Year Round Schools~~Yes or No?

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Jodi - posted on 01/13/2013

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But Evelyn, why should they work MORE hours for that $50K? I don't disagree that people may be able to live well on that wage in some places (I imagine your doctors and lawyers are on about that too??), but again, my main question is WHO pays for the additional wages that should be paid if teachers are required to work more days? After all, they shouldn't have to sign up for more days on the same wage. The article YOU posted was about more hours, not about different breaks. I am arguing different breaks would be suitable. As for the premise of the extra hours in the article, WHO pays for it, and how would that be beneficial?

Jodi - posted on 01/13/2013

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Maybe spreading out the breaks is a better solution. Here in Australia, we have 6 weeks over summer (sometimes 6.5-7), 2 weeks in autumn, 2 weeks in winter and 2 weeks in spring. So all up, we have a 40 week school year (with public holidays, etc, that probably makes it about 195 days a year) and 12 weeks of breaks, which, except for summer, are fairly evenly spread out. Australia outperforms the US in education. After all, 10 weeks is a LONG break.

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Elfrieda - posted on 02/28/2013

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If the summer break was shorter and they peppered the breaks around the year, that I might not mind so much. (but it would be too bad for all the kids/teens who help with farmwork or have jobs in it, they already often miss September because that's harvest time and then have a difficult time catching up)

But to have MORE school? No, no, no. I'm struggling with accepting that my son will be going in to full-day kindergarten instead of every other day.

Sandra - posted on 02/28/2013

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My child was struggling terribly before his school switched over to the year round school calendar. I felt my child was being forced to learn in such a compressed hurried manner. I had to get my son a tutor for many of his subjects. I felt as if the teachers would force these kids to memorize information for tests because they didn’t have enough time to teach it to them. After my son’s school switched over to a year round calendar, I started seeing his grades rising. I was so relieved when I saw that my son was no longer struggling. He no longer needed his tutor anymore! I would recommend that more schools look into year round schooling.

Evelyn - posted on 01/16/2013

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Jodi~Kids do have to get up very early to go to school. I know from the past with my kids that they had to be up at nearly 5:30 am to catch the bus by 6:30 am and they were the first ones on. School would start at 8 am. They would get out around 3-3:15 pm and ride home getting back by a little after 4 pm. I am not sure why they do go so early but the area they lived in was very rural as well. The US is very geared to the idea of standardized tests which I think are silly as they do not really show what a kid is capable of. In some school systems they actually spend more time on preparing for that test than they do the work they need to be learning. I think they need to test once a year every so often at maybe certain grades and stop testing every single year. I think they need new methods of teaching as the most used one is book, pencil and paper. Some schools have gone high tech in my area and hand out laptops or iPads but I have not seen them use them for school so much. The idea was to put the text books on the technology so the kids would have less to deal with....nothing like that happened. The kids instead used them for fun, downloading music or movies, Facebook, and other media.

Jodi - posted on 01/13/2013

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No, not at all, they are all interesting proposals, but I don't think the person writing this has truly considered WHY students in the US are behind other nations. They have suggested various reasons in this article, and in particular, have focused on time in the classroom. But it also notes that many of the countries who are much higher in their education attainments than the US are not spending longer in the classroom. So it must be something else that either the US is not doing right, or the other countries ARE doing right.

You could put it down to the time of day your kids go to school. Research has indicated that teens function better later in the day (and no, this is NOT due to late nights, it is a biological issue), and yet, in the US, from my understanding, school has quite early starting times. Here in Australia, we start at 9am and finish at around 3pm. I know there have been discussions to start perhaps a little later, such as 10am (and consequently finish later). But everything I have heard from people I know in the US, your kids start school significantly earlier than this.

But then again, what standards are they basing this on? That's right, it is yet another standardised test that is issued to a selection of students internationally every [3 or 4] years. Yes, yet another test to study for.......

And we must remember that standardised tests are often culturally biased, so is the US *actually* doing as badly as reported? Or is it that the US is just not teaching to this particular test and other countries are? Or is it that the US has teaching methods that are outdated, and needs to focus better on scaffolding learning?

Anyway, just some food for thought as to why I tend to have so many controversial comments and views on a topic like this - because there is no actual one answer, but if nothing else, more hours in a classroom is not the solution to what is a far more complex issue.

