Here we are, half-way through August, and those of us in the central office are working hard (really!) to prepare for the opening of schools in about three weeks.
What a waste!
I’ve ranted about this before (but then it’s summer re-run season) but it’s still true. One of the biggest road blocks to reforming American education is our slavish devotion to an antiquated calendar.
Milton Chen, Executive Director of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, agrees.
Yet our schools and universities stand alone in hewing to a calendar with a long summer vacation added to holiday and spring breaks. No other sector of our society — government, business, transportation, health care, manufacturing — considers its year to be composed of 180 days or 36 weeks.
And then there is the equally outdated daily schedule at most middle and high schools.
Add to this “outer limit” the “inner limit” of the 50-minute period of most secondary schools, and we have a pigeonholed system of schooling. This time frame was born out of the Carnegie Unit, which requires 120 hours of class time for high school courses. (Five such periods each week for 31 weeks achieves the 120-hour requirement.)
The Carnegie unit is a concept from the early part of the last century. A school calendar with a long summer break goes back at least that far.
It is way past time to get rid of these educational relics from a time gone by. A report called Prisoners of Time said that more than twelve years ago. A new report due this fall will probably say the same thing.
How many repetitions are needed before the people running the educational system learn the lesson?