The decision by the Newton, Mass., school district to add two additional early release days to the school calendar—beyond the existing four—has some parents upset and worried, reports The Boston Globe. The school says it needs the time for teacher professional development. The parents say their children are being robbed of valuable lesson time.
Sharon DeCarlo, executive director of instructional programs in Newton, explained that teachers need planning time in order to provide quality teaching. “This is not time when teachers are off doing their own thing,” said DeCarlo. “The purpose [of the professional development] is for teachers to be planning high-quality learning environments.”
Many parents complained that the extra early release days conflict with work schedules and leave children without supervision in addition to the reduced learning time.
Newton schools still meet the state required 180 days of class and 990 hours of instruction time, even with their students leaving 45 minutes early every Tuesday.
Financial constraints play a role in the early release days. Keeping full instructional time while adding professional development time would require longer hours and increased pay in contracts. The current economic climate keeps that from being possible.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.