 years, therefore, I'm in a position to compare then with now. The idea of summer break came with the need for farm families to have their children home to help with crops. Current times are VERY different from those days. After teaching for 9 months, teachers are exhausted, burned out. Alot of time is wasted with recoupment of skills in autumn and the winding down that comes in May and June as the school year ends. As a nation we no longer have the luxury to waste any educational time. Teachers and students will adjust to year round schools. In this on-going system, there will little waste of time. Teachers and students will refresh themselves with short breaks during the school year. More learning will be accomplished. Those students who excel can continue increasing their skill levels. Those students who need remediation will have the opportunity to "catch up" with skills and then they will have the opportunity to generalize the skills rather than lose everything over 3 months of summer vacation. The education profession is in constant change. It's time to change from life in an agrarian society to life in a technological society.

I agree with Mr. Phillips that summer vacation is a needed institution. Teaching is an extremely demanding profession. I work 10+ hour days more often than not. I don't get paid overtime because I am a salary employee. My salary is FAR below what most people who work the kind of hours I work are paid. I spend several weeks at the start of the summer trying to catch up on rest I lost during the school year, catch up on tasks I couldn't get done during the school year, and finally feel like a normal human being. Three or four weeks every few months would not be as beneficial because I would undoubtedly always end up bringing home work to do or sitting in professional development. I don't see how you wouldn't play catch up on what you were learning before the break every time you were off.

Children have so little time for free-play. All of the opportunities for fun and play that we had as youngsters, seem to be disappearing these days. Those wonderful days of having summer break, have to be some of my best memories. Pressures today, of both parents working or single-parents, having to find places during the summer, for their children, add to the pressure to have year-round schooling. Let children enjoy one of the last freedoms of childhood. And it is no longer 3 months off, but more like 2. Children need to learn to initiate their own play, structure how they will use their free time and have time to learn how to just play!

I'm for all year-round. Both teachers and students get a break when they are about to get burned out. Children don't have enough time to completely forgot what they've learned because they are enjoying their free time (if they are lucky enough to have that). Yes you would probably take some work home, but you do that during the summer too, but you won't probably taking as much, you need to learn to prioritize.
We are no longer in an agrarian society so let's change!!!!!

Teaching, as I do, in an alternative environment has brought me full circle to believe that year round schooling would be an advantage to these kids. The amount of reteaching that must be done after a summer off of doing who knows what while their parents or guardians are working uses a lot of valuable time. Not to mention that the 3-4 week breaks sprinkled throughout the year would benefit my own sanity.
Also as a profession we take a lot of gruff for what looks like to the outside world a lot of time off, the opinion being that we don’t really work. It is difficult to get non-educators to understand what we do and why time off is valuable. This works against our credibility as professionals, thus making legislation harder to pass, because you can’t get outsiders readily on board. Year round school would vanquish that attitude, or at least make it easier to stand against.

Year round makes sense for academics, but not for my sanity. I teach junior high students with severe/profound disabilities. They already get an extra 5 weeks of half-days every summer to recoup lost skills (and give their parents a respite). Who will be teaching them if we have 3-4 week breaks every two months? I am certain their parents will want them to have services in that "long" break time. I work in the Seattle area and we don't have air conditioning in our new building, either. Honest, it does get into the 90's in my classroom in June, and it is difficult to teach over the sound of the box fans--not to mention that the noise from the fans upsets my students with autism.
Yes, year round school could be useful, but the entire system of teacher workload, mandatory professional development and low pay should be part of this conversation, too.

I have heard benefits and problems with year round schooling. A group of people trying to improve the salaries in our state have proposed a year round schedule of the students attending for the 6 weeks with 3week off, but the teachers would teach full year with only July off (making it 182 days for students and 220 days per year for teachers). With that type of schedule burn out would occur much quicker.
I can't even imagine what we would be like. I too think those people should be responsible for teaching a time to realize the stress encountered. I do believe it is too bad those not in our profession seem to know more of what we need than we do. It would just be nice to be consulted prior to making their decisions.

