I recently spoke with middle and high school students about year round options. As a veteran teacher, I believe it’s important to have the voices of students in conversations when we rethink the way we do school, especially with calendar development.
One student leader, 8th grade student Jacori Houston of the Students for Equity group said he would like to see schools, including colleges, begin at the same time. He believes that for students like himself who are in middle school but taking high school and college prep courses can be on the same schedule as the partnering college or university. Additionally, he believes this will give students a true break from school and a real summer.
I believe school districts go wrong with discussions on year round school or balanced calendar. I believe that more school districts are moving to offering these options within their school districts. This would allow interested staff and teachers who would prefer this type of educational setting to help run the schools. When these calendars changes are mandated, it could cause for students and families of the school district to leave.
Another student, Xavier Simpson, says he loves the flexibility of charter schools. He’s being raised by his grandmother and says the hours and calendar schedule allows for her to be engaged more in his academics. He believes schools, including charters, should explore different calendar options, including year round school. “I think longer summers offered through a year round school calendar would benefit students like me because we have more time to work and help out at home too.” Xavier recently stated that he would like to see more schools offer year program educational programming, even if it’s in partnership with community organizations.
I see the pros and cons of mandating calendar decisions for all schools. I believe this would only continue the struggle for equity, diversity, and inclusion. I believe this is one of the reasons why the growth of true year round school calendars isn’t seen in more schools but instead, we see more balanced calendars. I do believe that having it as an option is extremely beneficial, especially with parents, many who are still working virtually or from home. I also believe that with the continued exiting of large numbers of teachers from public schools, schools need to embrace innovation. Since more parents are now seeing other pathways for educational options, public schools have to consider choices more closely like year round school options.
Whether optional or mandated, the main ideas is that how public schools operate is going to have to change and provide options for educational programs. One size, one method, one pathway of learning doesn’t work for all kids. I believe having the option of where your child(ren) are learning, how they are learning and when they are learning are basic civil rights of families raising school aged children.