It’s too hot for school

Father David Epps's picture

It’s too hot to go back to school! Up in the Midwest, school doesn’t start for another two weeks and, for the most part, it’s cooler up there than it is in Georgia.

Why in the world do students in the heat-oppressed, sweat-drenched, unbearably humid, and monumentally muggy South, find themselves standing in lines waiting for the school bus before the first seven days of August have passed?

If memory serves correctly, folks in my ancient generation usually got out of school just before Memorial Day and returned to school following Labor Day. There was a time when “Summer Vacation” lasted for a summer. We still have a month and a half to go before autumn begins, although, for vacation purposes, “summer” traditionally ends informally following the Labor Day weekend.

Up in Illinois, where I spent two days this week, the teachers are still smiling and occasionally sleeping in, the students are not even thinking about buying school supplies, and parents are planning end-of-summer getaways with their kids. But, in Georgia, when kids should still be fishing and lounging near swimming pools, the grind has already begun.

I realize that some people are happy about school days beginning so soon — parents, mostly. And I concede that for most school children, this is simply life as they experience it and that they have no sense of loss due to an abbreviated summer.

Still, summers are among the most vivid memories that people carry with them. Summers spent swimming in a pond, playing “army” or “cowboys and Indians” in the woods, long, lazy days at the lake fishing or skiing, hanging out with friends, camping out, summer romances that end with the first falling of the leaves, adventures to be remembered and cherished, and time spent doing absolutely nothing except being a kid or a teen.

Now, everything has to be jammed into a decreasing number of weeks and, for many kids, the summer is as hectic as the school year, with baseball, softball, ballet, camps, vacation Bible Schools, rushed vacations, summer reading lists, and a frantic need to pack everything in prior to the resumption of school.

I am aware that the three-month summer break was modeled on an agricultural society that no longer exists and that educators claim that children lose some of their skills during extended breaks.

I recognize that single-parent families or families where both parents work can create child care problems.

And I understand that, in our increasingly isolationist society where kids spend much of their time in anonymity in various chat rooms instead of building relationships and friendships with the neighborhood kids, many are eager to rejoin their friends at school.

Still, I wonder if the price for nearly year-round school isn’t simply too high. I wonder if teachers ever really get rested and recharged and I wonder if relationships between kids and their families aren’t being shortchanged.

Besides, it’s early August. And, in the Deep South, that’s just too hot to go to school!

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Submitted by McDonoughDawg on Fri, 08/10/2007 - 9:27am.

It's 180 days of School no matter when they start school. I don't get the big deal with the early start.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Fri, 08/10/2007 - 11:19am.

There are about 198 days between September 2 and June 2.

18 days off is enough!

Nothing sacred, except Georgia suggestion anyway about 180!

Also, students can take long weekends off (one additional day) several times a year without much of a problem.

It is an administration thing!

Submitted by madprof on Fri, 08/10/2007 - 8:56am.

Earlier this week, my daughter was invited to join a group of kids from DeKalb County at the water park in Clayton County. It was about 100 degrees outside. The adults who organized the trip were shocked to find that the park had already shut down because the public schools in Clayton were back in session.

I am so glad Father Epps has taken a common-sense position against this school-in-August madness, but I do not agree that it is parent-driven. In fact, as the Citizen online poll indicates, most Fayette parents dislike subjecting their children to it. In response to the slanted surveys the Fayette school board puts out, parents overwhelmingly pick the latest possible day for starting the school year.

Yesterday in the AJC, Mike King proferred the theory that the latest calendar fad is part of a stealth tactic by professional educators to create year-round school. Teachers, especially high-school teachers, have supported it because they find the testing and break schedule more convenient.

As Father Epps notes, this movement (like so many promoted by the education establishment) is actually hostile to families and family life. Even if there were solid evidence--which there is not--that going to school in this hot weather improved test scores a few points, that would hardly make up for the loss of family vacation and play time the new calendar imposes.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Fri, 08/10/2007 - 9:28am.

I bet I'm an even madder prof (of philosophy) over the arrogance and trendiness of these school boards.

I hope Mike King is mistaken. The very idea of year-round school strikes me as yet another encroachment upon parental authority and the autonomy of the family.

As I said in another blog a couple of weeks ago, if I had it to do over again, I would never send my kids to the public schools. I would either home school them or find an excellent private school that understood the importance of the family and was not engaged in attempts at the social engineering of our children.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Fri, 08/10/2007 - 9:18am.

This attitude by the school board and Superintendent is precisely why I never understood why we are making the Superintendent rich!
The schools do not consider parents wishes as to schedules.
Apparently they give full consideration to the teachers and administrators wishes who are paid to teach, not politic.
If they like going to school in June, July, and August so much, I suggest the administrators and teachers do summer school for those who wish it and those in need! They could charge a small fee, I think for that.

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