Sunday, August 16, 2015

Should School Really Start in Early August? Some Glendale Parents Say No

Glendale Unified School District

The Blogger Kids returned to school on August 10, earlier than just about anyone else in the region. To much relief of Maria... but was it fair to the boys?

Honestly, they didn't protest that much, and we had just about run out of things for them to do this summer, so we saw it as pretty much of a good thing. We did the family trip, they did multiple camps and were starting to get restless.

On the flip side, it seemed like summer had barely scratched the surface, and I had been working most of it, limiting my summer fun with the kids. But given our weather, it's almost always summer in Southern California, so that didn't bother me much either.

It bothered some parents in the Glendale Unified School District, however. According to the Glendale News-Press, they're hoping to push the school start closer to the end of August rather than the beginning:

As Montrose parent Sarah Rush was driving her daughter to Rosemont Middle School on Monday, it was Rush, not her daughter Amanda, who was experiencing a sudden sadness.

The start of the school year on Aug. 10 arrived one week sooner than it did last school year, and Rush felt it had interfered with precious family time with her daughter.

“Summer was over, and it just felt wrong,” Rush said.

Over the past few months, Rush’s daughter attended summer school to refine her math skills, then she spent a week at Camp Fox on Catalina Island.

That left the mother and daughter with only two weeks of summer to spare, Rush said.

Later on Monday, Rush created an online petition dubbed “Save our GUSD Summers.”

I find it interesting that it was the parent, not the kid, driving this! Here's what the petition says:

Please sign the SAVE OUR GUSD SUMMERS petition to have our schools' starting date be extended to much later in August (and as close to Labor Day as possible) for 2016 and subsequent years. This would not affect the mandatory 180 days of instructional teaching. We have only so many years to build summer family memories with our children. By losing a month of the summer vacation, the lives of our children and families are being negatively impacted in many ways. If our children are taking summer school, their summer vacation has been shortened to only 3 weeks. Our children deserve to have time in the summer for camps, sports, recreation, and most importantly, family time. In our society, the stress of our adult workloads are increasing, and our recreational time with our children is being lessened. We are a community who is very committed to the educational lives of our children. When the academic year begins, we are all invested in their well being and educational process. Kids need a break. Families need a break. If a teacher is interested in pursuing educational opportunities to build on their own expertise, those are also affected by the shortened summer hiatus. The stated "pro" for starting our schools earlier is so that our students will have taken their finals before the Christmas break. This goal could be met by adjusting other holiday dates in the calendar year, and still starting school at a later date. There are also parents who feel that their children do fine with the extra time to study and prepare for the exams. There is room for discussion. The GUSD school starting date is one of the earliest in the entire United States. It is affecting our children's internships and summer job opportunities as well. The warm temperatures are miserable for our kids in non air conditioned classrooms and for outdoor Physical Education. I don't know if any of the School Board members have children in our schools at present. Were any parents consulted when the decision was made for August 10th to be the starting date for GUSD? I have not found a single parent who is happy about the school year beginning so early. Next year the starting date is scheduled for August 8th. I know that our School Board leaders are committed to the children of this community, and are driven by their love for education. Let's send them a message that curtailing our summers does not benefit the family and the educational lives of our children, but hurts us all.

This seems more like an emotional debate than perhaps a logistical one. The debate over how long the summer vacation should be has waged for years, and honestly, it's a struggle for kids to return after too long of a break to basically re-learn everything they forgot over the summer months. I think this shorter vacation time is also beneficial to Glendale's growing language immersion program, as kids need to be surrounded by the target language more often for it to stick. Honestly, most schools in the region started a few days, or at most, a week later...

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