By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
Each year around this time I am reminded of those days of yore when school began after Labor Day. It still does in a neighboring state, but that is because commencing school earlier would impact its lucrative tourism industry. Since my home state lacks that kind of tourism, our children slog back to school in August. Indeed, some school districts began the first week of August.
The chief reason why school begins so early now is standardized test scores, which still remain in the dumpster [The fact that these scores do not align with the 49 other states is another discussion]. Schools have eliminated “study hall” in high schools; we have also seen a lengthening of the school day. Now governors in other nearby states want to eliminate the ubiquitous “teachers’ lounge”, as if educators were slackers hiding out, instead of utilizing the place in which to clear their heads before heading back into the classroom foray.
Not to romanticize my own elementary and high school history, but it did seem a kinder, gentler way of bidding adieu to the summer by initiating school again after Labor Day. The long Labor Day weekend gave families a chance for one last hurrah together before the start of the school year. That Labor Day weekend was akin to the caboose on a train. It served as the exclamation point at the end of a summer of my family’s time at our lake house, of cookouts, of time spent in leafy local parks playing volleyball and doing arts and crafts, and of short trips hither and yon. Like trains that no longer have a caboose, thereby creating an eerie sense of incompleteness, so too has this state shoved children back into the classroom cage long before Labor Day.
I have not noticed students getting any smarter for all the increase in the school year and longer school days. Nor have I noticed young people stampeding to become education majors in college. Quite the reverse has happened. Who would want to work for low pay, long hours, little respect from parents, and a fractured teachers’ union? Small wonder more are engaging in home schooling. In creating a sense of summer closure by starting school after Labor Day, I am thankful for those halcyon summers with my family before the scourge of the state’s testing mania created a School of the Absurd.
Ciao for now.