I heard from a number of readers. My thanks to all of you. I enjoyed the e-mail from a friend, Terry Harpole, of Maben and the kind remarks he had for the column. He passed along a beautiful “thought for the day” which I intend to use in this column as soon as possible.
This week many of the area schools will open for the fall 2007 school year. I have seen a number of surveys concerning whether school is beginning too early in August. Most of these surveys concluded that school is beginning too early. Having developed school calendars for several years, please consider the following things as reasons why school starts so early. First, all students must attend 180 days of school per session. Secondly, there must be built in days for staff development for teachers and administrators.
These staff-developments may not be held after school or on Saturdays as I have heard suggested. Most districts contract with teachers for 185 days. Staff development may not be held on non-contacted time. There are certain holidays that parents and students consider a must where being out of school is concerned.
All polls that I have seen show an expectation of being off for Thanksgiving at least three days and perhaps a full week. Being out for Christmas for two full weeks is a must. A week for spring break is a must and so are Good Friday and the Monday following Easter. Everyone that I know wants the first semester to end at the Christmas break. The rationale is that students will do better on exams and I must agree with this. If you take a calendar and plug these things in then you will understand why school starts so early.
Most of who are older did not start to school this early. We attended school fewer days, had less days at Thanksgiving and as far as I know did not have teacher in-service during the school year. Please also consider the fact that schools were not air conditioned. I can well remember starting school when it was so hot teachers could not teach neither could students learn. I often wonder how students would react if they had to come home from school and pick cotton in the afternoon? Times have changed and it is time for school to begin.
I wish for all a good and successful school year. I also pray for a safe school year. I do not remember a school shooting when I was in school or when I taught and served as the Principal of schools. Today they are becoming rather frequent. I know that parents and grandparents must worry when their children leave home in the morning and hope and pray they will be safe until they get home in the afternoon. It is sad indeed that we have to be concerned about these things but we must be concerned. Keep in close contact with school officials to make sure everything that can be done for school safety is being done. Please pray for the safety of the children. Join me as we pray, “God of love, hold our children in your arms today and protect them from harm. Bring them back home safely each day of this school year.
(Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is Pastor of the Shady Grove UM Church in Calhoun County and a member of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org)