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Education Government United States

Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round? 421

Posted by timothy
from the home-schooling-never-stops dept.
Around the world, American schools' long summer break is viewed as an anomaly, and the long summer seems to be getting shorter. While most American primary and secondary schools used to start after Labor Day, more and more of them now open sometime in August (and that's not counting the ones that have gone to a year-round schedule). Some of my younger relatives started a new school year last week (in Indiana), while Baltimore schools start later this month. Both Seattle and Portland's kids have until after Labor Day (with start dates of the 3rd and 4th of September, respectively). The 4th is also the start date for students in New York City's public schools, the country's largest district. Colleges more often start in September, but some get a jump start in August, especially with required seminars or orientation programs for new students. Whether you're in school, out of school, or back in school by proxy (packing lunches or paying tuition), what time does (or did) your school-year start? Would you prefer that your local public schools run all year round, if they're of the long-summer variety? (And conversely, if your local schools give short shrift to summer, whether that's in the U.S. or anywhere else, do you think that's a good idea?)
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

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  • by Firethorn (177587) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:07PM (#47639373) Homepage Journal

    Kids should have at least a couple of months out of the year when they can just not worry about their studies and have fun and BE KIDS.

    Sure. Give them 2-3 weeks a season. 3 months off in the summer currently means that they spend the first month back getting back into the swing of schooling and relearning some of what they've forgotten.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:11PM (#47639401)

    american education either sucks or is very good (depending on where you live). I used to live in cupertino and the rent was crazy and its now TOTALLY crazy (my previous LL wanted to raise the rent $400 more each month because, well, she thinks she can; and the stupid parents who think their snowflakes NEED the local school system are willing to pay thru the nose). people move away from areas just to get away from bad (or normal) school systems.

    if you come from another country and raise kids you, it seems you care a lot about school and will do anything to get your snowflakes into 'the best schools'; but americans seem to care very little, push their kids into sports more than academics and the rest of the world is overcoming us in how educated the kids will be.

    given all that, just to stay competitive, I'd say yes, have school all year round. a 2 week break here and there would help allow for vacations and a few 2 week breaks instead of a long summer break makes much more sense to me, anyway.

    most parents hate having their crotchfruits hanging around the house all summer, anyway. when I was growing up, we went off to camp during the summer (even if only day-camp). so that's another reason to have school all year round; it will save money for parents who don't want to have to pay for summer camps and things like that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:19PM (#47639443)

    american education either sucks or is very good (depending on where you live).

    A grand majority of it sucks. And, from what I've seen, people who think their schools are good usually just don't know what a good education even looks like to begin with, though that's not always the case.

    given all that, just to stay competitive

    Competitive? At what? Education isn't about getting jobs or any other such nonsense; it's about furthering people's understanding of the universe. Schools shouldn't be job training, unless they're trade schools.

    I dropped out of public school, and I dropped out for a damn good reason; it was awful. More of it would have only made me despise it even more. Fortunately, I got into a good state university and saw what education was supposed to be like.

  • by the phantom (107624) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:44PM (#47639545) Homepage

    First off, there would be no need to change the compensation. Teacher are currently contracted and paid to teach for nine months out of the year. Since year round schools also only hold classes for nine months out of the year, the amount of time spent teaching is the same and the contracts require no major changes.

    Second, I and many of the teachers that I have worked with *really* like the year round schedule. I can't speak for every teacher, and there are certainly a lot of teacher that prefer the traditional schedule, but I find the year round schedule to give me more useful freetime. On the one hand, I can more efficiently plan for shorter periods of time (I can make plans and have a chance of getting to them before I have completely forgotten what I was thinking---late September to mid December is a much easier period of time to plan for than mid August to mid December). On the other hand the year round schedule means that I am off when other people are still in school (and since year round schedules can vary quite a lot, even if everyone were year round, I would still be off at a different time from many people), which means that I can get into tourist attractions (Yosemite or Disneyland or whatever you prefer) without having to fight massive crowds. My experience with working in year round schools has been much better than my experience in traditional schools.

    None of this, of course, takes away from the argument that teachers ought to be paid more (which I think they should). I just don't think that a year round schedule makes much difference in that debate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:01PM (#47639607)

    With 5 children, my mother in law (a retired Catholic School Teacher) told us to Home School for public and some Christian Schools were not good anymore. Education changed drastically. So we home schooled YEAR ROUND. Oldest made one B+ and all A's in College and graduated at the top of her class. 2nd oldest also made one B+ and then all A's thru the rest of undergrad and grad school. She finished at the top of her two classes.
    3rd child is an A- and B+ student in Accounting. She is entering her senior year. Oldest son starts as freshman to major in Engineering & Computer Science (Robots on horizon for him) and he has full tuition paid for his test scores on the ACT booted him up to that. Last child is 16 and wants music and probably Mechanical Engineering. Last three have been taking Mandarin Chinese for almost 8 years not and will continue. They all took/take piano and participate in Chemistry/Biology/Math/Language labs from 4th grade onward. They don't have tattoos/rings or do drugs or Alcohol. They all got their drivers licenses at age 19 (not a day before) and that was after driving on permits for 2 years and driving school. My wife and I decided that the government did NOT know a darn thing about education, and therefore we took it under our own roof as our responsibility. I cannot think of a single thing positive to say about public education in todays world. In the 1950’s/1960’s when we went thru public education, it was different.

  • by Edgester (105351) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:15PM (#47639663) Homepage Journal

    In North Carolina, USA, There was a surprising opponent to year-round schooling. It was the tourism industry.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:23PM (#47639707)

    I mean, jeez! You only get to be a kid once. Let them enjoy those summer vacations. When I think back to my childhood, my fondest memories are during those summer vacations! Why the heck should we take that away from our future generations?