Interesting that this discussion topic should come just a few lines down from the article: David Elkin's "The Power of Play" (and also "The Hurried Child"). Children will have to punch the clock for THE MAN all of their working day. When will we allow children to be children? I say when we move from the materialistic world to a thinking world. Today’s world that requires a two income family that wants their children to have, have, have. What parents don't realize is that their children lack, lack, lack! We are raising a second generation of children who don't know how to think for themselves they only now how to give an answer. The answer they usually give is "I want that too!" Here is to the families who can figure out that summer days can be filled with wondrous non-structured exploration and the use of the senses to build a mind that thinks outside of the take-out box.

I have worked in a year-round school for 10 years. I have found it to be beneficial for both myself and my students. After three months of teaching a break is needed, not only to refresh the body, but to help the mind get re-focused. I also am able to enjoy vacations at times when it is less crowded and expressive, which makes it more enjoyable. As for my students, they too don't seemed so overwhelmed with the amount of information given. Teaching in smaller time periods allows the students to stay focused. I have also found they are more eager to return to class and don't seem to be "brain dead" as they were after returning from a three month break. They only negative element for year round is trying to run an intersession program for those who are not meeting grade level requirements and need extra time and help. This next year our district is returning to a traditional track because of financial reasons, and I am not looking forward this change.

I am from Iowa and I teach at a year round school for the last 6 years and love it. We start at the end of July and have three weeks off in October and March inaddition to the regular holidays. and 6 weeks in the summer. I work at a high risk school and our test scores have gone up. Teachers and students are not burned out like I saw at a 9 month school. I am able to travel, study and read more since I have this schedule. My family loves it too.

Just a couple of new observations/concerns regarding the idea of year-round school.
1. I've heard that many teachers actually work a second job during the summer to supplement their incomes. This wouldn't be possible with little breaks throughout the year. If schools were to switch to this schedule, would that be an increased financial burden? (Assuming that the change wouldn't be accompanied by a significant increase in pay).
2. A related concern involves the same idea from the student's perspective. Personally, as a teenager, I also worked during those months "off." Not only is it a good lesson in personal responsibility, but it can be very necessary to some students and their families. Is this going to put less financially fluid families at a further disadvantage?

I'm exhausted at the end of a day... by the end of the school year, I don't want to see a child for two months... at all... period.. anywhere. I have given and given and given and given. And I've done my best... but I too am done.

What people who are not in the classroom do not get is that serving the needs and desires of children at the whim of a bloated bureauracy is psychically exhausting. It takes me half the summer to release the 9 months previous and by the time I return at the end of August, I'm just about okay.. just okay enough to think...yes, I think I can do it again.

What is the point of year round school, really? Is it so that children will learn content that in past generations they learned just fine without year round school? Is'nt it time we look at why previous generations learned what these generations can not? Perhaps year round schooling is really a means for providing year round babysitting service to parents so that they can keep working. I dont want to end up in a classroom year round for that reason. Of course, the argument is that children will learn more and better if they are in school all the time rather than most of the time. I don't agree. The idea that children could learn a little more for the NCLB tests is not a compelling need. The idea that children only learn in formal settings or only need to learn academic subjects is also not accurate.

One thing is certain.. either way. Most teachers will agree that an extended break from children is an essential part of being able to do this job for a full career. So, in the long run, if year round school is not good for the teachers, it's really not going to be good for the kids either. You can't separate the needs of children and teachers in this context. Those who can will leave teaching. Better able teachers will go elsewhere or into less demanding higher status professions. Of those that remain, the level of exhaustion will mediate against much benefit for the student. When the teacher is too exhausted to care, the student is underserved by definition.

It seems to me that 9 month vs. full year is not a black or white question. There is nothing preventing some schools from working on one schedule and other schools on another. Indeed certain schools (i.e. those with AC) are equiped for summer instruction and others are not.
I agree with those who say that kids need time to be kids but many of my students spend their summer's inside because I teach in a dangerous neighborhood.

Children spend lot off mental energy.they need resr. They can mix with our relatives. exchange ideas. Already in this nuclear families they lost many childhood experencies. They are not bonded laboure.

Teaching and learning is different from other types of occupations.

