If you ask most kids whether they would like to go to school all year long, they will answer with a resounding, “No!”
Yet, in some countries, such as Finland, that is what they do. Many argue that the United States will not be able to compete in the global marketplace if we do not add more hours to the school day or year. They contend that we are falling behind, especially in math and science.
When American 15-year-olds rank 25th in math in a study of 34 countries, that does not bode well. They also ranked 14th in reading and 17th in science.
Is year-round school really the solution? Teachers will tell you how much students forget over the summer break.
“The research is very clear about that,” said Charles Ballinger, executive director emeritus of the National Association for Year-Round School in San Diego. “The only ones who don’t lose are the upper 10 to 15 percent of the student body. Those tend to be gifted, college-bound, they’re natural learners who will learn wherever they are.”
There are a few problems with year-round school though. For one, how will be pay for this when the American school system is already underfunded? Congress has approved public school funding, but we are still waiting.
What of summer vacation? This is traditionally a time when families travel together or kids get to play outside. With less family time, could it erode the already crumbling family social bonds?
In schools, the focus these days seems to be on high-stakes testing and drilling on math, reading and writing. Is there any time left for play?
Many older kids hold jobs over the summer or after school to help support their family. How will they make ends meet if they cannot work anymore?
Another factor is that more or longer school could actually lead to chronic fatigue and burnout for teachers and students. It may put a higher burden on the already overscheduled teachers and students.
So, is year-round school the solution? There are still more questions than answers.