All year long…

Lately, I’ve heard quite a bit about year-round school vs. traditional calendar school in the local news:

Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr. ruled Thursday that the Wake County school system can not force students into year-round schedules.

Which leaves a lot of people wondering – where are these kids going to go? They can’t build schools fast enough, and the students keep coming. According the article, they’re trying to come up with all kinds of options, but the only other one that seems possible is splitting the day – having an “early shift” (approx. 7-12:30) and a “late shift” (approx. 1:30-7) for students.

Parents don’t want that, either.

So perhaps a little background is important. Year round school is generally nine weeks on, three weeks off. This means that students and teachers would be in school for nine weeks (already the typical grading period), with three-week breaks between. For a lot of families, it’s hard to find childcare every two months for a month. I can see the issue there, though don’t a lot of parents typically have to find childcare for three months once a year, anyway? Seems like that would work itself out (highschoolers looking for babysitting jobs, camps that would cater to year-round school schedules, etc). And, I would think that typical family vacations are three weeks or less, anyway.

There are always exceptions, but on the surface, year-round schooling doesn’t seem to be a problem. There are a lot of opinions as to the actual benefits regarding retention, but nobody seems to think academics are suffering due to year-round schedules.

However, Wake County and a lot of other overcrowded school districts are using the year-round scheduling on a track system to help maximize the number of students that can learn in a given building. It sounds like a good idea, but it becomes a clusterfuck when you realize that parents with multiple children will sometimes have kids on different tracks. Teachers have to share classrooms – moving out of their room every nine weeks and moving into a new room three weeks later.

As a future teacher, the notion of moving all my crap every grading period does not make me happy. I’d rather have it all there, organized, where I need it. Part of the appeal of teaching is having my own classroom… it just seems so temporary

But what are these school systems supposed to do? This is a lose-lose situation for everyone, and compromise isn’t coming easy. I know that Wake County is doing everything it can to accommodate these kids, but there are just too many.

Tempers are flaring on both sides of this issue, as parents fight for both sides, school systems struggle to come up with a good plan, teachers worry that they’ll be shuffled around…

The saddest part is, it’s the kids who are caught in the middle.

This is a pretty good resource for the pros/cons of year-round school… it appears to be fairly balanced.

2 thoughts on “All year long…

  1. Jen says:

    I assume some things are different between elementary and high school, with rooms being one of them, but I’d be surprised if you got a classroom to yourself even on a traditional schedule now. There are so many students in any school system and just not enough classrooms for all teachers to have one. We’re lucky at East in my department because our Dept Chair works really hard to make sure no one has to move more than once during the day and that the one move we have will be connected with a planning period. A lot of (especially first year) teachers aren’t that lucky and teach in 5 different classrooms for 5 periods.

    Many year-round schedules aren’t actually 9 months on, 3 weeks off; most that I know of in NC actually have the 3 weeks broken down into 1 week in the middle of the quarter and 2 weeks at the end, or some variation of that. Personally, I’d think that would be a better schedule for students and teachers, especially to prevent burnout and for students of low-SES. There are plenty of studies that show that students who don’t have many resources outside of school drop off in every area of their education during the summer so that they start each fall with a deficit that students with resources don’t experience.

    I personally think the entire Wake Co. issue is ridiculous. First, the schedule wouldn’t be nearly the problem parents are making it out to be, since companies that use a school calendar to determine their business would just cater to whatever the school calendar is. Frankly, my opinion is that the reason parents don’t want year-round schools is b/c middle class parents see school as what got them to be as successful as they are and they think if you change the school from what they knew, somehow their kids won’t get the same benefit from education. That’s one of the reasons that most educational initiatives fail–not because they aren’t useful and beneficial for students and teachers, but because middle class parents think that if the status quo school was okay for them, it’s best for their kids. I don’t think that Wake Co.’s plan is going to work, not because year-round school doesn’t work, but because even with year-round schools, they need more schools and they don’t have them because the same parents who complain about year-round schedules won’t pass tax raises to fund more schools.

    The only good argument I’ve ever heard against year-round teaching is that teachers need the whole summer off so they can supplement their income with a summer job. After all, even though the schedule is supposed to free up money to pay teachers, that’s never what money actually gets used for in real school systems.

  2. Miss Fox says:

    I hadn’t really considered that high school teachers often share classrooms. My initial reaction was that elementary teachers need to stay in same classroom because they need more… well, stuff… but then it occurred to me – that’s not true, at all. High school teachers need just as much or more stuff than elementary teachers, they’ve just gotten used to having to move it regularly, so have pared it down.

    And that’s really sad.

    I’d say we should try to find a way for all teachers to have “permanent” classrooms, but that’s not really a solution, now, either.

    I guess we all just need to get really good at doing what we can with what we’re given.

    I think the core problem with Wake County is that parents refuse to listen to the truth, for many of the reasons you listed. People resist change, and a lot times even refuse to at least listen to the possibility that change might be a good thing.

    I think you’re absolutely right about taxes, too – I’ve always argued with people who don’t want to pay more taxes… where do they think our paychecks come from? Essentially, every time somebody says “I hate paying taxes” they’re telling me “I hate paying your salary.” The fact that systems need the money to build new schools and parents keep refusing to pay more (or even suggest where else we might get the money) makes it all the more frustrating.

    Especially when you add in the fact that Wake County has been considering getting local businesses to build them schools (since they can usually do it faster), and then leasing them 30 years or so – and parents are fighting that, too.

    To the parents who refuse to compromise: You moved to Wake County, you had kids… take some fucking responsibility and stop acting like spoiled children.

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