We’re Back to School purists.
And we can see through a line of BS.
That’s why we don’t understand why Schuylkill County schools start a new term BEFORE Labor Day.
Back to School Before Labor Day
This morning, August 26, thousands of children across Schuylkill County head back to school. You don’t even need that great of a memory to remember when school started AFTER Labor Day.
And have you ever heard a really solid argument as to why the change was made?
Why did schools in Schuylkill County switch from starting after Labor Day to a week prior to the unofficial end of summer?
We’ve never heard a logical argument in favor of starting before Labor Day. And we don’t think one exists.
So, let’s break down these weak cases for an early start to the new school year:
“We Get Out Earlier”
This is the one we hear the most. And it’s the weakest of all the arguments.
For example, let’s take a look at one school calendar: Blue Mountain School District.
Most of their students head back to school on Monday. And on Friday, they get a day off for the Labor Day weekend holiday. Tack on another day off for Labor Day itself, and in the first two weeks of school, students are in class for 8 days. If they’d started after Labor Day, they’d only be 4 days behind the early schedule.
So, instead of wrapping up the term on June 5, 2020, students would finish on June 11, if they started after Labor Day. (There’s a weekend in there.)
180 days is 180 days no matter when you do them. Saying, “you get out early” ignores that you’re starting earlier.
Add to this that schools seem to err on the side of safety a lot more than they used to with winter weather. Schools could call off 4 days before the end of the calendar year sometimes, so you may not even hit Christmas and you’ve already lost that 4-day advantage you got by starting early.
It’s important to remember in all these other arguments, that what we’re really talking about here is just 4 school days.
“It’s What They Do In … “
OK, when we said the “We get out earlier” argument was weakest, we forgot about this one.
Yes, schools in different parts of the country start sooner than others. According to this (sorry) CNN report, some schools in Hawai’i start in late-July. A lot of Southern schools traditionally started class before Labor Day but that was because of a link to the agriculture industry there.
In the Northeast, where we are, school traditionally started in September, after Labor Day.
Doing something because others do it … let’s pretend no one made that argument here, but they have.
“We Get More Time to Prepare for State Tests”
Again, we point to the 4 days gained by starting school in August.
First of all, we doubt that those 4 days are going to be game changers for a lot of students. And that’s not to say that test prep days can’t be front-loaded into the traditional school calendar to make this point moot.
And then, when you hear this argument, do you need any more proof that schools are teaching to pass tests?
“No One Takes Those Last Days Seriously Anyway”
OK, this may be true. One of the joys of a long school year was the luxury of taking it easy at the end. Teachers wheeled in the TV/VCR cart, turned on a movie and we called it Days 178, 179, and 180 of 180.
Now, just because those days are now in early June and not the middle of the month, doesn’t mean they’ll be taken any more seriously. So, those days when students and teachers kinda take it easy would just be moved up. They’re still going to be the last days of the school year, if they’re in June, May, or February.
Those are 4 arguments we hear most often as to why school now starts in late-August and not after Labor Day. And when you hear these arguments coming from the people in charge of the schools, you have to start wondering what’s going on in these buildings all day.
Do they apply this logic and reasoning to their work?
So, let’s talk about why this new school calendar is a terrible idea.
The Case Against School Before Labor Day
There’s no logic behind the decision to start school before Labor Day here.
We think it’s just power-hungry local school boards and school administrators forcing you to work around a schedule they create. They’ve usurped the end of summer and tried to feed you several lines of nonsense to justify this revolutionary decision.
Better Schools? No Proof
They say it makes the school run more efficiently but it hasn’t. Two local schools (Pottsville and Blue Mountain) had to delay early starts to school years because of mold detected late in the summer.
And then they say it’ll improve student performance, but we haven’t seen any indication of that, either. In fact, Schuylkill County’s schools continue to lag behind state averages.
An Unnecessary Disruption
Think about this: Many Schuylkill County families like to get away for one last shore trip. And Labor Day weekend is a great time to do that. After all, it’s the unofficial end to summer.
But the new school schedule really makes that nearly impossible.
Rather than thinking about that end-of-summer beach trip, families now have to adjust to a new school schedule before Labor Day. That’s a lot of new routines after a summer of getting up late and slouching around the house in front of their phones.
And how nice of them, they get you all ready just to give you the last day of the week off from school. It means that routine you just started is already disrupted. And you’ll have to get your no-school routine (arrange a sitter, etc.) in order right away.
By the time that first week of Back to School is over, you’d have to have super-human strength to have the energy to pack the family to the beach.
Maybe we’re missing something here but a logical reason to start school early doesn’t seem to exist.
It seems this decision was made simply because it could be.