Noticing how early schools let out for summer break this year brought back memories of some of my students sharing their sadness’s on the waning days of the school year. They reported that there was nothing to do and some said they had to stay in all day until a parent came home from work.

Parents reported that day programs in our town could cost close to $100 per week and that it was out of the question for more than one child. About 10 years ago when our town had numerous closures due to a few extreme winter storms, the school year was extended to the end of June. Our town’s superintendent decided those extra days would be half days and when I questioned this plan, she said she was thinking of the teachers and wanted to give them a break.

When I relayed some of my students’ sadness regarding the end of school, she was quite surprised, stating she had “never heard such a thing.” I had been thinking that since all grades and reports having been completed and submitted (no extensions), the final weeks could be quite enjoyable for both students and teachers either ensconced in our overly air-conditioned schools or maybe adding more outdoor activity time. Although I had always felt that frequent half days throughout the school year were somewhat disruptive if not disrespectful to working parents, I was impressed by the superintendent’s concern and appreciation for teachers.

So here we are, 2019, some school districts have been out for weeks, and we are focused on the 2020 presidential election and the 20 plus Democratic candidates, expressing their concerns for our country. A number have mentioned their concern for teachers and their intentions to support them with proposed pay raises from $13,000 increases to starting salaries being mandated at $60,000.

Wow, the times may be changing, and this might be the time to add more needed proposals.

So, here’s an idea. Those raises could cushion the runway for a longer school year helping us start to catch up educationally to the rest of the industrialized world. We could add, along with universal preschool, an additional month to the school year in every district. The candidates cite that teachers should be compensated as the true professionals they are. I agree, believing that increased compensation and commitment of time have always been a hallmark of professionalism.

Janet Hutchins is a retired educator and anti-racism advocate.

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6 Comments

  1. Public Schools are not a babysitting service. It is up to the parent to care for their own children when school is not in session. This is not promoting education but free day care. NO.

  2. Children spend too much time in school and in other structured activities already, more time is not the answer, quality of time spent on task is the solution.

    Greater quantity does not equate to greater quality but quality of time spent on task consistently produces better results than quantity of time spent on task; this is a constant of human behavior and development.

    Our nation, our people, and our culture reaped far greater results and achievements from the products of our educational system historically than in our recent history and especially pre 1979.

    It is time for our society to stop focusing on the exception and rewarding aberrant behavior and to start focusing on what is best for the silent majority of students and rewarding efforts of academic achievement once again; effort is nice but results are what make the difference.

    It is totally inappropriate that our public schools remain open for certain children in particular areas when classes are not in session in order to feed and provide for custody of children during the day as their parents do not provide the care that they require. That is not the intended mission of public education and another reason why the schools are failing at their intended purpose in our present time. Hold individual parents accountable for the care of their own children; that is not the responsibility of the schools, the government, or our society.

    As TMDC posted, “NO”.

    Incidentally, I wonder if the author wanted teachers to work more throughout the year prior to her own retirement.

    1. Right on Two! If I read the stats correctly we compete well internationally until our urban schools are thrown into the mix. If we really want to get all this whoa is me off our backs we need to double our efforts to improve our inner city schools. And there’s the rub. It’s not really about the schools. It’s about the socio-economic problems in the inner city that drive the problems in its schools. And solving that my friends is the cultural equivalent of curing cancer.

  3. I want see someone get the teachers union on board with no summer vacation every year and let’s see how that goes. Yes i do understand that some teachers do work the summer but most dont

  4. How early schools were out? Are you kidding? My kids were in school from the last week of August until June 14! I wouldn’t consider that a short school year.

  5. “some of my students sharing their sadness’s on the waning days of the school year.” Are you kidding? Students lamenting the end of school? No wonder your boss said “I never heard such a thing”. Nobody has.

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