06/19/08 — The summer gap: Benefits of year-round school make it worth considering

View Archive

The summer gap: Benefits of year-round school make it worth considering

There has been lots of talk about how to improve test scores, how to stabilize student performance and how to keep children in school.

And there are a number of solutions.

But there is one option that many people might not have considered — especially those who rely on the public’s support to keep their posts.

Year-round school.

The idea isn’t very popular. In fact, several counties have already tried to implement such a plan and faced rabid opposition from parents in their communities.

But that doesn’t mean that someone shouldn’t bring it up here.

School was initially a nine-month enterprise because children were needed back on the farms. That was the purpose. Of course, that is not really the case today, but the summer vacation stuck.

The truth is that a gap in education is not a good idea for anyone, especially a young person who might be struggling to grasp some basic skills. Extra practice is vital to getting the math, reading and other proficiencies these young people need not only to make it to the next grade level, but to make it in life.

By keeping them in school and spreading their vacations out throughout the 12-month period, schools could help students not only learn the concepts, but to reinforce them with continued practice and applications. Elongating the school year could also allow for more creative educational options for students who are progressing quickly and could use a couple of weeks for outside-the-classroom experiences.

Year-round school does not mean school 365 days a year. There are liberal vacations — including a longer period in the summertime. There would still be time for family vacations and other opportunities. Students would actually attend the same number of days in most cases — although that might be something else to consider if this nation is really interested in improving education.

There are pros and cons to this approach. Many parents are concerned about child care opportunities as well as the wear and tear on their little ones. And fatigue and burnout are concerns to consider. But overall, there can be no harm in keeping children focused and interested in learning all year long — especially during this time when there are so many other distractions.

Teachers and administrators also should be asked to weigh in on this option.

At the very least, it is a discussion that should be taken up by this county’s school officials as they plan the next steps for giving Wayne County’s students the opportunities they need to succeed now and in the future.

Published in Editorials on June 19, 2008 10:53 AM