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Time for Year-Round School to Stop the ‘Summer Slide’? Patch Poll

It’s summer, and kids thoughts turn to mush, some proponents of a year-round calendar for America’s public school students argue. But is that the only way to increase U.S. students’ global competitiveness?

As schools close across the country for a three-month summer break, the question is as perennial as the blooms of summer: Should public schools go to a 12-month calendar and extend school days to increase U.S. students' global competitiveness?

The subject got renewed interest after a brutal winter in which students missed several consecutive days of school due to heavy snowfall, extreme cold from back-to-back polar vortex weather patterns, power outages and other weather-related events. In some school districts in Michigan, students missed as many as a dozen days.

Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, is joined by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in supporting year-round schools, USA Today reported in February. The concept involves adding more days, as well as shorter, more frequent breaks to the calendar.

Duncan thinks more hours in school “better prepares children to be successful in the 21st century.”

In a blog on The Huffington Post, “The Call to Teach: An Introduction to Teaching” author Matthew Lynch argues that though too few schools have adopted year-round calendars to scientifically measure their impact, it’s clear that at-risk students perform better without long summer breaks.

His conclusion is backed up in a 2011 report by The RAND Corp., which said the “summer slide” disproportionately affects low-income students.

But opponents say the research on year-round schools isn’t conclusive enough to justify additional operational costs. Tina Bruno, executive director of The Coalition for a Traditional School Calendar, says more time in school isn’t necessarily better.

“If we are really concerned and feel kids need more academic time, we can better use the time we have," Bruno told USA Today. "What we really need to focus on is providing students with the learning programs they need before we just say 'Give them more, it'll make it better.' “

Robbing children and their families of a long summer break isn’t the only suggestion to stop the learning leakage.

In an editorial for CNN, the chief executive of a national nonprofit says the summer learning loss is real and parents should find real-world activities to help reinforce brainy concepts of physics, for example, and come up with other ways to keep their children involved in learning.

Project Lead The Way CEO Vince Bertram points to research that shows kids lose about two months’ worth of learning in the summer, meaning that when they return to school in the fall, teachers have to spend the first few weeks of school in remedial sessions.

Tell Us:

  • Should America’s public schools adopt a year-round calendar? Take our poll and share your thoughts in the comments.

Bill June 26, 2014 at 09:26 AM
The first month+ of a new school year is spent reviewing what was lost over the Summer break. Plus, by the end of the Summer break, most of kids are pretty bored. So, I’d be in favor of Winter, Spring, Summer breaks along with the normal holiday vacations. 2 weeks off, would allow for families to get in some nice r&r, but would not be so long that the student would forget what they were learning. Our education system may not be broken, but there’s a lot of room for improvement - just ask a teacher.
Rhan Barnett July 09, 2014 at 11:20 AM
There is nothing worse that bad data and poorly researched editorial commentary to incite the wrong message. Arne Duncan is a politician, not a teacher. CNN, Project Lead the Way - seriously? If you will make a suggestion, then provide to research to support such a suggestion Ms. Tigue is dead-on the money, stating that the American social system has failed. "Above average" student performance is where the American educational system stands on the world stage ( 17th in world, Pearson Report, 2012). Under-performing and at-risk students should be retained or supported or both; but to amend an entire system on that basis is folly. The "summer -slide" or the anti-agrarian explanations are equally weak arguments - these are kids, who do deserve the time to be kids. Put simply, more class time and longer days are not necessarily wise solutions or will catapult the American public educational system to the forefront, particularly with the dysfunction that festers in our society and our "leadership". Furthermore, by altering a system that has not addressed daycare or after school care very well is certainly not prepared to address the family needs in the year-round school environment - ah, the social factors again! Teachers and teacher pay rates are based upon taxation - so how much are you prepared to have your taxes increase? The costs of operating school buildings? Lastly, the problems in education have become exacerbated by increased political reforms that have ALL been expensive, have ALL failed, and have ALL been based on the needs of the exceptions, and not the needs of the majority.
Lee Jacobsen July 10, 2014 at 12:59 AM
Teachers and teacher pay are indeed based on taxation, but year round school does not raise teacher's pay. They get an annual salary, they are not paid 'by the month'. The operation of school buildings is a fixed cost, and will be there whether the building is utilized or not. With many adult programs in session, they are already being used anyway. Talk about a weak argument for against year round school, "these are kids, who do deserve the time to be kids" You are kidding, right? The rest of the world is moving ahead, we need to play 'catch up'. The variable that compares American students to the rest of the world has remained constant, so the old ploy of other's country kids being hand picked is also a constant. Against that constant, in math for example, American kids have slipped in math from 8th to 32nd in the world. What has worked in education? Competition.Parent involvement. Parents, who control the state mandated school monies, are comparing schools, and sending their kids to the best ones. If the public schools can't do the job, aka Detroit, then charter schools are formed to fill the void. 34% of charter schools don't meet state standards. That's pretty good considering that 71% of public schools don't meet the same standards, and the Charter schools are usually in the most needed areas, where the public schools have failed. Finally, get rid of tenure. All it does is protect 'drone' teachers, most who have lost the desire to teach, and are just biding their time until retirement. A tenured teacher is almost impossible to fire for inept performancde. New , fresh idea teachers are always the first to be fired or laid off. Teachers should be the same as athletes , paid by merit, and should be able to negotiate their own contracts. Without good teachers, our kids won't learn. If you have a 'drone' teaching 3rd grade, and your kid is in the class, you will not be a happy camper. Again, time for year round school, and catch up to the rest of the world.
Mr Colombo July 18, 2014 at 02:45 PM
The issue is not that there is not enough school days - the issue is a mediocre educational curriculum that has no stability and consistency and the mediocre instruction. Singapore consistently ranks at the top of any world wide assessment of education - and the average Singapore student only attends 180 days of school - nearly the same as the average US school (with MI having 170 days as required by legislation) http://www.parentinginthedigitalage.com/2010/12/do-more-school-days-mean-better-test-scores/ Fix the curriculum and provide some consistency and stability and especially address the mediocre instruction - and educational standards will improve.
Rhan Barnett July 18, 2014 at 08:47 PM
I concur.

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