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POLL: Time for Year-Round School to Stop the ‘Summer Slide’?

It’s summer, and as kids' thoughts turn to mush, some people are arguing for a year-round calendar for America’s public schools. But is that the only way to increase U.S. students’ global competitiveness?

Written by Beth Dalbey 

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.

GW96 June 25, 2014 at 02:07 PM
Biil L., are you saying that people who teach do it for the money and fringe benefits and people who didn't go into it are jealous??? I don't teach because I would be horrible at it and to be honest I would lose my mind being around a bunch of snot nosed kids all day...so I didn't go into teaching, I did something I'm good at. I'm not jealous of teacher's at all, that job is the last thing I'd do.....but that doesn't mean I want them to get paid more than 95% of the population and rack up "sick days" when they barely work 1/2 a year in the first place, have an extremely good pension and benefits that they don't pay a cent into....all on the rest of our tax dollars. Also, teacher's are paid for the summer even though they don't work at all, so if they were to have to work all summer why should they have to be paid more??? I swear teaching is a better scam than counting cards.
Richard June 26, 2014 at 03:32 PM
I think its a good idea. It will help working parents and maybe they can have more downtime during the day for gym and recess. But the financial increases would need to be looked at.
EG June 26, 2014 at 03:40 PM
School isn't supposed to be day care. People need to pay for their own day care.
Debbie Forsyth June 27, 2014 at 01:17 AM
@GW6----Teachers do NOT get paid for the summer. They get paid for a 180 day school year. The Dept. Of Education decided to dole it out in 24 payments. Some schools in other counties in NYS have the option of getting paid in 20 payments or 24 payments. It's still the same annual salary divided by different numbers. Comes out the same either way. You get vacation time and it's part of your salary, not extra vacation pay, am I right?
Sticks60 June 27, 2014 at 03:05 PM
No matter how the money goes out they get paid in Smithtown, on average, $100,000 with a benefit package of almost $40,000. So maybe there should be a little more time spent working in the summer and making it more of a full time job like the rest of us seeing they get paid like us.

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