School’s Out—or Not

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For generations of American children, summer has brought months of freedom from the academic schedule. But that's no longer true for the more than 2 million K-12 students enrolled in year-round schools, which sprinkle shorter breaks throughout the calendar. We asked two educators who have experienced both systems:

Should long summer breaks be a thing of the past?

With year-round education, we’ve discovered that the children seem able to carry over information from one session to the next without losing a lot of knowledge.
Our summer break is about five weeks, and they can go from one grade to the next with very little review.
When I taught with a traditional schedule, I found the children really backtracked over the summer.
We have three-week breaks about every nine weeks. It’s like having four starts to the year instead of one.
Every time they come back, they’re excited to see their friends and teachers and to learn again.
They have that excitement several times a year. There’s also a time during the year when children who need a little extra work can get help.
For the teachers, there’s less burnout because you get more breaks during the year. Teaching is tiring; it’s hard work.

Joan Anderson teaches 2nd and 3rd grade at the School For All Seasons, an optional year-round program within the Isanti Intermediate School in Isanti, Minnesota.
We’re a blue-collar community. Most people here get vacations in June, July, and August. During other breaks, the kids are at home by themselves because parents can’t get off work.
A lot of teachers in our system feel like you just get things going and then you have to take a break. You have one break after another and it never stops.
With the regular school calendar, the discipline is better and the students are more focused. It gives us more time to prepare kids for the state tests.
Financially, the short summer break really hurts teachers who work during the summer. And many of the students need to work or they’ll never be able to go to college. We have a lot of students in one-parent families.
The electricity to run our new high school for the month of August costs $20,000. That money would be much better spent serving the children.

Duncan Blankenship teaches 7th grade social studies on a year-round schedule at Model Middle School in Rome, Georgia.

Vol. 18, Issue 06, Page 10

Published in Print: May 1, 2007, as School’s Out-or Not
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