The summer is just in full swing. Corn is just starting to tassel. Many county fairs are still underway or yet to go. The Indiana State Fair is about three weeks away. Yet the "fall" session of school for many rural kids, including farm kids, is closer than the state fair! Some schools actually start at the very end of July, or during the first few days of August.
How did we get here? What sense does this make, or does logic not count anymore? We're 180 degrees and about as many years removed from when school terms in rural areas were designed so that farm kids could be home to help during busy seasons.
Once in another lifetime, or so it seems, I was on the local school board. It actually was only a dozen years ago or so. State law mandated that once per year, a report be given at a public school board meeting about the feasibility of year-round school. In our district usually the assistant superintendent gave a 15-minute report. Most people in the audience, at least, considered it a time to go to the restroom or take a nap. It was a formality. No one seriously would consider year-round school.
Or so we thought! Now here it is, and changes and actions have consequences. Whether a 4-H member can show at state fair or not comes down to whether the school principal recognized the value of 4-H. Whether an FFA member can go work at the FFA Pavilion at the state fair during the week comes down to whether the school principal recognizes the value of FFA.
The trend is in its third or fourth year now, depending on who you ask. Are kids any smarter? Not that I can tell. Do kids remember more when they start school in mid-summer – by the calendar that's accurate – than if they wait until fall?
Many teachers tell me they don't, so why are we doing it? Why has society accepted it? It was only a handful of years ago a legislator proposed starting school after Labor Day, as in the old days, to help tourism in Indiana. Instead, we shift 180 degrees.
It makes you wonder who is in charge of education, doesn't it? Is anybody in charge? How many school board members actually know why school now starts in mid-summer? If you're a school board member or even if you're not, and you know the answer, let me know. I would welcome a healthy debate!