No More Pencils, No More Books...

Well, not officially yet.

The Tweenager's last day of school is June 3. This is the first year since he's been in the district that they've not extended the school year due to snow days. Strange, really. I mean, the district calendar actually lists it as "tentative last day".


Growing up in Southwest Ohio, we had five snow days built into the calendar. Meaning if we actually got through the year without any snow days, we went to school for 185 days. And we didn't really think anything of it.

Clearly the teachers' unions and administrative interference have gotten stronger in the past 25 or 30 years.

We always had a few days at the end of the year that were pretty much wasted. Field Days, picnics, clean-up days. You get the idea.

Before I go any further with my rant (because you know there's gotta be a rant coming, right?), a couple of small disclaimers.

We are blessed that The Tweenager is at a school with a wonderful staff who cares deeply about the kids. He has benefited immensely this year from their attention and instruction.

Also, let me say that I'm definitely not against a fun day here and there. The teachers and kids work hard, and it's always nice to celebrate with a "non-work" day.

What irritates me is that although the last day of school is June 3, there will be precious little instruction going on during that entire week. The law says students need 180 instructional days each year. And while I do see value in co-curricular activities, it irks me more than a little to know that nearly an entire week of "instructional time" is simply tossed aside.

I can't even take him out of school that week in protest without being grilled as to why he's missing "school". Absences on Field Day are treated the same way as absences during the ISAT's (Illinois' standardized testing).

While our district's test scores and academic results aren't terrible, they certainly aren't tops in the state. My property taxes continue to rise (even though my property value continues to decline), so I expect that my schools should be well-funded. Unfortunately, I live in a state that owes its school districts and public universities ridiculous amounts of money. Chicago Public Schools alone are owed more than $200 million by the Great State of Illinois. Our district is nowhere near the size of CPS, and the state owes us nearly $10 million.

All of this makes me wonder if the district really thinks that the educational benefits of four days of "fun" are really equivalent to "instructional days".

Oh, wait. He's only in school for 90 minutes on the last day. Did I forget to mention that? As a working parent, THOSE days make me see red. We are fortunate that Diva Husband is able to be home so we don't have to make sitter arrangements, but I know a lot of working parents who have to change their work schedules so the District can have one last "instructional" day.

As I said earlier, I have the utmost respect for teachers. I was in the trenches for five years. Teachers really do touch the future. Unfortunately, they have to work under the watchful eye of district and state administrators who apparently find a Field Day or End-of-the-Year Kickball Tournament on par with regular instructional days.

"School's out, school's out!
No more pencils, no more books,
No more PARENTS' dirty looks!"

No comments: