Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

August 4, 2013

Question Time: Sound the bell, school is in

When should kids return from summer break?

[Editor’s note: To participate in future queries, keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.]

Is it seriously time for students to head back to school? It is? Well, in that case: “In your opinion, what exact date do you think students should return to school from summer break and why? Or, do you support a year-round schedule, and, if so, why?” As a side note, before we asked this week’s question we had no idea how contentious it would get. As you’ll see, even the terminology at play (“year-round school” vs. “balanced schedule”) was a point of dispute.

Your Answers

“Balanced calendar. You get MORE time off school. It’s spread throughout the year giving those of us who work outside of the school system the opportunity to take family vacations at other times besides the middle of summer. It helps kids with retention. It’s a win-win. We really want to plan the school year around the state fair? Wow.” — Aimee McCollum Romero

“After Labor Day to Memorial Day. The summer is too short for the kids. There are some days in there that they could take out of the calendar and have the kids go. Like fall break in October and parent-teacher conferences. When I was in school, parent-teacher conferences were in the evening all week long so the teachers weren’t at school longer than 6 p.m. They could do some changes because Aug. 8 is way too early. Maybe they should try the school calendar like the colleges.” — Heather Gonzalez

“Maconaquah has the balanced schedule and it is very difficult for my son. He has trouble getting back into his schedule of school, and never wants to go back after the two weeks off! I liked it better when we went late August to end of May or the first week of June.” — Stephanie Breedlove McKee

“Year-round school. I have a student with [an Individualized Education Program] and the Christmas break is long enough to start forgetting stuff, and, yes, we work with him every day. Education structure gets lost with the big summer break, plus he loves school. … It’s a good idea and worth a try. Our children are entitled to a chance anyway.” — Samantha Nixon-Phillips

“Our school does a ‘balanced schedule’ that everyone refers to as year-round school. We start two weeks sooner, which was yesterday. We go for nine weeks and have a two-week fall break. We go for nine weeks and get a two-week Christmas break. Then, we go for nine weeks and get a two-week spring break. We still get out of school the end of May. For the first week of the two-week break, some kids go half a day if they need caught up or extra help. It really isn’t that bad. We’ve done this for three years now and we like it.” — Tracy A. Wibel

Our Answers

“I really don’t think students should return to school until after the Labor Day weekend. Kids should be allowed to enjoy the summer and the parents should be able to enjoy the entire summer as well and not try to cram their vacations, etc., in prior to an early return to school date. In the past, schools never restarted until after Labor Day and a lot of the reason for that was because lack of air conditioning in the schools. Although this really isn’t a factor anymore, it does still come into play in some schools. The early return to school dates are also minimizing the time the local pools and parks can maintain their schedules as well. I’m not a big fan of year-round school. Kids need to be able to enjoy their childhood before really having to grow up and deal with the day to day hum-drum of adulthood.” — Robin Harper

“I support a year-round schedule. It gives them two to three weeks off at a time for summer, holidays, etc. and they don’t get out of the routine as much as they do during the summer. Also, some kids get bored over the summer months and end up getting into mischief. This keeps them busy.” — Charlene Woodruff

“They should get a shorter summer break and maybe a little longer Christmas break. From my experience, you tend to forget a little bit when you take that much time off. It’s like college, you don’t want to wait too long after you graduate from high school before you go to college. You need to keep your mind sharp year-round.” — Mike Fletcher

“I could go on about this for ages. There’s no particular date that I’d want kids back in school, but late August is what seems most appropriate to me. Schools tend to get out in late May, giving the kids a quarter off. There’s no magic number. I thought expanded school years would be more scandalous, but I think parents like the state babysitting. As for year-round school, it’s awful. Kids are not paid for their hours of labor every day, nine to 10 months a year, over and over for the entirety of the lives that they can remember. The labor is unproductive (rewarded later with work), but it’s still labor. The reward is a yearly end to the drudgery. The final days of school are among the best in the kid year: Throwing out crap from desks and lockers, and being free of the oppression of The Man. To take that away from children would move us a step closer to authoritarian schooling that kids in many Asian countries go through. May as well take on 14-hour work days while we’re at it, and factory housing. I spoke to a coach a few years ago, about a different topic (the implied requirement that high school athletes are expected to practice with the school team all summer). The disdain in his voice was palpable when he talked about what else the kids might do in summer besides sweat at practice in summer heat, play video games? Gasp. Children playing, hanging out, enjoying a period where they don’t have to think about responsibilities imposed on them from people outside their families? The horror, the horror.” — Pedro Velazco

“When I was growing up, I never had the chance to experience year-round school so I can’t say for certain whether or not I would have enjoyed it more. I do remember when I was a child I couldn’t wait for summer break to begin in May and I dreaded its end in August. I can’t imagine skipping the 10 or 12 weeks of summer break, but like I said, I didn’t have anything else to compare it to. My first instinct would be to leave it the way it is, but I don’t have a compelling reason. When my wife and I have children we plan on home schooling anyway, so I’ll leave that one for everyone else to decide on.” — Rob Burgess

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/robaburg.

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