He says it would cut down on wasted time in the classrooms.
Frederick, Md (KM). A Frederick County elected official would like to see some changes made to the school year. Councilman Jerry Donald, whose also a teacher, is calling on the school system to start the academic year in August, and end it by the Memorial Day weekend.
Donald says it would accommodate students who must take the standardized tests each spring. “All the standardized testing we deal with comes from the state and the national levels and it happens basically in the month of May,” he says. “So the more teaching days you have before that time, the better off kids should be. And the fewer days after that time are the fewer wasted days we have in the school system.”
A few years ago, Governor Larry, at the behest of Comptroller Peter Franchot, issued an executive order requiring all public schools to start the academic year the day after Labor Day to give families more time for summer vacation. The school year would end in mid-June. In 2019, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law returning the power of setting academic schedules to local school systems.
“I thought the Governor had a great idea about trying to make summer, summer. I understand that. But I think he shot for the wrong holiday. I think we’d be far better off getting out by Memorial Day, and starting school year whenever systems are ready to start,:” Donald says.
And having summer vacation start after Memorial Day would give families more time to enjoy summer. “I enjoy the summer time as much as anybody. But at this point, I think the school system would be far better off to have more teaching days before exams, less wasted days in June, and letting summer be June and July when everybody can have a break, and that would actually give families more opportunity to go places,” says Donald.
He noted that extra teaching days could benefit some students. “We spend a lot of time and effort trying to help kids,.trying to close the achievement gap. And one way we could do it is by having more instruction time before the exam, and less wasted time after,” Donald says.
He also says more kids look forward to the spring. “In all the years I’ve taught school, I have many, many, many times had kids ask in the springtime in May and June ‘Mr. Donald, can we go outside today?’ They’ve been couped all winter and spring, and now they’re ready to go out. I’ve never once had a kid ask me that in August,” says Donald.
Councilman Donald realizes that the decision on when to start and end school rests with the Board of Education without any input from the County Council.. But he says he wanted to make the school system aware that starting in August and ending by the Memorial Day weekend would be a better use of classroom time and money.
By Kevin McManus