Friday, December 3, 2010

161 Days in School?!?!!!!????

Last night I attended a meeting at our local public school. Our superintendent was the guest speaker. He spoke to the crisis currently facing schools here as well as across the state and nation. Over the last couple years, our district has reduced staff by 10%, followed by a big reduction in school days. We are now at an unbelievable 161 student-contact days a year. (And this doesn't take into account whether they are completely "full" days...we have one day a week of "late start" to boot!)

Many states have a mandatory 180 day school year, so we now have about a month less of school than many districts. In November we had what the superintendent called our "forced fall spring break",--a full week off of school for Thanksgiving--followed by a 4-day week, a 5-day week, another 4-day week, then almost 3 weeks off for winter break.

Can you spell P-I-T-I-F-U-L????

At the same time, standards are going up and up and up. Teachers have more and more pressure. (I've seen the trenches and they're not pretty.) Kids are frequently tested. All while class sizes increase. In one school district in our state all the 4th grade teachers have more than 30 in the class and several have 37!

What do I feel?


When I hear all the bad news, on the one hand, I feel like patting myself on the back. I started my 8yo's school year in June. We're almost done with 18 weeks of school. We're even ahead in some subjects that we didn't start until September.

On the other hand, I feel SICK. I have children who are directly affected. And even if I didn't I should care. A LOT. These are the children who are going to grow up and run our world. Kids only have ONE opportunity to be first graders. Seventh graders. Seniors. To learn to read. To learn critical thinking. We are losing a generation to a failing system. And even if I didn't care about all those other kids? At any time, any of us might have to send our children to school--due to health reasons, special student needs, finances...the list goes on.

With all due respect to my superintendent...I don't think a large, local committee can solve the problem. We have a huge problem as a nation.* [*Please note, this is NOT a political statement. This is a "what do we want for our future" statement. I do not consider them the same thing.] I hope it doesn't take us several generations to figure it out.


  1. This is pitiful indeed, and I wonder how we as working parents without family nearby are going to handle so many days off in school year. I suppose we really have to look at some sort of backup care.

  2. @ Raising a Happy Child...I don't know what in the world working parents do. We have late start Wednesdays (kids go in an hour son starts school at 10 am!), tons of 4-day weeks (I should check to see if we have as many 4-day weeks as 5, because it's probably close), and many, many additional "cut days." And, as the superintendent is saying, we need to cut a LOT more. Somewhere. Problem is there is no where left to cut!


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