I just shake my head when someone uses the "everybody-else-is-doing-it" rationale as their primary defense of a position. I mean, really, who doesn't remember their mother saying, "If snot-nosed Tommy jumped off a cliff, would you?"
But, that is the defense being used by Saginaw News Editor Jodi McFarland in her recent op-ed piece, "Michigan's Post-Labor Day School Start is out of Step with the Times."
She clicks off all the States that start in August...as if that's a reason for Michigan to fall into line. She even admits that all these States have less than stellar track records in public education. So, why should Michigan join their ranks?
Every study I've seen (and, babies, I've seen a bunch) shows that post-Labor Day School Start has never caused students to underperform. Indeed, a study in Wisconsin prior to that State adopting a September 1 School Start date, showed that the 16 districts that had always started school after Labor Day had higher test scores than those that started in August.
She seems to suggest that year-round school is the answer (to keep kids in learning mode)...but other studies have shown that student achievement wanes in a 45-days in / 15-days off format, because kids have nothing to look forward to. They don't have time to recharge their batteries and it just turns into one big drag.
To be fair, Jodi backtracks a little at the close of her dissertation (but the headline damage has already been achieved) when she says "there are a few benefits" to the Labor Day Start. But, she misses the biggest one: that many school districts in Michigan are saving millions of dollars in A/C, custodial, bus service and more by elongating their school day and eliminating a couple weeks of class time.
Millions that they can pour back into teachers.
Which is what it's all about.
If you click on the link, keep reading into the comments.
I rest my case.