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School In Summer is Air Conditioning's Fault!

School In Summer is Air Conditioning's Fault!
Air conditioning lets schools start in July!

Tell me it isn't so. Tell me a high school isn't starting fall classes on July 29. You have to be kidding! That's un-American!

Whiteland Community High School is and likely several others, maybe even some starting earlier. As recently as 10 years ago, the idea of year-round school in most circles was a joke. It had to be discussed at a school board meeting at least once a year according to state law. More than once I saw it discussed for just mere minutes, almost as a joke.

Whatever happened to working and relaxing, and even playing, for three full months before going back to school?

The joke is on kids and parents now. And the real culprit? Air conditioning! Without air conditioning, kids suffered in closed buildings many times in August, even once in a while in early September. Schools that started in mid-August a few years ago cancelled some days if the temperature passed a certain point and the building wasn't air-conditioned.

Now, with the vast majority of school buildings air-conditioned, there's no stopping the misguided few who believe year-round school is a good idea.

They certainly didn't ask me. Whatever happened to working and relaxing, and even playing, for three full months before going back to school? Whatever happened to enjoying the Indiana State Fair on weekdays, when most of the livestock shows happen?

Not that many years ago – fewer than 10 – a state legislator actually proposed a law which would prohibit schools from starting before Labor Day weekend. It was meant to help the tourist industry. Wisconsin has such a law because tourism is a big deal there.

Instead, the 2014 legislature wrestled with whether to excuse kids form school so they could go to the state fair to exhibit their own animals.

One argument is that Johnny and Sally forget too much if they don't go to school for a three-month period. Based on what teachers tell me (who are in systems that have two-week breaks in fall and spring) kids forget just about as much over those two breaks as they do over summer. Getting them back in the groove is like starting over.

The saddest thing is what this new trend says about the influence of agriculture in modern society. In this case, there is no impact. School schedules used to be built somewhat around when kids needed to be home to help on the farm. Talk about a slap in the face! A farm kid won't even get to help make the third cutting of alfalfa hay unless he skips school in some rural school districts.

Obviously, no one is thinking about agriculture when they choose these schedules.

Joseph Oppenheim wasn't a farmer but he improved on the manure spreader, and in 1899 developed the first 'wide-spread' spreader. It led to New Idea Company.

Guess what? He wasn't a farmer. He was a schoolteacher who just wanted his students to be able to come to school more days. In those days, the farm ruled rural areas, and if a kid was needed by dad to fork manure in the spring, he stayed home and forked manure.

Maybe Oppenheim would think year-round school is a good idea. He's obviously not around to ask. How about a poll of teachers, students and parents? Put year-round school on the ballot in a referendum. Surely in some rural districts, at least, it would go down in defeat.

In the meantime, I'm just glad I'm out of school. Way out. I'll see you at the Indiana State Fair in a few weeks – any day you want, any time of day – just let me know when!

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