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Roane County Schools has recently set the 2012-13 school calendar. A survey regarding the start date and length and placement of breaks is available on the website at Roaneschools.com.
As typical of any survey, there is no comment section to truly gage public opinion. I like the early August start date, and I enjoy using both the spring and fall break for quality family excursions. I would, however, like to advocate a much greater change to the school schedule. I want to see year-round school with a four-day school week.
The time has come for a year-round school cycle with vacation time evenly distributed throughout the year.
Student regression during the summer brain-drain months would be eliminated, as would the need to reteach skills. Remediation could be addressed during interim breaks, allowing students to continue to progress with their class. Childcare issues for working parents would improve with a more consistent school schedule.
We all know that the United States has lost its top ranking when our students are compared to those of other nations, and that in general, Tennessee ranks low nationally. The Programme for International Student Assessment put Finland, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea in the top spots for science, while Taiwan, Finland, Hong Kong and South Korea took the top spots in math. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development placed South Korea, Finland, Canada, and New Zealand in the top spots overall.
Our schools mandate 180 days of instruction as compared to 190 for Finland, 200 for Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and New Zealand, and 220 for South Korea. Even President Obama has shown interest in South Korea’s system.
We have shifted from an agrarian society with parents at home to a situation where adults work away from the home and children are home alone. It makes sense to couple our childcare needs with an increase in instructional time. In fact, some city systems such as Chicago and Baltimore are utilizing a six-day school week. Memphis City Schools have been considering it as of last year.
The schools provide a safe place to feed and instruct at-risk children in lieu of the failed family unit and have seen an increase in test scores.
Some 120 school districts in at least 20 states have implemented a four-day school week. Rural systems use the four-day week to save money, but it has been found that student performance was improved and a better environment was created for students and teachers.
School systems apply for grants to provide remediation while teachers also are available to attend workshops and conferences on Fridays.
Adding one and a half hours four days a week can actually increase total instructional time. Both student and teacher attendance and morale have been shown to improve. There are no half days of instruction which are disruptive to the classroom schedule and childcare requirements for parents. Don Kordosky, superintendent of the Oakridge School District in Oakridge, Ore., initially opposed the four-day week.
His system tried it out as a cost savings and realized many benefits, which are disclosed at www.kor-education.com and fourdayschoolweek.net/.
I encourage you to check it out.
The combination of year-round school and a four-day week would allow for increased instruction time in a more consistent manner while providing a three-day weekend.
Let’s make some innovative positive changes to Roane County’s approach to education.
East Roane County