Sunday, January 26, 2014

Scheduling What Matters

It's January 26 and snow storms have already interrupted five days of school in the district where my son goes to school (three days off, one late start, one early dismissal). In response to those interruptions, my son's district sent a series of changes to the schedule for the remainder of the school year, justifying those changes by saying . . .

Making changes like they are doing is disruptive to family's schedules. Families often make plans for the days off and early dismissals planned for later in the year. . . .

(Here it comes)


The snow storms that have so far characterized the winter of 2013-14 have been disruptive too.

More importantly, I'm glad to see a district say to its parents (and taxpayers) that what the district does with children during the school days matters and that it matters enough to modify the remaining schedule to maximize instructional time with the students. They are trying to avoid tacking on days to the end of the year, which strikes me as wise given how very little meaningful learning happens after Memorial Day.

I could comment on how a neighboring, large suburban school district refuses to make changes to its schedule in light of the weather interruptions, how it was so wedded to a staff development day tomorrow that it refused to let it be used as a make-up instructional day (as it was designated on the calendar), but I'll pass up feeding on that low-hanging fruit.

No, I can't pass it up.

School districts are led by superintendents who serve at the pleasure of an elected board. Because of this structure, districts reflect the values and priorities of the communities they serve. A message like that from my son's district demonstrates a community that values students' time with teachers. Districts that are too afraid to modify schedules due to a fear they'll disrupt three-day weekends and orthodontist appointments reflect a mindset oriented around education as an entitlement, as something that fits in around other things in life.

No comments: