I know that another post griping about school is going to make me look like I’m “anti-teacher.” I’m not. They do a job that I have consciously decided that I am not cut out for – spend all day, every day, schooling my son. My problem is with the system as a whole.
Josh started school on Aug. 23. Today is the end of his fourth week of school. And he has not yet had a “full” week of school. The first week, three “half” days – dismissal at 1:00 PM. Second week, two “heat days”, where they were dismissed around noon because it was too hot to go to school. Third week, regularly scheduled Early Out on Wednesday (1:00 PM) for Teacher In-Service. And now, the Fourth Week, tomorrow is a day off for a “Teacher’s Institute/Faith Formation Day.” I must point out that this day off is not extended to the Public School in our town. All of the rest coincide with their schedule. And it doesn’t stop there. Next Wednesday is another pre-scheduled early out at 1:00. These occur every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of EVERY MONTH of the school year.
Am I out of line in being more than a little frustrated here? Honestly, “Heat Days”? Let me call forward those words that all of us swore, when we became parents, that we would never utter: “When WE were kids….” We would have paid good money for the school district to consider dismissing school early because it was too hot. But when we suggested it – and believe me, we did; anything to get out of school for a couple hours – our parents, the teachers, everyone laughed in our faces. Silly kids! Being hot is good for you. Besides, we’ve opened the windows and we have a fan. Consider yourselves lucky. And this was ‘back in the day’ when you weren’t allowed to stop at the drinking fountain when you left Gym, much less have a water bottle sitting on your desk.
I feel like I’m sounding like an old curmudgeon, but seriously. We pay good money to these schools: not only do we (the general public) pay our taxes, which increase regularly, but we, personally, pay extra to send our son to a parochial school. In essence, we pay tuition twice, for a single child to attend school. And I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth when I know that the administration is watching the clock, waiting for it to strike the Magic Hour of 11:30 (or whatever the time is) so they can still get their “credit” for Federal Funding for a full day of school, even though they send the kids home early.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for a snow day here and there – weather gets nasty, snow piles up and pipes freeze. On top of that, we are a rural district, so road conditions must be considered more than most. Sometimes it does get too bitterly cold for kids to safely walk to and from school, or to stand for any length of time at a bus stop. I’m thinking here of days when the actual temp reaches into the -30s, without windchill. But “Heat Days”? These same children, for whom it is “too hot” to sit in a classroom, would gladly be running around like lunatics in full sun when it is 20 degrees warmer!
I don’t understand, either, why we must have “early outs” once every two weeks. Studies have shown, and educators are quick to point out, that a regular, predictable schedule is vital to learning. So what do they turn around and do? Interrupt that schedule every couple of weeks with “Institute/Planning Days” – either Early Outs or Days Off. Consequently, we’re in the fourth week, and STILL have not had a regulation full week of school.
At the risk of sounding unsympathetic, why are those “planning hours” more important than the student’s education? Why can’t planning take place after the children leave? Before school? During summer? I know that there are papers to grade. I know that there are lessons to prepare. I know that some teachers take on extra duties, like coaching; I know they do Continuing Education, as well. But I also know that most school days run from 8-3, that most teachers have a lunch hour and a “planning hour” when their students are not under their supervision, and their classrooms are empty.
Am I the only person who has a problem with this? When did it start? Why does it continue?