A recent Washington Post article by T. Rees Shapiro details some of the changes our new superintendent is planning to implement, in regards to our school calendar.
Since the 1970s, our elementary schools have dismissed earlier on Mondays. Our kids go home two and a half hours early on Mondays and teachers continue to work, often having many meetings. This was done, if I understand correctly, in order to insure that elementary teachers received the same amount of planning time as middle and high school teachers.
Our superintendent would like to change this schedule. I’m not against that. It’s a pain, as a parent, to have to figure out what to do with my daughters on Monday afternoons. I’m sure I’m not alone in that challenge. (However, most working parents likely already have their kids in child care after school and that covers Monday afternoons as well. Stay at home parents are also set. I would guess it’s a small percentage who only need help on Monday afternoons.)
Anyway, the article talks about the reasons and options. I’m not highly invested in this, aside from hoping that if the change happens it is done well. I was struck by the comments. (And I only read the first few!)
The focus is on getting as many school days in before our state testing as possible. Because, according to the comments, that’s when the learning stops. I hear this all the time. Our societal view on this is clear. We learn all year, then we take tests, then we are done.
I’ve griped before about the messages we send kids about testing and learning. We do it in schools, we do it in the media, we do it in homes. It’s everywhere. And I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
Children love to learn. We, as a society, kill that love as kids get older. When we tell them that they are learning in order to pass a test, we are killing their love of learning. We need to abolish a significant number of tests (if not all of them) and we need to stop making them the most important thing kids do in school. And we need to do it now.