So, I just recently found out that the Department of Education in my state is open to considering four-day school weeks. What was my reaction to this? I wanted to around my house screaming “Ay, Dios mio, porque? Why, God why? Are you freaking kidding me?!” Why would anyone (other than a teacher) want to do this? After having regained my composure and stopped feeling sorry for myself I started thinking like a parent/adult, yes, I do that occasionally.
While I understand the reason behind this idea “school districts look for ways to save money” I very seriously wonder if this is the way to do it. Is more time out of school to save money really worth the sacrifice? Don’t our children need more time IN school to improve their education? Not out of school. To be fair, I believe that they are considering making the other 4 days longer school days but I don’t think it’s a fair trade off. Isn’t almost 3 months off for summer vacation already too much time off of school?
A recent article in Scholastic.com says that “American public schools are in crisis, experts say. Students in the U.S. are lagging behind those in China, South Korea, Germany, and other countries.” Well, just how much is the US lagging? Is it really that bad? I decided to do some research and the information and the numbers are a little scary.
There’s an article in the HuffingtonPost.com that says “The United States has fallen to "average" in international education rankings” and that “America has received scores around 500 on a scale that goes up to 1,000: 487 in math, 500 in reading and 502 in science.” Another article says that “The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.” (click here for full article)
What does this mean to me? It means that I should be worried. These statistics are nationwide, never mind that they vary by state and by city. My kids, ages 6, 8 and 10, have been in private school for the past 6 years. They have never gone to public school. This year that’s going to change. They will be attending a public school in our area. Even though I’ve been reassured by other parents that this school is one of the best public schools in the area, I’m still a little worried. Kids need more time in school and parents need to reinforce that learning at home.
When I was in school I remember I loved summer vacation, we all did. I liked not being in school and just vegetating for the entire summer (a la Phineas and Ferb style) What I didn’t realize then that I realize now with 3 of my own rugrats is that my brain actually was vegetating. I remember going back to school in September and the teacher “reviewing” what we learned the previous year and I could literally see the little swirls in my eyes from the overload. When had I learned all this? I could only conjure up little whispers of memories of possibly having heard the word algebra, or geometry, or DNA vs. RNA, blah blah blah . . .
This is exactly why the solution presented in the Scholastic.com article is SO appealing to me. School all year around!! It has absolutely nothing to do with that I don't want to deal with my kids over a summer break. PERFECT! LOVE IT!!! I am not biased whatsoever with idea. But seriously the idea is a great, solid one. And from what I understand there are already more than 3, 000 schools that have classes all year around.
“Now, before you go through with the plans you just made to run away and live in the woods, keep in mind that most year-round schools have exactly the same number of school and vacation days as traditional calendar schools. The difference is in the way those days are organized. Year-round schools shorten summer break, often to about 5 weeks, then use that leftover vacation time during the rest of the year. You might, for example, get a three-week break in the fall, winter, and spring.”
So, moms and dads, you can stop running around your house screaming and asking God for patience not to tie them in chairs all day . Instead go beg your school to have year around classes. I know I am going to personally pitch my tent in front of my kid’s new school and beg and plead for them to keep my kids for the whole year.