Tuesday, January 19, 2010

School Rant

I wasn't the only one who was cranky yesterday. I talked to at least a few other moms who confessed that they had lost their patience. My theory is that after having more than three weeks of school holidays in the past eight, we are weary. Weary of juggling our usual work responsibilities and our usual home responsibilities along with holiday demands and the added complication of multiple children in the house all day.

Whether you work at home or out of the home, days off are a mom's conundrum. While I do appreciate the break from the morning rush, lunch-packing, and pick-up schedule; at the same time, I am flummoxed by the need to fit five days of work into four. To top it off, today Denver Public Schools have early dismissal. So that means I still get to wake up to a 5:45 alarm, drive my sleepy teen 20 minutes to school at 7, and then turn around at 10:45 and go back to pick her up. That is crazy.

You know what is even crazier, it's only four weeks until President's Day. Except at my son's school the Presidents get a whole week. And so does he.

In our family (and yes, I know that it is my own darn fault for having five kids), there is someone on spring break from February 27th-April 9th. I'm serious.

So, as long as I am ranting about school vacations, I might as well gripe about the hours too. Why are they so ungodly? With all of the attention given to test scores and student achievement, how can it make sense to have teens begin class at 7:29 AM? There may, somewhere in the world, be a teen or two who gets to bed before 10:00...but I doubt there are many. It has been clearly established that we are a sleep-deprived society, that teenagers need even more sleep than adults, and that lack of sleep leads to lower performance, slower response times, and irritability. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Getting out of school by 2:45 is a fifteen year-old' dream come true. How many hours that leaves to text and video chat! But just think, if she were in school, she could just talk to her friends in person! Sure, in some parts of the country, I guess there may be a handful of kids who need to be out of school and in the fields to gather the crops before dark. But for the rest of them, couldn't school hours more closely approximate work hours?

If the school day covered 8:30-4:30...imagine how much easier it would be on just about everyone. During daylight savings time, there would still be light for outside sports, and once the clocks change for fall, sports should be inside anyway. Transportation always crops up as a driving force behind the staggered school times. Maybe by scheduling a later start, more parents would be able to drive kids to school on their way to work...or maybe increasing the transportation budget, buying more buses, and hiring more drivers to accommodate a later start time across the board-would in fact result in higher test scores, better prepared and healthier students.

Seems like the pros of a longer and later starting school day have the potential to greatly outweigh some of the cons. Why not try this simple solution, before pouring more money into school overhauls?

And how ‘bout doing away with half-days while we're at it?

1 comment:

  1. Gretchen,

    I totally agree with you! My kids are at a DPS school, too. Last week, not only did they have Monday off and a 1/2 day Tuesday, my daughter had a dentist appointment that lasted about four hours on Wednesday and a field trip all day Friday. Not many parents wanted to go after having the kids home the first two days of the week!

    I also agree about the timing. Little kids are up earlier. My kids don't start school until 8:45 a.m. Why not switch the big kids schedule with the little kids? Makes alot more sense. (I know they have to stagger the starts, due to a lack of busses and bus drivers, but that change would work.)

    I also wanted to write, because I am working with Patrice Gendelman, author of the Hannah Rose Knows series. I was given your name as someone who might be interested in helping us get the word out about this amazing series of self-help eBooks for kids. I can't find your e-mail address on here to send you more information. When you have a chance, will you e-mail me at jen.chavez@mac.com?

    Thanks, and I love your blog!