Jodi - posted on 01/13/2013

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Evelyn, I didn't suggest you did. The article suggested more school hours. However, in all fairness, the article did also suggest rotating teachers (which I don't agree with - it can take up to a term for a teacher and class to settle together, so rotating that is not such a great idea IMO) to keep the hours fair. I simply don't believe the proposals in the article are the answer.

Evelyn - posted on 01/13/2013

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I never said I wanted to add days or that they should be added. I just think that year round set up would benefit others just as much as it would the students with daycare costs, retention of materials taught, and giving parents more choice when to take vacations. If they did add days, they would have to come up with the pay somewhere. But as it stands here in the states, there are some schools so ill equipped to even run a school year, it is another story really, but its a wonder those kids get any education at all. Also, there are places in the states that also push kids through just to make room for the next group coming up. THere are a lot of kids in high schools that can't read at the eighth grade level let alone college text books. There are others who can not do any of the math that they need to do for college either. The system here is not as good as many might want it to be believed to be. There are other things that could and should be addressed. Why do you think a lot of people are homeschooling these days?

Dove - posted on 01/13/2013

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I am a HUGE fan of shorter, more frequent breaks. My niece goes to a school that is basically 3 weeks on and one week off and I only wish I could put my kids into that school (cost and school size issue). We have an 8-9 week summer break and it is too long. We all love breaks, but need the structure and routine of school as well. I know MY family would greatly benefit from a year round school system.

Evelyn - posted on 01/13/2013

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Where I live in the states, $50K is not crap because of the area it is in. A single person who makes that as a teacher or in another job could live fairly good on it. I live in a poor state compared to most and $50K here is a good salary for most people no matter what the job is.

Jodi - posted on 01/13/2013

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I think as long as you aren't talking MORE days, it's a non issue. The article was actually talking about more days at school, and that's not the solution. I described the Australian system. We do 4 x 10 week terms, with 6 week break in summer and 2 week break each other time. I see that as appropriate. I think breaking it down to MORE breaks than that could be disruptive to education, but fewer breaks would be inappropriate too. You guys DO have a large summer break, so I can see why this may be an issue. But it isn't the number of days in the education calendar that is the problem.

I also didn't suggest some teachers weren't paid enough, but many aren't (I know a few teachers in the US, and the pay for many is CRAP). It depends where you live. Teachers don't just work on the days the kids are at school (although many people perceive it this way). If you want to add extra days to their job, who is going to pay for it?

(I also wouldn't say $50,000 is that great, but then, where I live, the average experienced teacher earns $85,000 - and our dollar is on parity with yours, so by all means, tell me how $50K isn't crap).

Evelyn - posted on 01/13/2013

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The teachers were I live make a pretty good salary. Even in some of the smaller rural schools. I am not saying this is true other places. But some are known to make $50K a year. I do not think teachers as a whole do not get paid enough either. But at the same time, would not having a chance at a few more breaks help a teacher out?

Evelyn - posted on 01/13/2013

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Here where I live there are a couple of schools at the elementary level and the middle school level that are on year round schedules. It gives them some many weeks on and a week off, certain time off for holidays, spring breaks, and then about a month in the summer. Most of the other schools are on the normal school year of about 9 months on with breaks and then a longer summer. The reason was because of farmers and their need for kids to work the farm. We have long since left that life style behind. Now a lot of people may live in the country but they don't all have farms anymore.

I think a year round school system would benefit everyone. It would for one thing help parents with daycare issues so they do not have to find nearly 3 months of care over summers. It would give parents more choice for vacation times during years. Retention would be better on students. Give teachers a break at the same times as students. In some places having kids split during the year to go one time and the other set to go another would help with classroom over crowding. I do not think that the benefit would be in how much the children learn or having a longer day of school. I just think it would benefit as I said above.

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Honestly, I like the idea of year round school. I do not think we need more school days, but I think it would be beneficial to add more frequent, shorter breaks to the 180 days that we currently use.

For example, we have a 10 week summer break, a 1.5 week winter break, and a 1 week spring break. I think it would be good to extend the winter break by another 1/2 week, so that we have a full 2 week break there, and add 1 week breaks at the end of each quarter, which would shorten the long summer break to 5 weeks.

Here are my reasons.
First and most obviously is retention. Children tend to relax academically on breaks and forget a lot of what they've learned. Forgetting dates and events from history class may not have a big impact on their ability to move one, but forgetting the fundamentals of their latest math lessons can have a very big impact because math concepts usually build upon one another. Thus, teachers are forced to spend A LOT of time on review, which is quite honestly boring for most kids, and thus leads to less interest in school.

