Today’s generation wouldn’t understand. School start dates have been pushed so far back that high school teams now play their first football games before Labor Day. Sometimes two. And it’s just been accepted as school start dates have progressively eased toward July.
Alabama’s Legislature this week passed a bill that would give back a few days of summer vacation, but it’s not quite a return to yesteryear. For the 2012-13 school year, public schools in Alabama would not be able to start classes sooner than two weeks before Labor Day, and the school year would be mandated to be finished by the Friday before Memorial Day. That would be Aug. 20 and May 24.
The bill was sent to Gov. Robert Bentley who said he’d think about it.
Owners of businesses that cater to vacationers have complained for years that the shorter summer vacation schedule was hurting their businesses in two ways. First, their customers had less time for summer vacations. Secondly, students who made up much of their summer work force weren’t available to work as many weeks as they might be needed. They have been actively lobbying for a change in the schedule.
The bottom line in getting the bill through the Legislature this year was, as might be expected, the bottom line of the financial forecast. By one estimate, more than $22 million in additional tax revenue would be generated for the state. Even the state teachers’ union perked up at that bit of news, estimating that amount would be enough to take 300 teachers’ jobs off the chopping block in a tough budget year. The AEA supports the bill.
There are also provisions for schools to extend school hours if necessary to get in the same amount of instructional time, even if they can’t squeeze in the same number of days.
That’s not sitting well with some in the education establishment, who argue that longer days are not good for students and longer breaks mean more time must be spent reteaching what students forget over the summer, and that grading periods should not be split over the Christmas break. If passed, the bill would probably force shorter breaks at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
We found it a bit odd that a Republican governor had any hesitation about signing a bill passed by a House and Senate both controlled by his party, but we have to give him credit for due diligence in deciding whether to sign or veto the bill.
We think summer breaks have gotten too short, but it’s the governor’s decision.
It is said that politics is the art of deciding who gets what. We’re anxious to see what he does.