Now that the start of the 2008-09 school year is just two weeks away, many students, teachers and parents are already marking their calendars to figure out the first break! For students, that break will come Oct. 9 when teachers report to school for a day of Professional Development.Still, it's a Thursday, which doesn't allow for an extended break long enough for a getaway excursion. At that point, we will be six weeks into the year. Our first real break will be Thanksgiving, 13 weeks into the school year. But who's counting?

If we followed a year-round schedule, that long 13-week stretch would be broken up into shorter pieces. In mid-July I wrote about the possibilities of year-round schooling and how I believe a new schedule for schools across the country could help boost the United States to renewed educational greatness.

DISCLAIMER: QCSD is NOT considering year-round schooling. I just like to consider the possibilities and get people talking about it! I invited polite discussion and I received several responses. I find it exciting to know that members of the community do want to talk about the possibilities of education in the public schools.

Last week, I offered responses from two parties interested in the fortunes of QCSD. One of those agreed with my support of a new schedule, the other did not. Below are a few more responses.

I am withholding this woman's name so that her children do not receive any flak. She wrote, "Finally someone in Quakertown admits the truth, it's a good idea that is long ago needed. I think 180 days when other countries are hitting 240-280 supports my long thought notion that American kids aren't in school long enough.

"I spend money on summer activities, band camp, Irish dance workshop weeks, swim team and cheer camp. I have four kids, two of whom are benefiting from ME putting my hand up and asking that said children be allowed to 'sit down' in any sort of summer education you've got this year was the first year I paid-2 kids at $20 bucks each - cheap summer brain drain! I am afraid to let my 14-year-old son go with OUT a summer school spell because if he does NOT go in, the summer is TOO long and his brain is a sieve by September and I don't like watching him play catch up.

"Our education system IS built around the archaic notion that our kids are farmhands like my mother was when she grew up (and she's only 65!). Kids were working as early as 14, apprenticing and learning trades. We don't let our teens do that stuff anymore, child labor laws, etc. Unless parents FIND ways to get kids out there and under someone's wing in the summer, or in volunteer programs, the older ones are 'hanging' in skate parks and at poolswhen idle minds are the devil's workshop.

"Window air conditioners! Finally, an answer to the one thing in my mind that is a huge con to the idea. I think 210 or 220 days in school would be more beneficial.

"Change is good. I'm tired of only having the hot, hot, hot summers to take my kids to see their grandmother in Orlando. [I'd like to see] us stop the nickel and dime day off here, day off there. It's quite annoying. We can't take a week at Thanksgiving anymore, they've shaved that down. But we've got a day off out of the blue, for some odd reason."

Teresa Maute-Carr, QCSD parent, wrote, "As a dual income household, I would welcome year round schooling. I think the more people actually start thinking about this, I bet even those three weeks off could be used constructively for younger children. Vo-tech could have some type of camp for those three weeks, such as cooking, gardening, money management.

"I also wonder about the long term implications. Would it really be 12 years of education or would students finish younger? I agree with your comment about changing the school year everywhere in one sweep of the pen.

"Some dual income households have to pay for aftercare because not many employers just let you leave at 2:30 p.m. Most jobs are 9-5, 8-4 and this never coincides with bus schedules. I appreciated your column."

Ricki Stein is the community relations coordinator with QCSD. Send comments to tfp@berksmontnews.com. "From the Inside Out" is a column dedicated to the views of the Quakertown Community School District

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