Florida tourism industry wants to legislate school start date

Posted Monday, March 6, 2006 9:15 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The tourism and entertainment industries are pushing bills that would force Florida schools to open no earlier than seven days before Labor Day, in order to leave more time for students to take family trips and work as waiters, life-guards and theme-park characters.

Read more from The Miami Herald.

Monday, March 6, 2006 9:45 AM
What is a normal school year in Florida?

I heard of high school students whose last days of classes is in May or early June. Where are those places?

Where I grew up (Alberta, Canada), our school year started around Labour day (or shortly before) and ended around Wednesday or Thursday in the last week of June. My mother was a teacher and her birthday fell on June 27. Until she retired, she usually could not celebrate on her actual birthday, because it fell in marking and report card week of hell.

Monday, March 6, 2006 10:33 AM
A law like this passed in Michigan. I have mixed feelings about it.
Monday, March 6, 2006 11:20 AM
I don't have mixed feelings at all---it was a shameless money grab from the tourism sector in MI, with no educational purpose AT ALL. But now, MI schools cannot start before labor day. That means that our school district will go well into the third week of June, and possibly later.
Monday, March 6, 2006 11:36 AM
Your district could lengthen the day and get out sooner. When it first passed, I thought it would definately not help schools. Now I'm not sure if it will help or hurt.
Monday, March 6, 2006 11:59 AM
My school always started after labor day and ended around 2nd week of June( I grew up in Jackson NJ) but now they start before labor day. In farming areas the scool year is toatly wraped around the harvest so kids can help with the family farms. But at least that helping the familys direct income not paying them min. wages while some corperate big wig reaps all the benifits.
Monday, March 6, 2006 12:08 PM
When I talked to the manager at Miracle Strip, he said QUITE clearly the main reason they were closing was due to the shortened summer vacation season....

Educationally, I'm mixed...kids DO need to play and be outdoors (or given extra doses of Ritalin, your choice). The longer school year doesn't really seem to do that much good, since huge class sizes (and questionable parenting) means teachers often are babysitting instead of teaching. I know kids are working harder and harder, I'm hearing horror stories from parents about the MASSIVE amounts of homework.....yet even with teachers "teaching to the test" (in our case, FCATs), scores aren't improving. My instincts tell me that until we reduce class size, put a STOP to bad behavior, and pay teachers as though we cared about the job they do, then you could make kids LIVE in the classroom and it won't do much good.

Monday, March 6, 2006 12:24 PM

Your district could lengthen the day and get out sooner

I don't think so. Most of the literature I've read suggests that more, shorter school days are more effective pedagogically.

In farming areas the scool year is toatly wraped around the harvest so kids can help with the family farms

There aren't that many family farms left, really, and those few that are are now much more automated.

Monday, March 6, 2006 12:27 PM
Every school I've been to (10 to be exact) has started the last monday in August and ended the second Wednesday of June.

Thats awesome though that the Tourism industry is trying to get more summer for the kids. I would have killed for that when I was in Middle and High School.

Monday, March 6, 2006 12:43 PM
Getting out of school mid-June is very late. I am being affected by this for my graduating year in Michigan. If I wasn't being affected by it, I'd side with the law. Late August Early September have very nice weather to go on vacation.

*** This post was edited by gomez 3/6/2006 12:44:00 PM ***

Monday, March 6, 2006 12:50 PM
Why is there even a long summer break to begin with? Originally, it was indeed to give the farming children time to work the land, but as Noble pointed out, family farms are (relatively) few and far between. Year-round school, with shorter, but more frequent breaks, seems like a good idea to me. After, isnt one of the big complaints of teachers that students dont retain material over the summer and thus the teachers have to spend the first days of class re-teaching that which the students already (should have) learned?

