New schedule could help cut academic losses

Friday, July 27, 2007

A little more than two weeks from now, football players will report for practice. A week after that students will be reporting to the classroom.

A month or more after that, they'll have recovered most of the academic ground they lost over the summer. Not to mention the month before school got out, which most teachers concede is an educational write-off as well.

Is it time to look at some sort of year-round schedule?

We can hear the children groaning already.

But there are some points to ponder.

For one, summer vacation is a throwback to the time when most of us lived on farms, and needed the time off in the summer to help Dad with the fieldwork.

That time is long past for most of us, but with long summer evenings, there's no reason nearly as much could be accomplished after school.

For another, year-round schooling is much more representative of the kind of work-a-day life students can expect when they are adults.

A year-around schedule wouldn't necessarily involve more days of school, just shorter breaks, and less time for kids to become bored.

Family vacations can be timed to coincide with school breaks, and why not incorporate summer sports like baseball into the public school athletic system? Girls softball is already an area of overlap, and how many high school students students would jump at the chance to continue their soccer careers?

Most educators already are on 12 month contracts, and there's no reason allowances couldn't be made for continuing education requirements.

And, although they might not spend that much more time in school, the increased academic efficiency would help put American students in a better position to compete with their counterparts in Japan or Europe.

Plus, summertime would be ideal for special learning experiences like field trips and projects that are harder to accomplish during a regular school year.

An argument can also be made that school facilities like the new McCook Elementary are better utilized year-round than allowed to sit idle for a fourth of the year.

A shift to a year-around schedule wouldn't be easy, nor something that should be done without an abundance of planning and preparation.

But it's something that should be at least discussed, or perhaps even tried in a demonstration project.

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