If Amendment One passes on March 3, the legislature, more specifically the state senate, will control public education. That’s because while the governor will appoint state school board members, they must be confirmed by the senate.
And if you want to see what whacky ideas members of the legislature conjure up for public schools, look no farther than all the recent talk about not having school from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
While it sounds simple enough, this idea runs smack dab up against the requirement that students have 1,080 instruction hours in a school year. This is a totally unrealistic proposal and has teachers and administrators from one end of the state to the other up in arms.
According to an experienced educator I trust whole-heartedly, squeezing the school year into this time frame would mean no professional development days for teachers can be embedded into the school year, Thanksgiving holiday would be only Friday and Saturday, Christmas holiday could not begin before December 23 and spring break would be eliminated
In addition, chronic absenteeism would sky rocket for students as parents would simply take them out of school for traditional holidays so they could travel. Since absenteeism is one of the factors by which schools are graded these days, the public perception of the job schools are doing would be hurt (which is what legislators love to shout about).
Without holidays, professional development or workdays built into the calendar, there will be an escalation of teacher burnout at the very time we are screaming about teacher shortages. And every day a teacher is out, a day of good instruction for students is lost because they have a substitute teacher.
“Our focus needs to be on providing business and industry with a well-rounded, educated and trained workforce. A shortened school year will not provide that outcome,” according to my source.
And this is the kind of thinking we need directing public education?
Only if we are trying to go backward–not forward.