Ideas on year-round school welcome

Published 11:36 am Monday, November 22, 2010

There was a time when it was essential for school-age children to have the summer off; they were needed to work on the farm or perform other season labor. Today, that’s far less true, and the current school year calendar — with its three-month summer vacation – is more of a legacy than a necessity. So it’s good to hear that forward-thinking educators in the Austin school district are considering whether a full-year school year at one elementary school — Sumner — might help students learn better.

The idea of abandoning summer vacation in favor of several shorter breaks through the year is not new, but neither is it common in Minnesota where the vast majority of public schools follow the traditional schedule. Austin educators believe that eliminating the long summer break might help students better retain their lessons. It’s an idea that makes a lot of sense from an educational standpoint: It’s easy to lose focus and to lose skills during a three-month layoff. From a practical standpoint, the idea may also be more workable than the current schedule, although it would certainly represent a change and, like any change, would require some adjustments.

Whether the idea will ultimately produce gains in education and prove workable remains to be seen. The important thing, at this point, is that educators are willing to explore and test the idea. Almost every aspect of children’s lives is different, today, than it was in the 19th and 20th centuries. Recognizing that the way young people learn might also need to change, and then adapting to that need, is the sign of a healthy education system.

Email newsletter signup