Secondly, and perhaps, selfishly--I like to travel, I like my son to travel, and the current schedule makes travel very difficult. The bulk of our time off is in the summer, but in my area summer is VERY HOT. In order to travel during the summer, we have to go north or it is just too hot to have a good time--we can't go to the Carribean in August! Then there is winter break, which is sort of centered around Christmas, except we don't get our early enough to travel before Christmas and be home in time (I like to be home for Christmas so that Santa can come to our home--it's a PAIN to ship Christmas). It's difficult to go after Christmas too, because our school starts back on Jan 2nd, so you'd have to fly on New Year's day, which is NO FUN, and even then, you've only got 5 days. Furthermore, because all schools are out close to the same times, popular destinations are packed during school breaks, and nearly deserted the rest of the time--I don't like crowds, so we tend to travel at "non-peak" times (plus it's cheaper), but now J is in school so we cannot. If schools had more frequent breaks, everyone wouldn't be pressured to go during the same break.

I know it seems selfish to want year round school just to make travel more convenient, but I think that children learn a lot traveling, and I feel it is a very important part of their educations.

Jodi - posted on 01/13/2013

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Obviously the person who wrote this isn't a teacher, LOL. I think you'll find that many would leave the profession if they did this.

However, part of a child's development is taking time out to BE a kid. This is an important part of children and adolescents working towards their self-identity. Denikka is right, the curriculum shouldn't focus on teaching to the test, but rather teaching the children the SKILLS they need. Skills isn't about memorising information, it is about how to get that information and be able to understand the information they are receiving. Just because a kid goes back to school and can't remember the year that the Civil War ended, doesn't mean they don't know how to check on that again and doesn't mean they have forgotten how it ended, etc.

More time in school is not the answer. More effective time in school is the answer. From everything I've read, the literacy rates in the US are well below MANY other competitive global economies, and it has nothing to do with time spent in class.

Firebird - posted on 01/13/2013

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After reading Denikka's response, I'm starting to wonder if older kids aren't spending too much time at school as it is. I 'learned' things in elementary school. I remember many of the things I learned there, even though I rarely use that information now. Like how to make an owl out of cotton balls.

I didn't learn much in high school. I learned how to temporarily memorize a bunch of things to get a pass on the test, but like Denikka, I don't remember much of it now. Quite frankly, most things I 'memorize' these days are only memorized on a temporary basis. I use it and forget it to make room for the next day I have to get through. An old school habit that never got broken. I 'learned' how to cook and how to handle food safely in high school, but that's about it.

I learned more during my first 2 years out of high school than I did while confined to the classroom. I learned things that I use every day, things that I need to know to get me through life.

Denikka - posted on 01/13/2013

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AAARRRGGG!!!
I'm Canadian and I cannot express how much rage I have for crap like this!!!

Yes, kids lose a certain amount of what they've learned when they're away over the summer. It happens.
MAYBE, if they stopped teaching the kids how to take and pass tests and actually starting TEACHING the kids again, they wouldn't have nearly as many problems!

I graduated school less than 5 years ago. You know what I remember from school? Pretty much diddly squat. Because I was never taught to understand it. I was only taught to memorize certain names, certain dates, certain formulas so that I could pass the next test. After that, it had no use until the end of the year exam, where it was gone over again so I could memorize it just long enough to get through the exams.

Just about everyone I know who graduated around the same time I did has said the same thing. They don't really remember anything they learned through high school (grade 8-12).

But you know what, I DO remember many of the fundamentals that I learned in the first few grades, in elementary school. Not because I use them every day. I can't remember the last time I actually needed to know what a pentagram was, or that penta means 5. Or what a trapezoid is. But I do remember.
I haven't done any handwriting in years, but I can still do it.
I rarely have any need to multiply or divide without a calculator, but I still can.
I can still remember the basic water cycle. Evaporation creates clouds, until the water droplets get to heavy and fall as rain, go back into the system and then the cycle continues.

These are things that I don't really need to know in every day life. These are things that I haven't used in at LEAST 5 years, if not closer to 10. But I remember them because I wasn't just memorizing facts to get through a test in a couple weeks, I LEARNED these things.

The school system is so broken that it's no wonder that our kids aren't up to par with the rest of the world.
Not to mention the general lack of parental involvement, the screen time, the laziness, and the multitude of other problems that are abounding in the world.
It's got NOTHING to do with how much time the kids spend in the school setting. Teach the kids to LEARN again, not to memorize.

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