But I guess that would be conter-productive to my coaster habit...:)
lata, jeremy

Monday, March 6, 2006 1:16 PM
It's strange how all school districts are so different. Here, our schools don't start until the Wednesday after Labor Day, and ends usually the 3rd week of June for elementary, the 2nd week for middle/high (with exams during the 3rd week)... but we also I think have off less time during the school year with one week Christmas break (depending on when it falls) and always 2 weeks during Easter.

I've always grown to know it that way, and find it strange how other districts could possibly have school during the summer-time when the vacation get-a-way season is at its peak and parks are open full-time going strongest.

Monday, March 6, 2006 2:14 PM
I don't understand the "but this makes school go later in June" argument.

I don't understand why the school year keeps growing at both ends, and nobody seems to be doing anything about what happens in the middle.

See, here in Ohio, the school year is 180 days, and I think there may be some legislative trickery that allows districts to count contact hours instead of school days, allowing districts with a longer day to use fewer days in the year. But to look at the '05-'06 calendar...why doesn't it look something like this--

August 29: School starts
September 5: Labor Day holiday
November 4: Last day of first quarter (44 days)
November 7: First day of second quarter
November 24-25: Thanksgiving
December 23-January 8: Christmas break
January 27: Last day of second quarter (48 days)
January 30: First day of third quarter
March 31: Last day of third quarter (45 days)
April 3: First day of fourth quarter
April 8-16: spring break
May 29: Memorial Day
May 31: Last day of fourth quarter (43 days)

August: 3 days
September: 22 days
October: 21 days
November: 20 days
December: 17 days
January: 17 days
February: 20 days
March: 23 days
April: 15 days
May: 22 days
Total: 180 days

...and 2005-2006 is a complicated year because of the way the holidays fall...that's a two week break for Christmas which should normally only be a week and a half, and Easter comes a bit late, and Memorial day comes early. That plan has the school year starting the same time it has started around here since I was in school, and ending at least a week earlier than it has ever ended since I graduated. And yet there are still 180 days in the school year. For convenience, I've scheduled each quarter to end on a Friday, but that doesn't much matter.

I think schools shouldn't operate during the summer. Certainly not in temperate climates such as the one I live in, and the same can be said for down South. Furthermore, I think long school breaks are important, especially since I believe that learning outside the classroom is at least as important as learning inside. Let's facilitate summer jobs, summer vacations, and three months in the summer for our kids to actually be kids for a while.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Monday, March 6, 2006 2:14 PM
To be clear, this isn't a longer summer---most states have a set number of school days required, and school districts don't go over that number by more than a handful, because it costs more money to do so. It's a "synchronized" summer---if each school district starts and ends on a different day, the summer travel season is shortened on both ends from the tourism industry's point of view.
Monday, March 6, 2006 2:27 PM
As I've Seen it here in Florida, it seems each year the Start of the School Year starts earlier and earlier. Although the School Year ends Earlier the Tourism Industry has NOT seen a Pickup in Business in May or June, but they've Sure seen it Drop in August! As for these Standardized Teats (FCAT) That have caused Longer School Days and Years, There has been NO IMPROVEMENT in Achievement Levels among Children! And if that Isn't Enough, August is the HOTTEST MONTH of the Year! And unless youve been on Mars the last few years, you've noticed that Energy Costs keep Climbing and Climbing! In Tulsa, Oklahoma the School District SAVED almost HALF A MILLION DOLLARS in Air Conditioning Bills after a law was passed in Oklahoma Mandating that thr start of the School Year begin No earlier than the Tuesday after Labor Day. The ONLY thing Longer Days succed in doing is Robbing the Tourist Economy as well as Taxpayers, with no results to justify it.I say we Return to a Traditional School Day AND Year. At the very least, We'll give the Tourism Industry back as sizable portion of their Income. Also, we will give Children back their Childhood!*** This post was edited by Borntocoast 3/6/2006 2:33:13 PM ***
Monday, March 6, 2006 4:14 PM
WARNING! OLD MAN TALKING! Ok, back when I was in public school we started the day after Labor Day, and we were finished by the first week in June. What I've seen happen is that the number of days off during the school year have increased dramatically. We didn't have a week off for Thanksgiving. If we were lucky we got off early the day before. Christmas,depending upon whenit fell, we got off on the 23rd and we were back to school on Jan 2nd (also depending upon when the first was). We didn't get a spring break either. The monday after Easter was it. Inservice days? I think there might have been two all year. Looking at my sons school calender, he has a lot more days off during the year than I ever had. I work in an educational institution, and we have a saying "Johnny can't read, cause he's not in school that much".