They should go for vacation immediately after examinations and results, so, that they come back to school afresh.

I just took a break from correcting Senior Shakespeare essays. Twelve to twenty hours of my week are spent correcting. This fall it took me over 30 hours just to complete the college recommendation letters. Having been a football coach for 25 years and a teacher for 31 years I feel that I've had a full-time position with plenty of overtime crammed into 10 months of the year. Although I consider myself an energetic and enthusiastic teacher, it's impossible to maintain that level of intensity throughout an enervating summer with no ac. Part of the excitement of school for both teachers and students is the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie in "surviving" the year and earning a break. School is supposed to be about setting goals and positive motivation. I'm working at developing leaders who will be able to compete at the next level in order to contribute to the world community. Young people respond to positive reinforcement. Let's not make school punitive.

We all need reflection, but rarely do it without sufficient time away from our intensive work. For hardworking teachers, especially those with families, 3 weeks between sessions hardly seems adequate. How many of us would use that time to catch up? (Most of us?) To plan exciting activities for the next session? (Many of us?) To reflect? (How many?)

When we talk about our instructional time with students, and how our students return "braindead" from their time away from our brilliant influence, what are we saying about ourselves and our responsibilities, and our students' families? How can we do a better job of acknowledging and enhancing the significant learning experiences that people have outside our classroom walls?

I am a future high school teacher. I believe we need to make many changes. Some like extended school years seem drastic because it is a change from a long standing tradition. In order to help our students compete with the world, we need to teach them more. Longer school days and longer school years are inevitable. I believe 7-8 hour school days and 11 month school years need to be implemented. I also think teachers salaries need to be increased in the neighborhood of 50% or more to compensate.

As an administrator of a private school I already work 10 to 12 hours a day and only take off the month of July. Many of my teachers are there with me, working for the best of our students. They are in school in August decorating classrooms, attending staff development and encouraging each other. Not all, but most. Moving to that type of schedule would not be a burden. It is sad to hear the discussion from some educators that basically revolves around themselves and their needs. In order for us to compete in a global society we must look outside of an antiquated farming schedule (in which the children worked in the fields-not played) and to a more competitive world view. It would take many changes in structure, in salary and in--yes--professional development. We can't think of just putting a new schedule on an existing system. However, for those who are already burned out and exhausted, healthwise it might be beneficial to look for a different career. Just keep in mind that most office positions will have you there for 9 hours a day with two weeks vacation during the year and no holidays, winter and spring breaks as we have now.

This is my last year of teaching in a year round school. Our school is going back to a traditional calendar because of declining enrollment. This was the main reason for year round school to begin with. I've had the good fortune of teaching in both a year round and tradtional school. As a teacher, it has been great to work 3 months and have one month off. It also allows for my own children to have mom at home for awhile. Both calendars have pros and cons. The real problem in schools is the emphasis on testing, NCLB, meaningless professional development days, and the ever increasing demands that are placed on teachers.

I agree with the move to year-round schooling with some reservations. It should be a decision based on local situations. I teach in Arizona. The cost of providing air conditioning throughout the summer will be prohibitive to most districts. Students will not be able to do any outdoor activities for several months. That will put a strain on PE departments and after school sports programs.

Another consideration is the universty programs available for ongoing education. Though some have stated they did not want or need such development, many depend on that for advancement on the salary scale. A move toward year-round will force teachers into distance learning programs that may cost more than they could get at a traditional setting. Of course universities would eventually adapt to keep that market, but it will take a while.

An alternative to year-round that I have found beneficial would be to loop students with the same teacher for several years. I have done this and found that the kids can pretty much pick up after the summer with only a small amount of review. Just something to think about.