    They don't have to eliminate vacations to have year-round schooling.

    What they should do is FIRST give students a 10-hour schoolday, just like office workers have; so instead of getting out at 2pm, students start at 7am and school lets out at 5pm, with a 1hour break/lunch.

    Next they should give students a 2 week vacation every 4 months.

    And reduce the number of schooldays from 5 to 4, so students have Wednesday off for self-study and go to school Mon, Tue, Thu, and Friday.

  • A Different Approach (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DERoss (1919496) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:32PM (#47639731)

    I was an elected school board member in the 1980s. During that time, I would attend the annual California School Boards Association conferences.

    One year, I heard an interesting presentation on a form of year-round schooling. The presenter described a calendar in which regular classes would meet for 9 weeks followed by a 3-week break, making a four-quarter school year. The 3-week break would not be a break for all students. He pointed out that 9 months of failure could not be corrected in only 6 weeks of summer school, a ratio of 6.5 to 1. Instead, students not meeting expected academic performance would have to attend remedial classes during the 3-week break, a ratio of 3 to 1.

    It was already a noticeable problem in our schools that students would sometime miss classes because their parents took them on a skiing trip in the winter, to visit family in the spring, or to see fall color. As a member of the 2005-2006 County Grand Jury, I learned that this problem had grown worse county-wide in the 15 years after I left the school board. This radical calendar would provide 3 weeks off for those trips for students who were performing well in class.

    This calendar would also provide an extra 2 weeks around Christmas and New Year, when even remedial students and their teachers would be off. It would provide for all the holidays the state Legislature mandates on public schools. Yet it would still involve the full 182 days of instruction annually that the Legislature also mandates. By shifting teacher in-service days to the 3-week breaks, students would actually be learning during all 182 days.

    Of course, there would be increased costs for the remedial instruction and for the in-service days. That likely dooms this concept since too many members of the state Legislature think cutting taxes is the most important thing they can do, more important than educating our children, repairing our roads, assuring a supply of water, or anything else.

  • by tommeke100 (755660) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:37PM (#47639745)
    Research concluded that poor kids, where parents usually don't spend as much 'meaningful' time with the children, because they're busy working three jobs to get food on the table, actually lose knowledge (math, reading comprehension) during summer. Blue collar/middle class children usually were leveled whereas middle class/rich kids actually got a bit smarter during summer. (http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Summer_Learning_Loss/).
    So for some children there may certainly be a benefit to less vacation.
  • by joetomato (1073508) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @09:54PM (#47640155)
    With the three months off being all in one chunk over the summer, many teachers I know end up getting a summer job, waiting tables or cleaning houseboats or whatever. If you were to split that time up into a couple week chunks throughout the year it would pretty much take away that option.
  • by bussdriver (620565) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @10:18PM (#47640207)

    Yes, farming was a big reason.

    Summer cooling is expensive. Teachers should be paid more if they work more. Nobody would work 2 more months per year at the same pay. (Teachers end and start at different dates than the students.)

    I learned a great deal during the summer vacation. Don't let school interfere any further with your child's education!

    More children need to be allowed to FAIL... and spend their summer saving face so they can be with their peers again.

    Not that anything matters when you have a system geared for rote learning to pass standardized multiple guess exams; ignoring all the less quantifiable education or things not deemed important enough to regiment into a rigid exam system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @11:11PM (#47640367)

    The second you stop a kid from experimenting with something he's interested in you moved from educating to schooling.

    I would literally ignore homework from school to sit and learn C++ and unix in my moms basement when I was in 6th grade.

    When school was trying to force me to do crap that did not mater, I was trying to learn programming and computer science because it was so amazingly interesting. School though would have nothing of it. Blocked me from taking computer courses until Junior year of High school. According to them I had a bunch of "pre-reqs" despite that I already was writing 2d and some 3d video games in my spare time at home before even getting into high school.

    I ended up moving out on my own at 18 and started realizing that driving 40 minutes back to my high school every day was just getting in the way of my job (computer system builder) and I started slacking off even more. Senior year my government teacher decided my slacking would result in a failure despite my passing grade of 77%. So he failed me which meant I never got a diploma.

    So that pushed me to prove to everyone how wrong all this bullshit was in the first place. At 19 years old less than one year after not graduating, I met someone at a conference who gave me a very lucrative job as a network engineer (60K+ at 19yrs). Then my crazy love of programming got me a new job as a developer, then a few companies later I'm now a Senior Architect clearing $100K and was offered partnership of the firm I work for. All this before turning 27 and I still don't have a high school diploma, GED, or any other actual certification or "papers".

    I wouldn't even get an interview if I tried shopping the job market with my "credentials". However I never let my schooling interfere with my education and after I clear my first million next year, I'm going to consider mailing a copy of my W2 to my high school with a note saying "No thanks, paved my own way and I *was* right after all."

    Screw school. It has only been a detriment after about 7th grade. I learn on my own and I don't need them to direct my learning.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 10, 2014 @12:58AM (#47640559)

    School is not and never has been about education, it's about indoctrinating

    What nonsense. What absolute nonsense.

    Maybe you dislike the school system that you've been put through. (I myself went through 8 different systems before getting my high school diploma.) I've heard some real horror stories about some school systems, very much matching the complaint that you provide.

    However, to say that school has *never* been about education is such ridiculous rubbish. You're extrapolating way, way beyond reasonable possibility. Even if that was actually true about your experience, certainly (at some time, somewhere) there has been a school that has been focused on education.

    You just shot your credibility in the foot. I now consider you to be extremely unreliable. As a result, I'm never again trusting a post by Anonymous Coward.

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