Thursday, July 19, 2012
First day of school
It was said to me last week – as it has been about this time the past several years.
“It seems summer is getting shorter and shorter.”
They’re, of course, referring to the break for our school children.
Actually, it’s not getting any shorter. The typical routine has been get out of school in late May and return in early August.
Basically, the kids have gotten two months off (June and July).
This year, the first day of school for students in the Holly Springs and Marshall County school districts is August 9. Marshall Academy students go back to class on August 13. Other schools in the area will have similar starting dates.
And another conversation I had over the weekend started with, “Isn’t that earlier than normal?” The question referenced the start of high school football. Practices begin in a week and a half, on July 30. Jamborees are August 10. “Real games” begin August 17.
Odds are, it will be hot – very hot – too hot for full pads and helmets.
When I was growing up, I remember starting to school most of the time around my birthday, which is August 25, and going until mid-May.
Others have said, “We didn’t start until after Labor Day.”
Back in my day, the sports season did not overlap either. Basketball games did not begin until football was finished; baseball games did not start until basketball season was over. Today, two or three sports are going on at one time.
In current day Mississippi, changes are coming that will push the beginning of school back a bit toward those “old days” and likely change some athletic scheduling, too.
A new law, passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor, says public schools can only start on or after the third Monday in August. The law goes into effect in the 2014-15 school year.
Supporters of the bill say a delayed start will extend the summer tourism season, which will pump millions of dollars into the state’s economy. Opponents say it will create scheduling headaches - from class schedules to testing dates to athletic events. Some said shifting the school calendar mean districts would have to decide whether to push the end of the first semester from December into January, or shorten the holidays.
Sen. Bill Stone said the bill received heavy support from the coastal counties, based largely on the possible tourism boost. He voted against it – saying, “I believe it’s a decision that needs to be left up to local school boards.”
I’m sure there are still some unanswered questions out there. I’ve heard a few.
“Will starting to school later in August mean the students will be in class until early June? They will have to go to school the same number of days, right?”
“Will football games begin before students are in school? Or will the football season be shortened?”
There will, no doubt, be some changes in a couple of years – from the academic schedules to the athletic schedules.
The verdict is still out on whether the pluses to this shift in the start of school will outweigh the minuses.
More than anything else, I believe the goal of any change in education should be based on what’s best for our children.
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