Tuesday's news about an outstate school district "killing" spring break from its calendar has generated some lively comments from readers about the pros and cons of such a week off. An agitated "Morg" offered the following comment:
In the Apple Valley/Eagan/Rosemount district they would save ink by printing the days they DO have school on the calendar. Seems like there is always some sort of a teacher's workshop or some other excuse to call off school. Here's a novel idea: have your workshops in the SUMMER, when there IS NO SCHOOL. They just had a short week for MLK Day and now there's no school again this Friday for some idiotic reason. Also, why is there a need for Spring Break at all? Are the kids and teachers too overworked? Too bad. They can wait another two months and use their 3 MONTHS off to recover. With schools constantly whining about never having enough money how can they justify having these buildings sit empty so many days throughout the school year?? They need to be there at all times during the school year. Enough of all this time off. Also, judging by the many posts I read on these comment threads where people still can't figure out basic English like you're/your, then/than, there/their/they're, maybe they better think about eliminating summer break as well. Looks like we can use all the education we can get.
Setting aside the hyperbole -- and the inference that workshops are somehow sunny vacation days for teachers -- the comment reminded me of an eye-opening presentation earlier this month. The U of M's Kent Pekel spoke to a group of early childhood leaders Jan. 11 about the need to restructure how education and childcare is organized. Among his points was the relative brevity of the school year. Here is the full calendar:
And here is the school calendar when you take out the summer break:
And here is the school calendar when you take out weekends and major holidays:
And here is the school calendar when you take out professional development days and conferences:
And here is the school calendar when you take out other common holidays and spring break:
And lastly, here is the school calendar when you also subtract days for state and standardized testing:
Yikes! As a parent of kids who are 10 and 8, I don't think about this as much through the lens of whether the school calendar needs to change or whether spring break goes away. This is their reality. My bigger question: what am I doing as a parent to supplement the apparently limited time in which my kids are at school to learn? Parents, I'd love to see your strategies in the comments below. In what ways are you trying to supplement your kids' education!!!