This Week’s Headlines
Letting summer be summer (Editorial)
(July 5, 2016) There appears to be growing sentiment among both the citizenry and state lawmakers to revert to a once traditional date on which to launch a new school year.
It was, depending on the calendar, the first weekday after Labor Day.
Waiting until after Labor Day has fallen into disrepute in recent years. Apparently it has something to do with squeezing the required 180 days of classroom education into a schedule which will get the kids — and teachers — home before June runs out of days.
So to accommodate the required often extended vacation days and days off for teacher conferences and the like, some school districts now kick in for the new year as early late August.
Recent attempts to mandate, under state legislation, an opening date for schools after Labor Day have failed.
In Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot collected more than 13,240 signatures of Marylanderss from all corners of the state on a petition to “Let Summer Be Summer.”
The citizen-led initiative kicked off in August 2014 to give families more time together, small businesses an economic boost and teachers a much needed break.
The “Let Summer Be Summer” campaign resulted from a governor’s task force which recommended in May 2014 that Maryland public schools delay opening until after Labor Day, while continuing to end the school year in early to mid-June.
Earlier, in August 2013, Franchot released an economic development impact report on a post-Labor Day start for public schools.
Completed by the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, the report found that a delayed school start in Maryland would result in an additional $74.3 million in direct economic activity, including $3.7 million in new wages and a separate $7.7 million in state and local revenue.
This year in Delaware, the state Senate narrowly approved a bill requiring that school districts wait until after Labor Day to begin the school year.
The measure cleared the Senate on an 11-to-10 vote and went on to the House. It is given on a slim chance at passage.
Supporters of the bill, which, as in Maryland, follows the majority recommendation of a task force that studied the issue, say it would provide an economic boost, allowing high school students to keep summer jobs longer and extending the summer tourism season into the Labor Day weekend.
The bill, it should be noted, maintained the requirement that schools offer 180 days of instruction.
Representatives of school boards and school leadership associations which oppose the measure, argue that school calendar decisions should be made at the district level, not mandated by the state.
In that regard, it should be noted that of Maryland’s 24 district school boards, only one — Worcester County, the home of Ocean City — opens after the Labor Day weekend.
Proving it can be done, Worcester public schools will open their doors for the new school year on Sept. 6.
All the others will open in late August. Public school students in Washington County won’t even get the last lick of summer. They will go back to school this year on Aug.17.
Franchot had argued in Maryland that carrying the summer vacation into Labor Day would generate increased tax revenues — i.e. the millions spent in Ocean City and the other resorts over the holiday, the money earned by high school kids with summer jobs at the beach and the like.
Alan Brody, Franchot’s press secretary, said the comptroller was fully in support of the proposed Delaware legislation and if it were approved, he would “hope that Maryland would follow suit.”
Franchot had another card to play; a card, which we believe, may be the most important and could play a key role if the post-Labor Day opening school day is ever approved.
Maryland’s State Fair annually opens in late August and runs through Labor Day. Literally thousands of Maryland 4-Hers and FFA members work all year long to prepare for the excitment that awaits them throughout the 10 days and particularly in the closing Labor Day events at the fair.
Here’s a sampling of 4-H/FFA events during Labor Day weekend — dairy cattle show; judging contests; horticulture and flower shows; Fashion Revue; Top Chef, the new 4-H Alumni Baker Sale and cake auction.
On Labor Day itself are the big 4-H/FFA Dairy Show and what is known as 4-H/FFA Presents.
That’s when youngsters who have practiced all year give demonstrations, visual presentations, speeches, or display a talent. County groups do a mini-fashion review or mannequin modeling.
We contend that one or two days in the classroom cannot compare with the education, which the kids get living for a few days on the fairgrounds at Timonium.
We should not deny them the full experience.