Over summer break, on average, students lose the equivalent of one month’s in-school learning. If we do the math, assuming that summer break is three months long and school is nine months means that only eight months of information is retained from school in one school year. But we also have to assume that the month-worth of lost information will be retaught in school, so that takes in-school learning down a whopping total of seven months. In a year with twelve months, only a little more than half of the time is put to use in teaching students new information.
In a country that was built on agriculture, schools were previously developed with a long summer break to accommodate annual harvesting seasons. Kids usually needed to work the family farm over the summer and early fall, and education was not nearly as important as it is now.
Times have changed. Most K-12 students don’t spend their summers harvesting wheat and corn, yet our school schedule has maintained the traditional schedule of three months of summer and nine months of school.
Long summers undeniably deteriorate students’ knowledge, and educators have suggested a new schedule for schools: the 45-15 plan, where students attend school for 45 days and then take 15 days off. Other plans include 60-20 and 90-30, which hold true to the same concept. The breaks strategically line up to encompass holidays and summer, and shortened vacations mean less information is lost over summer break.
Advocates of keeping the old system counter the new plan with several arguments. One such argument is that continuing school partially into the summer may end up being more expensive, as air conditioning bills increase fees; busing and lunch fees may be more expensive as well, as school schedules are more irregular compared to usual employee work schedules. The basis for this idea? Schools should sacrifice valuable time in schools that could prevent loss-of-knowledge and save time for more learning, in order for the government and district to save money. K-12 students make up 20% of the U.S. population today, but they are 100% of the future. It is unreasonable to believe that because the utility cost is high, students shouldn’t be given better opportunities to learn and grow. More money should be put into education now than ever before to ensure that students are provided with the resources and knowledge they need to forward the world in the future.
Long-summer supporters also claim that year-round school robs kids of free time where they can go outside and enjoy the weather, or spend days with their families. The summer months encourage youth to enjoy being young. But let’s be honest: in a world where technology brings the world to our fingertips, students simply aren’t as active as people believe them to be. Youtube and Clash of Clans is prefered over frolicking in fields or stargazing. Electronics are preferred over nature and social interactions. When students do spend time with family, three months of time is exaggerated when considering how long “quality family time” should be. And besides, if students don’t value the time they have with family every afternoon, they probably won’t during a three-month break either.
In the end, it all wraps around the importance of educating students. The most critical evidence we should look at is which schedule— traditional or year-long — benefits students the most when it comes to providing them with an exhaustive and useful education. With year-long school, short breaks give students less time to forget what they learned, and therefore, give teachers more time to teach new lessons instead of reviewing previous terms’ information.
The world is evolving; it’s about time the education system that releases the future’s work force does too.
– Deney Li
Categories: JMM Opinions