I went to school for 13 years, spent six more years at Purdue University and taught high school agriculture for four years. I led a 4-H club for 15 years and served as an FFA assistant. Needless to say, I know a little bit about kids, agriculture and school.
I know enough to flat out say starting school in July is ridiculous — a strong word, but I stand by it. Yet some students not far from me started school less than a week after showing livestock at their county fair! Part of this nearly year-round school phenomenon is an unintended consequence of air conditioning. Few people thought when they supported air-conditioned buildings that their students would be whisked away in July.
It’s high time someone injected common sense back into this equation, even if it takes the Legislature to do it. Here are my top 10 reasons why school shouldn’t start until after Labor Day. OK, I’m a reasonable guy; I would settle for the last week of August.
10. School personnel aren’t always ready to start in July either. And we’re not just talking about Muncie Schools, either. My kindergarten granddaughter didn’t get delivered home until 7:30 p.m. on the first day of school! You think everything was ready?
9. Crowds in the “Back to School” aisle at Walmart and Target in mid-July are un-American! The poor store employees can barely get Fourth of July stuff out of the way for school supplies.
8. Some farmers are still baling their second cutting of hay. OK, not many kids help bale hay these days, and some farmers have bale caddies. But that’s because there are no kids to help! They’re in school!
7. The family vacation must move from August to who knows when. Many people support family values. Then why develop a school calendar that makes vacationing difficult?
6. How is a teenager supposed to hold down a summer job? Imagine the look on an employer’s face when a student tells him or her in mid-July: “Next week is my last week because school starts.” The employer’s likely reaction? “Yeah, right kid!”
5. Some 4-H exhibitors have to choose between the state fair and school. Yes, the Legislature says they won’t be considered absent. But not every kid wants to miss the first day of school.
4. So long to Holiday World and all the other fun parks! What sounds better than spending a hot August day in a water park? Sorry, you must be in school!
3. Indiana tourism suffers. What do you think happens when kids are in school instead of at Holiday World? Besides, Holiday World couldn’t staff the park — most of its workers go back to school, too.
2. State fair crowds suffer, too. The days of arriving at the state fair at 9 a.m. to a packed house on a weekday are long gone. By the final week, you could shoot a cannon and likely not hit anyone. And there’s nothing fair organizers can do.
1. Theories that kids won’t forget as much don’t hold water. We need to see more data than we’ve seen so far. Anecdotal evidence from teachers claims kids forget as much over two-week breaks as over summer.