There is an organization, I believe it's called the National Association for Year Round Education. There sole purpose is to get the states to institute year round schools through out the US. To them a summer vacation is a bad thing. When PA was looking at it they sent their hatchet man to hit all the local talk shows in the state. They have an agenda, and they are experts at making statistics lie for them. Not surprising most of the people involved with this organization are "educators" who addminister year round school programs, mostly in CA.Their claims that there is huge retention loss over the summer is questionable at best. My son went to a year round elementary school, and now goes to a traditional schedule high school. From personal observations it appears to me it takes about the same amount of time to get them back up to speed whether it's a few weeks off or three months off.

Monday, March 6, 2006 4:41 PM
Rideman – Ohio does not allow for counting contact hours. The past several years there have been bills before the house to allow this to happen, but they have never passed.

A school year in Ohio must be 180 days, but two of those days can be used for conference days. Each day must meet a minimum of hours. Most schools go longer than the minimum hours. My year would only be 152 days if we went by contact hours.

Most teacher contracts are for slightly more days. In the district I work at it is 184. There is one work day at the beginning and the end of the year. One day is used after 1st semester for records and the final day is a teacher in-service day in October. Those days don’t appear on your calendar neither does Martin Luther King Day & Presidents day.

Dutchman is right there are a lot more days off. Some districts population want longer breaks for vacations around Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter or extra days for the start of hunting season, the county fair, or long weekends for skiing.

In the past the district I work at started the last week of August and ended the 2nd week of June, with the semester ending in late January. Next year we are starting earlier so we can end the semester before Christmas. I can tell you from my prior teaching experiences this is a more logical breaking point. January felt like a wasted month because you had to review what you covered before Christmas and then you had to get ready for exams.

The students may be starting the 21st of August in my district, but they are getting out May 24th next year, but we are down to more of what Dutchman remembers. We will have a bare bones Christmas & Spring Break and no Wednesday at Thanksgiving. The good thing is since I am on an extended contract I won’t have to work until the end of June but will be done in early June, which means I have more time for CP before I refuse to go in July & August.*** This post was edited by Not a Freak 3/6/2006 4:43:42 PM ***

Monday, March 6, 2006 4:45 PM
I think part of the argument for inservice days "counting" is that teachers (well, the ones with kids of their own) NEED those summer jobs to make ends meet...which tells you how highly we value education here in the States...LOL!

Didn't we just have "the Education President"? ;)

Actually, based on my "informal observation method", I'd say that lack of appreciation for the value of education from the PARENTS is as detrimental as anything else...

In FL, tourism is a HUGE part of our economy....not sure exactly where "in-state tourism" comes into the picture though...

Monday, March 6, 2006 5:17 PM
Random, and possibly unpopular (at least on CB) thoughts/opinions from somebody who works in the 5th, and soon to be 4th largest school district in the country…

put a STOP to bad behavior
Almost impossible in today’s political environment… The parents, by and large, support Johnny in all circumstances. Parents are more interested in dwelling on Administration social injustices and debating any loopholes in school rules versus supporting a wide concept of disciplined behavior and attitudes. The ACLU, and like ilk, are there to support any case that remotely weighs discipline and uniformity over individual expressions/behaviors. The kids run the asylum. The school is useless to change matters as courts continue to usurp power.

