I read with a little bit of horror both the news story about Georgia State Superintendent Kathy Cox requesting that local school districts push back their start dates and the ensuing "suggestions" posted online from sometimes well-meaning readers. (see http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/061708/met_462423.shtml)
First, I don't know about all the other moms out there, but I have made arrangements for child care up to the day school is scheduled to start. Push back that date, and I'm left with a certain amount of time to scramble for child care. Summer camps are scheduled to end, the Boys and Girls Club camp here in Peach County had a scary time trying to find the funds to hold their camp at all. And can you imagine the non-traditional students starting college the same week as their kids? Or before? What if you've scheduled your classes around your kids' schedules (as much as possible)? I'm just saying mid-June might not be the best time to suggest changing an August start date.
Second, there was a lot of chatter in the "comments" section about going to a four-day school week. Now I know all the sound financial arguments for that - it would save a fortune in gas and electricity and school lunches. But as a working parent, again I'm horrified. You think my boss is going to let me go to a four-day workweek simply because my kid is out of school on Mondays? Or Fridays? Not a chance. So again I foresee a large number of parents scrambling for childcare. That is, unless some enterprising teachers band together to offer child care. But it can't be at the schools, can it? Because that defeats the purpose of "saving money" by not using the building that day. And frankly, if I'm a teacher and get moved to a four-day week of classes, I'm going to spend that extra day off grading papers, filling out the required paperwork (there's a mountain of it), studying for my own continuing education classes so I can stay certified, and so on. I'm not likely to take on a child care job for my students' parents. And as far as school lunches go, that one meal is, for a lot of students, the best meal they get all day. Friday lunchers sometimes have to make that meal last until Monday. Can you imagine trying to stretch it to Tuesday?
So Superintendent Cox's request left me, and apparently a lot of readers, with much to think about. If you care to continue the discussion in the "comment" section below, be nice, don't tear down anyone else's idea, and don't make personal comments like "so and so doesn't know what they are talking about" and don't bash teachers (that's my own personal pet peeve).
--Misty Cline works in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University