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Year-Round Schooling

Original post made by sjhfkhf, Amador Valley High School, on Mar 3, 2013

How many of you like school? To those of you who do: what's wrong with you? And to those of you who don't: the good news is you don't have to like school to recognize the undeniable reasonability and need for a year-round school year. I mean, we do have to consider those poor souls without tiger moms. With year-round schooling, the focus is the takeaway of our huge chunk of summer break, but not many more days are added to the school year. Year-round schooling means we're going to restructure the school year so that it spans from January to December. But before we get into that, let's just take a look at why we have a summer break in the first place. Back in the 1800s, urban areas actually had year-round schooling, because they weren't tied to the agricultural cycle like rural towns were. But, problems, such as fiscal limitations, arose. Besides that, schools had poor attendance because school wasn't mandatory until the 1870's. So, when reformers decided to shorten the school year, they decided to take the chunk out of summer, because of poorly ventilated buildings that didn't help against heat waves, fear of disease, and because the wealthy often vacationed during this time. But now, we have air conditioning, mandatory attendance, and 3 major problems arising. One is that long breaks cause students to forget knowledge, and two, they are also detrimental to the education of poor students without as much scholarly resources outside of school, and finally three, the new extended school year's schedule will lead to less stress for students.

Ask yourself: do you, as a high school student, or as a parent, go out of your way to actively prevent knowledge-loss (of your student) over your own personal summer breaks? To those who said yes, I believe you, truly, I do. Unfortunately, whether or not you do, the numbers say otherwise, and as a result, teachers still spend most of first quarter reviewing with students, taking up time that could be used for progress. In a study done by University of Columbia-Missouri's Cooper, Nye, Charlton, Lindsay, and Greathouse, it was found that the summer loss was similar to missing one month of the school year. Furthermore, Marcotte and Hansen, from the University of Maryland estimate that an additional 10 days of instruction results in an increase in student performance on state math assessments.

In the same study conducted by University of Columbia-Missouri mentioned earlier, it was also found that middle-class students' reading recognition tests improved over summer while lower-class students' scores decreased. This negative effect was found to increase as students' grade levels did. The picturesque vision of summer masks the reality that for too many children, particularly those of low-income families, languid summers can be educationally detrimental. Research conducted by Johns Hopkins' Alexander, Entwisle, and Olson shows that the primary reason the achievement gap between poor children and their more affluent peers widens over the course of their school careers is the long break in learning over the summer. It's called summer slide. In fact, the research found that the achievement gap at 9th grade traces back to differential summer learning over the elementary years. Finally, of course cost is a problem. The response is to weigh the long-term costs of the summer break against the short-term costs of a longer school year.

In efforts to improve education, the last thing we want is student burnouts. Sure, year-round schooling means virtually no summer break, but the main difference is that it's just structured differently--specifically, it's structured in a way to reduce stress. The most typical scheduling method is the 45-15 plan. This means we attend school for 45 days and then take a 15 day vacation.

The main issue with this topic is not that it's unknown. It's that it is so controversial, people don't even consider it. At the end of the day, it's important to remember that this isn't a debate about whether or not students should have a summer vacation. It's a debate about whether we can do what we should do. In fact it shouldn't even be a debate. It's time for our nation to stop debating and start improving.

Comments (7)

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Posted by Michael L.
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 4, 2013 at 8:21 am

When I was in school, during the summer break, my parents took us places and we learned by doing and exploring not by being force fed canned lessons out of a text book. I remember those summer vacations where we went to historic sites and visited museums and visited with relatives in other places fondly. After the summer it was back to sitting in rows in desks and listening to the teacher feed us another canned lesson and then we took a test to see how much we remembered. Guess what, I don't remember any of it now and I don't care. Young people need to be free to learn and think for themselves. Standardized tests breed standardized thinkers. Each person in the end has to live with their choices, let them be free to make them. Don't be a shill for the command and control school system that stifles learning and creativity. Focus on improving your own life and stop trying to ruin the lives of others.

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Posted by Trudy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

The best planned program I have encountered for elementary and middle school kids is here in Pleasanton. The Hacienda School is full-time and based more on the modern American employment calendar than the agrarian calendar. When I was just starting out in my career, there were years when my kids were in school 50 weeks out of the year, and never once complained of being bored. Special sessions during the summer and holiday periods for creative writing, camping trips, marine biology and fine arts were their favorites. And no backsliding academically.

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Posted by Michael L.
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 4, 2013 at 11:02 am

I just had to laugh when I read "modern American employment calendar". Not only is the agrarian economy a thing of the past, but so is what you are referring to. The marking point of its end was the opening up of the Internet to the public in 1992 and it has been slowly going away every since them.

Do you know that many people just down the road in silicon valley are only offered contract employment based on projects of 3 to 9 months or so and not offered jobs and when each project ends they have to prove their skills to get another contract?

Do you know that many software applications these days are done in an open source model and if you want to work on them you are not asked for your public school records, you are asked to submit some programming code that will be evaluated by the committee that oversees the project?

Do you know that many people create programs using tools over the Internet such as on Amazon Web Services and many iPhone applications are written in this way and put on the iStore by kids in Russia who have never had a job but are making money by writing code?

Do you know that many office jobs that your children might have had are being done by people in India over the Internet and they will never be offered to your children?

If your schools are not letting children learn independently, and learn how to identify and solve problems and learn about technology and programming and the Internet then they won't be getting making money. There are no jobs doing the traditional things that are taught in school that professors get paid to promote in their own self interest. That is why 500,000 American college graduates are living at home, unemployed and trying to pay off their student loans, which the government has made impossible to get out of.

But of course the students don't complain, the schools teach them to do what they are told or else they get detention and locked out.

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Yet in this community there are those who question why we need a new director of technology, after the last one retired. They wonder why we would need someone to run/oversee/maintain the servers and hardware for 15 schools all using technology daily. One woman suggested teachers be trained using DVDs to integrate technology into our classrooms. This is the idea this community has about creating 21st century classrooms. I'm curious how what you have posted fits in with the anonymous voices who post against our schools investing any money into training and technology?

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Posted by Paul Aguire
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 5, 2013 at 8:04 am

I am opposed to the spending because the spending does not go to training and technology but rather to the teachers who are doing a terrible job in my view and many others. If the teachers were actually paid what they earned and what they deserved there would be plenty of money left over for the things we need and desire. If you are in business and hire high school grads then you must be shocked by the reading and math levels they have. This whole dumbing down starting with Hillary Clinton and her it takes a village and tribes. Now we spend the most in the nation for education and rank 49th. in performance. Would you invest more money in something like that? Unless you are a graduate of the California schools then you would not.

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2013 at 10:25 am

So you are saying that keep the level the same, no training, although technology changes faster than most can keep up with. And this will improve the quality of education our children receive? Continue to cut the level of investment in schools because that will make them better? And you are in business? Is this the philosophy you use with your employees?

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Posted by Paul Aguire
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I am saying that we have a very specific amount of money to spend and with all on going concerns we need to figure out what is the best return just like in business. In business you don't just spray money around unless it connects with the business direction. The kids graduating from HS are just not good in math, reading, and writing. Those are basics and this must be addressed and not by lowering the expectations to say we did well on a test. The bar needs to continually rise.

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