The Learning Curve is a weekly column that answers questions about schools using plain language. Have a question about how your local schools work? Write me at email@example.com.
At the last San Diego Unified school board meeting in July, one of the many contentious matters discussed in the roughly five-hour meeting was the decision over when the first day of school should be.
The district’s Calendar Committee, a group of stakeholders like teachers and parents, after months of research, surveys and deliberation, had voted 14-12 to change the 2018-2019 school year to begin after Labor Day.
Superintendent Cindy Marten recommended that school begin the week before Labor Day, splitting from the committee.
“I did not take this decision lightly,” Marten said. She said the district had one of the latest start dates in San Diego County and the past couple of years it had been starting before Labor Day, so she wanted to stay consistent.
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I think the crux of the article is in the last paragraph. Starting a week or two weeks earlier doesnt solve the issue of the summer slide, so long as students are just getting out in June a week or two weeks earlier. The problem is the number of days kids have off in the summer. The only real solution to that problem is to increase the number of instructional days, and consequently of course, that means paying teachers more. That scenario seems rather unlikely to me.
This article sidesteps what was the main issue concerning the calendar decision. As pointed out by Heather Worms, it wasn't about what the district selected as a start date; it was about how the the majority of the Board and the Superintendent disrespected the process to recommend an instructional start date based on analysis of data, a significant time spent by committee members, and the thousands of stakeholders who weighed in. After much fanfare to establish a more balanced committee and a process, the Superintendent Martin ignored the committee's recommendation and gave an entirely different recommendation without even consulting with the calendar committee members (until after the fact, if at all).
This paternalistic (maternalistic?) decision-making is universal in the district, with folks higher up the chain making all the decisions ignoring input from the stakeholders closest to the issue. Look no further than the budget cut decisions, but it also extends to the LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan).
To clarify the confusion expressed below, the number of instructional days is the same either way. The summer break is the same length for students on the traditional calendar, but for those students on the year-round calendar, starting earlier in the year means that their summer break is shorter (whereas a different break--historically their spring break--becomes longer). SDUSD reversed its commitment to transition all year-round schools to a traditional calendar because of their failure to properly budget the expense.
No. the break for Thanksgiving is now longer, the break for Christmas
is now longer, the break for Easter/Spring is now longer, and many
districts now have a "ski" week. Plus more in staff or half days.
So the same number of instruction days, but spread out over a longer number of weeks/months.
Maybe I am wrong but you may be missing a point. Starting before Labor day shortens the summer break ....once. The schools are still in session the same number of days. If you start the year early you end the year early. No???