Since our school system is doing such a good job with graduation rates, literacy and other trivial issues, parents are being distracted by school calendars. Surveys were randomly sent to parents asking their opinion on the start and end dates for the school year. Apparently, having four school age children attending three different schools didn’t beat the odds of my getting to participate in this survey or any other decision made by my school board.
The Save Our Summers moms have legislation being considered that would make the school calendar uniform across the state. Tennessee used to treat school systems under home rule. When it comes to the school calendar, each district needs to be allowed to create their own. We still have factory towns and farmers in this state. Their needs are not going to be the same as the needs of metro areas like Shelby County. I am sure that the Save Our Summers parents could find a private school to accommodate their need for summers at their beach homes. That sounds ugly. I apologize. I just don’t believe that there are a lot of low income, working parents campaigning for or against certain school calendars.
No matter what calendar is chosen, my children will do fine. They are not latchkey. They get fed three (frequently more) times each day. I monitor their gaming addictions, amount of daily reading and time spent playing outdoors. I sign them up for classes and camps (We LOVE zoo camp.) to encourage new experiences. They actively participate in scouting. Friends and extended family are part of their daily lives. More important than any of that, I actually LIKE having the children at home. I like doing things together. We don’t go on cruises or travel to Europe, but we have a lot of fun just running around East TN. Unfortunately, our family’s situation is the exception to the norm.
The children who will be affected by the school calendar don’t have anyone lobbying for them in Nashville. Their families are busy surviving. We will never make everyone happy. If you want to do what is right for the students who need schools the most, stop arguing about when school starts and ends. Families can travel and vacation anytime during the year. No matter when the summer is, provide real learning opportunities for students who need or want them. It shouldn’t be limited to classrooms and worksheets. Let summer be experiential learning time for students. The real world experiences might just be the thing that keeps some students from dropping out of school. Connect with the business community to get professionals in the schools and students involved in their community. Let’s focus on what the students need.