A change of heart for Alice

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A change of heart for AliceNo more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.

Out for summer, out ‘til fall, We might not come back at all – Alice Cooper

For a kid, there is nothing better than summer break. Unfortunately for all the giddy children, summertime needs to end. Right now, America’s education system is on the ropes, and a way Americans can help fix it is to implement year-round education. Here’s why year-round school is a good idea.

10) Easier to schedule vacations
The three-month summer vacation block may sound great for planning vacations, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. With one large vacation block, parents have to compete in the workplace to get the appropriate time off, and travel is more expensive because everyone else is traveling. Year-round schooling offers more breaks and more opportunities for everyone to take a well-deserved vacation.

9) Solves overcrowding
Some schools with year-round schooling utilize the “multi-track” system. Essentially, the school is divided into four or five different “tracks.” Vacations are staggered between the tracks so that while three out of four tracks are currently in school, the other track is on vacation. When one track returns, another track goes on vacation. By staggering vacations, overcrowded schools can alleviate some of the stress of having too many students.

8) Benefits low-income families
Studies have shown that children from low-income families benefit the most from year-round schooling. Part of this is due to shorter breaks helping the children retain information better, and part of it is that it helps keep children out of trouble. While wealthier parents can afford summer camps and babysitters, many low-income parents have to leave their children home alone unattended while they go to work. Year-round schooling keeps children in the books and off the streets.

7) More frequent breaks
Schools that follow the summer vacation model usually have two breaks, a summer vacation, and a handful of holidays. Although there would be fewer days off cumulatively, the frequency of school breaks would be much higher. While year-round schooling systems vary, typically, schools take a two-week break quarter-semester. Frequent breaks are good for students and teachers as they help keep both from burning out early in the year.
Having more frequent breaks also has a dramatic effect on student dropout rates. In 2018, the national dropout rate was about 5%, while the dropout rate for students enrolled in year-round schooling was only 2%.

6) Teachers earn more money
During the summer, many teachers have to take on second jobs to supplement their loss of income. This forces many to take lower-paying jobs because there are very few education jobs during the summer.

This leads to embarrassing and degrading moments for teachers when they inevitably have to wait on one of their students or parents. If schools were open year-round, not only would teachers not have to work a second job, but they would also see an increase in their yearly income.

5) A different America in a different century
A hundred years ago, most Americans still worked some form of agricultural job. Aside from high infant mortality rates, most people had many children because they required help on their farms. Children would wake up before the sun, help with the crops, and go to school. Summer breaks were not designed for family fun and vacations; they were designed to allow children to help their parents with crops during a critical time in the agricultural season.

2) Students advance more quickly
A by-product of summer break is the division of classes based on age. If schooling were year-round, there would be less distinction between year X and year Y. Instead of waiting for the next school year to start, more advanced children could go to the next level. Also, the constant learning environment diminishes the emphasis on when the student started school and instead emphasizes skill and aptitude.

1) Cuts down on brain drain
Summers are not all they’re cracked up to be. While kids love summers, their brains do not. By going three months without using critical thinking, children are losing a good bit of what they have learned each year. At the end of the long break, teachers must take extra time to re-teach their students what they already knew the previous year. Three months might not sound very long, but it can seem like a lifetime for a child. It’s all about scale.

Think of it like this: Three months in the life of a ten-year-old makes up 2.5 percent of their life. For a thirty-year-old adult, 2.5 percent of their life is nine months. Could you take off from work for nine months, never use your work skills, and expect to work as well as you did beforehand?

Could Alice be on to something?

This column is by Ritchie Lucas, Founder/CEO of the non-profit The Student Success Project. He can be reached by email at ritchie@studentsuccessproject.org and on Facebook as The Student Success Project.




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