The Christian Science Monitor has a great article about how summer vacation for students (and teachers) is being truncated by many states and local systems. Naturally, one of the primary reasons for shortening the break is the desire to pack in more preparation time for the increasingly important spring standardized testing ritual. But a better reason is that the three month school summer vacation is an anachronism of our culture which needs to be eliminated altogether.
Actually, the long summer break is just one part of the whole structure of schools in this country that needs to change. But the process of closing down and then starting up schools is an especially large waste of time, energy and money. More than that, however, I think it also sends a message to society that learning must exist only in one year blocks instead of being a continuing process, one that moves at a different pace for each person. In addition, revising the school calendar would be an important first step in any genuine reform of public education (as opposed to the artificial stuff we’ve been getting).
Of course, I’m writing this from Virginia where state law (the Kings Dominion law) says we can’t start school before Labor Day. Better to keep that cheap labor working at the resorts and amusement parks rather than working on their futures.