Recently, Governor Christie announced that he would like to extend the school day and the school year for New Jersey’s students and educators. There has been a lot of backlash to this announcement despite the fact that Christie has not outlined the details of his proposal to the citizens of New Jersey. Christie claims that in order for the students in NJ schools to participate in a competitive world market, NJ should take “broader steps” when it comes to improving education. He has not yet explained what those steps will looks like; he has only offered that students and educators will be putting in more time when it comes to education. Christie also added that our current school calendars are both educationally and culturally antiquated.
It is true that our school calendars are antiquated, and much of the reason we don’t change them is because people are just too “used” to them. They work well enough so why change them? Families plan their vacations around school schedules, holidays are always accounted for in school schedules, and then there is the loved-by-all summer break that nearly every school schedule in the nation observes. But is that a good enough reason not to change it?
Say the Christie Administration does change up the public school schedule in New Jersey? What will look like? Here’s an idea…
Students will attend school for approximately two and a half consecutive months and then have a two week break. The year might look like this:
August: Students are off the first two weeks of the month, and start their school year the second two weeks of the month.
September: Students are in school the entire month, but are off for Labor Day.
October: Students are in school the entire month, but are off for Columbus Day. At the end of October they take their Marking Period/Quarter 1 Exams.
November: Students have off the first two weeks of November, then go back to school and have off on Thanksgiving Day. They return to a normal school schedule the following Friday. (Much like a corporate schedule.)
December: Students are in school the entire month, but are off for Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. They return back to a normal schedule the following business day. (Again, much like a corporate schedule.) Then students are off for New Year’s Eve.
January: Students are in school the entire month, but are off for New Year’s Day, and MLK’s Birthday. At the end of January they take their Marking Period 2/Quarter 2 Exmas.
February: Students are off the first two weeks of February, in school for the last two weeks, but are off for President’s Day.
March: Students are in school the entire month, but are off the day after Easter.
April: Students are in school the entire month, but are off the day after Easter. At the end of April students take their Marking Period 3/Quarter 3 Exams.
May: Students are off for the first two weeks, and in school for the last two weeks, but are off for Memorial Day.
June: Students are in school the entire month.
July: Students are in school the entire month, but off for July 4th. Students take their Marking Period 4/Quarter 4/Final Exams.
August: Students are off for the first two weeks and the last two weeks they start their next year of school. Students would be starting their next year in the next grade.
Now, this is just a hypothetical. There are many ways to make year-round school schedules. It may not be perfect, but does offer some insight into how a year-round school schedule might run. Teachers and other current 10-month employees would expect a pay raise, and rightly so, because they would be working more days over the course of the year, but are there many legitimate reasons why such a schedule wouldn’t work? Besides the fact that it infringes on your family vacation?
As for an extended school day…well that might be a bit tougher. Elementary schools could have longer days, but having young students in classrooms for 8-9 hours a day can be difficult for the students and their teachers. Middle schools and high schools could extend their days, but then time for extracurricular activities and sports would not be available. These schools could start earlier, but they start early already. Having 12 and 13 year olds start school at 6am might not be the best option. This idea may take a bit more thought.
But for now, here we are, in our traditional school schedule enjoying our winter recesses, our spring breaks, and of course, our summer sabbaticals. Let’s soak it in now because change is likely around the corner for many of us. But, remember, change isn’t always bad. Sometimes, even changing deep traditions, can be rejuvenating, exciting, and refreshing.