and pay teachers as though we cared about the job they do,.
I widely agree with the concept. My unpopular belief is that this should only start with new teachers, or those current teachers who have proven exceptional in tough circumstances. My reasoning is that the “School of Education” is by and large the absolute easiest college for anybody to “get into.” Chicken and egg scenerio… They need to toughen academic standards and simultaneously raise the pay scale to attract the best and brightest. Those who skirted by in college (see my friends) and obtained an education degree, as this was the easiest option available should not now reap the rewards of increasing salaries. Those currently in the profession knew what they were getting into. To complain now, and expect working taxpayers to fund unearned pay raises (see 180 days worked) is ridiculous. I’m not talking about everybody in teaching, but by and large it is the most simple degree to obtain. There are certainly those who love it and would do it for nothing. However, there are plenty who are in teaching because this was their only option in college. This should not be the case…

Why is there even a long summer break to begin with?
We all know the farmer scenario. The more important question is why is there a summer break now? Hmmm…. The answer is teacher’s unions. Try getting the unions to accept longer hours or increased workdays! Ha! Ha! Ha! This is not about the children. It is all about the teachers. Summer vacations, or at the very least…the average 180-day work schedule is safe as can be. Unions will never go for more without elaborate compensations! I understand there will be fervent pro-union disagreement with my views. I'm used to it! :-) I'm giving up trade secrets here... To anybody who thinks unions cannot cause a lot of damage to well-intentioned ideals...see airlines and Detroit for exhibit A! Education has every bit the strength in union power! I admit that I’m part of the problem. I love my vacation time! I could make more money as a therapist working nursing home duty…but then I would have to work! I support my teacher’s union 100% when they protect my weak work schedule. I don’t want 8 hours a day, and I don’t want 4 weeks vacation per year. I want 180 days worked… If they cave in and expect me/us to work more…watch out!

…I’ve got more to upset some of you…but this should do for now! :-)

P.S. I honestly believe that summer is good for kids! I've no data to back it. I just think summer vacations, fishing with the parents, baseball games, etc are a good thing that cannot be measured in school test scores! From this perspective I support the legislation. Of course...it does not hurt that this type of legislation assures the continuation of my 180 days... :-)

Monday, March 6, 2006 5:41 PM
Not A Freak--

A couple of points...
At least one local district (I forget which) was playing with the idea of going to a 4-day week with longer days in order to cut costs, but to do that they would have to get the +approval of the appropriate legislative boards or whatever. That's the whole reason I brought up the contact hours bit.

I agree, it makes a whole lot of sense to split the year with the Christmas holiday (after all, that's what we do...) but it doesn't match the somewhat pathalogical requirement for four quarters in the academic year. At my school, we do it in a somewhat more logical fashion: the fall semester this year was 17 weeks, the spring semester is 15 weeks, and we don't have to count class days...that State mandate doesn't apply to Universities. Anyway, if you're willing to be a little bit flexible with the class scheduling, my schedule offers 83 days before Christmas and 97 days after. So if you make each quarter run for 45 days, the second quarter ends after the first week back from break. Even better would be to make the quarters run 40, 43, 50, and 47 days, then there is a break right at the Christmas holiday, and it would be possible to put a break in late March, which would make more sense than waiting until the Easter holiday (our "Spring" break was last week...). The point is, it isn't necessary to start early in order to get the semester over in time for Christmas. It IS necessary to make the appropriate adjustments in the class plan to make it work.

As for the President's day and Martin Luther King day holidays...I didn't include them because they aren't necessary. Never in my academic career did I ever get the day off for Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, President's Day, St. Patrick's Day, or any other national or local holiday. I never understood why we got the day off for Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, which was NOT a Federal holiday, but not for George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays WERE Federal holidays. Once King got his holiday, I felt vindicated when I got to college and we didn't take off either of those days. If you're not going to take the one, then why take the other? And given that one happens in January, the other in February, and odds are the weather will be miserable for both, I'd rather be in school so that I can have more time off in the summer!

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


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