I have taught at a year round school for the last 20+years. I have only taught in a year round environment but have talked to collegues at my school who have done both. They would prefer year round. I have also met other collegues that have transferred to year round schools when the enrollment dropped enough to become a traditional calendar school. I find the advantages as follows: as a mom I was able to participate in my own kids school activities when I was off and could enjoy them to the fullest. I also could attend professional development and/or substitute for extra income if I wanted to. There are many different schedules for year round schools so that is a factor. My schedule was 4 months in and 6weeks out, then 4months in and 6 weeks out ( the summer cut in 2 pieces). Due to the fact that until recently all schools in the area of my school were year round due to over crowding teachers have to share rooms. That means packing up twice a year.When I'm off-track the in-coming teacher uses the room and vis a versa ( the down side). Otherwise the pacing was perfect right about the time students and teachers start to burn out we all get a break and return refreshed.At our school we all sent home vacation homework. Just a little something to help them practice and keep their skills up. Our students also benefit because most are english learners and the shorter break helps them retain more english. The shorter break also means that I didn't have to pay for full time child care for 3 full months in a row. Many of our teachers who travel during vacations have no problems continuing to do so. In fact they could benefit from off season rates.The hardest thing for my school has been having opportunities to bring the entire staff together since we have multiple tracks. Teachers as many people do tend to fear the unknown. Those who are so adament that year round would be intolerable need to do some research before you condem year round school.

hi. yrs is dumb. thanx. bye-bye...

American students and teachers need to realize that the future of our country is at stake. We cannot afford summer vacation no matter what schedule it is on. The teacher that said she would quit if they took her summer vacation needs to do her students a favor and quit now.

American students and teachers need to realize that the future of our country is at stake. We cannot afford summer vacation no matter what schedule it is on. The teacher that said she would quit if they took her summer vacation needs to do her students a favor and quit now.

I am a Tunisian teacher who works in the U.A.E. I teach English as a second language. Imagine me spending every day with three classes and in each class there are more than 30 students. The problem is that the number of those who are really interested to learn the language is around five or six students only in each class. This is not the only problem. I suffer here from a kind of descrimination as Iam not a local so my salary is less than the half of the locals teachers.I have to work for longer hours and any problem with students must be my responsibility because i have no rights as the students have. I always see the other local teachers who teach different subjects enjoying drinking tea and chatting. No one can blame them for only one reason that they are locals. The other problem is the adminisration and the principal. If you know how to be hypocrit and get closer from them then you will get what the best time table as well as the best classes. So do you think that I don't need the summer vacation? Sure Iam looking forward to it because it's my only chance to escape from this situation and to cure myself and my soul from all these hurting abuses.

While I have not taken the time to read all of the comments posted, I would love to see year round schooling - in the following way. In order for schools on the "traditional" calendar to align with my "new calendar," the new one needs to look like this:

Augutst, Sept, Oct. - school in session.
November- NO SCHOOL
December, January, February- school in session.
April, May, June - NO SCHOOL

I think this would work because you would still have roughly the same amount of in school time, but students wouldn't get out of the school mode as much as they do on the summer. You would still need to work around major holidays, but if the breaks were minimal, this could work. Obviously, schools need air-conditioning if this is to work, but I like the idea and I'd jump at the chance to teach with this schedule. For teachers, trips could now occur at other times of the year that aren't as expensive as Easter and Christmas.

What with all this 9 months? We are in school from Sept 1st until June 22nd this year. That computes to two months. And a far as a second job, I do work in the summer to supplement. Futhermore what about the students that need to make up a class in Summer School? It just seems that there are many perks to being a teacher to this generation of children. No is what I say, plus we live in a summer vacation area which needs the teenage employment. I doubt or board would ever agree to such a thing.

Public education is not unlike other institutions in our society;improvement has no simple answer, but instead, a multipronged approach is needed. If we could combine what we know from research that really works with the practices and procedures we aleady use with success, and throw out that which does not work, perhaps year-round schooling would be unnecessary for all students. Which brings me to another idea: do all students need the same amount of time to learn basic skills? Of course not, therefore why must we put them all in the same time frame? When we are able to meet the needs of individual students instead of groupings of them, then we will feel that the process works, and time will no longer be the main issue. My own children are in high school and feel that a lot of time is wasted while extraneous information is presented. The breadth of information taught appears to be too wide for students to really have a handle on the basic skills, according to colege professors. Let's not ask our kids to stay in school for 12 months in order to fix problems that have nothing to do with a 9 or 10 mmonth school year. From...Cheryl in Massachusetts.

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