Ohio bill limits school year to fall between holiday weekends, to boost tourism

Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:13 PM | Contributed by Jeff

One lawmaker wants to change Ohio's school year so the state's amusement parks, resorts and tourist attractions can flourish from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Read more from The Zanesville Times Recorder.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011 2:29 PM

Wow, we start with a simple issue of how the school year should be scheduled (as I pointed out earlier, the issue isn't at all about the real length of the school year!) and we end up with a not quite eschatological discussion of educational theory and pedagogy...

Getting back to my original comment, personally, I think it would be better to limit the school year to "begin no earlier than the last week in August, end no later than the first week in June" instead of "Labor Day to Memorial Day". First because both of those holidays tend to move around a bit, and second because those "blow-off days" are quite often useful...they get used for handling all the non-academic administrivia that often takes a few days at the start of any school term, and I see no reason a recognition of that shouldn't be built in to the calendar.

Moving along to the more esoteric discussion going on here...
First, it is worth noting that contrary to popular belief, our "summers off" school schedule is not rooted in agriculture; as a matter of fact it developed along with the industrialization of the American society. Second, my personal belief is that there are important things that children need to do and need to learn which are not part of the school curriculum, and those experiences deserve sizeable blocks of time. Whether it is a summer job, a family vacation, independent informal research, or any of a number of activities one can engage in just by "being a kid in the summer". those activities have value, and they serve to help us all learn how to balance our lives.

Put another way, most of the stuff I am particularly good at is stuff that I didn't learn in school. Certainly, the skills I learned in school made it possible for me to become good at these other things, but time spent on my own doing the things I wanted to do instead of the things that were spelled out in the curriculum was the point where I was able to differentiate myself. I learned how to do research in school. I became an amusement industry scholar during summer vacation. I went to school and learned how to write a BASIC program. Then I spent the summer figuring out how to make my computer do useful things. In school, I learned about the world; in the summer I learned how to live in it.

Both structured schooling and unstructured 'living' are important. And I don't think that anyone is really arguing otherwise. But someone else summed up the argument quite nicely: Schools can operate at any time. So let's let the students out during that time of the year when the weather doesn't typically suck.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


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Sunday, May 1, 2011 2:29 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

The study followed 2,300 students in 24 four-year colleges.

Come on, Gonch. Surely you can reason that that sample population isn't even close to being relevant for the masses, right? If it were, you'd be arguing against your own premise that college attendance has become so over-saturated that it's watering down its significance.

Governments, communities, students, and their families have been demanding accountability for student outcomes in higher education in ways they never have before. The tides have been turning in that regard over the past few years. I have eleven years of experience in higher education and most recently I've worked directly in accountability and assessment areas for student outcomes.

I agree the system is a bit broken and needs to be addressed. I don't have the energy, though, for another discussion that suggests higher education has somehow become irrelevant. It hasn't. It's unfortunate anyone thinks so.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Sunday, May 1, 2011 4:42 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:
Dude, one-third of people who go to college never finish. Slip through? I'd like to see you do it.

I have no doubt I could. Blindfolded, with my hands tied behind my back...backwards...in the snow...on a unicycle. :)

I don't know many people who went to college because it was what you were supposed to do, but I do know a lot of people who went to college because they weren't sure what to do next.

My experience is almost the exact opposite. Which I suspect is at the core of our opposing views.

Plus, I know too many people my age now who are going back and getting degrees....and trust me, they're essentially buying a job opportunity. Without the paper, they don't have opportunities. Spend some time and some money and that opportunity opens up. But even this makes sense to me on a certain level because it's usually a field-related degree.

Carrie M. said:
Come on, Gonch. Surely you can reason that that sample population isn't even close to being relevant for the masses, right?

Why does no study ever seem comprehensive enough for the people around here?

I agree the system is a bit broken and needs to be addressed. I don't have the energy, though, for another discussion that suggests higher education has somehow become irrelevant. It hasn't. It's unfortunate anyone thinks so.

More correctly, it's unfortunate that anyone has reason to think so. And it isn't irrelevant if used correctly, but it can be and is in danger of becoming as irrelevant as a high school diploma. They used to tell us to stay in school - graduate high school. Now were told we need a college degree just to have a chance to compete.

Which, in a weird way, goes back to the raising of the bar thing - if the bar keeps getting raised, what was once better is now the baseline.

Too much importance is given to a college education in general (in the sense that an unrelated degree can get you in the door, but mad skills without the degree mean little) and too little to learning directly relatable, real-world job specific skills. I'm totally with RGB on that one.

But yeah, nothing's probably going to change my mind. I know you guys feel strongly too. I just like to put the other side other there:

You don't have to go to college, kids, and if you do, try to make it useful beyond 'life experience' if you can, because you can get life experience by just living life. :)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Sunday, May 1, 2011 4:59 PM
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Sunday, May 1, 2011 5:04 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Lord Gonchar said:Why does no study ever seem comprehensive enough for the people around here?


I'll take that softball... It's because I learned (guess where) to question source information so as not to fall into the trap of believing everything I read. :)

Higher education wasn't wasted on me. ;)

Last edited by Carrie M., Sunday, May 1, 2011 5:04 PM

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Sunday, May 1, 2011 5:20 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

You're a smelly girl.

And you probably have cooties.


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Sunday, May 1, 2011 5:55 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

They used to tell us to stay in school - graduate high school. Now were told we need a college degree just to have a chance to compete.

Which, in a weird way, goes back to the raising of the bar thing - if the bar keeps getting raised, what was once better is now the baseline.

That bar has already been raised again. The general consensus among the other engineering students that I talk to is that you need some type of graduate degree. Simply having a bachelor's degree won't cut it anymore. Engineers can at least get into the door with a bachelor's though. I have some friends going into medicine who have nothing but years of schooling still to go.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011 9:50 PM

ideame said:


Lord Gonchar said:

They used to tell us to stay in school - graduate high school. Now were told we need a college degree just to have a chance to compete.

Which, in a weird way, goes back to the raising of the bar thing - if the bar keeps getting raised, what was once better is now the baseline.

That bar has already been raised again. The general consensus among the other engineering students that I talk to is that you need some type of graduate degree. Simply having a bachelor's degree won't cut it anymore. Engineers can at least get into the door with a bachelor's though. I have some friends going into medicine who have nothing but years of schooling still to go.

It is true that the bar keeps being raised, and raised significantly. Why? It's being raised elsewhere. If you go back 50 years, the US had little competition from an educational standpoint. Today. It's a different world. The amount of knowledge is said to be doubling at least every 18 months, and more of this knowledge is being used each day. Couple that with significant expenditures in education in other countries, and, well, we are in the shape you are in.

My grandfather. He survived his entire life on a 6th grade education. But by the end, he started to have trouble finding work. Essentially, the skills he had were outsourced. My parents had more education. One had a bachelors degree and one had a technical diploma. All three essentially told me my entire life that I needed to go to college.

The engineering field is heading towards the requirement of a Master's degree to take the professional engineering licensing exam. Why? The amount of material one needs to know is increasing. Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and many of those fields have already made the shift (Pharmacy requiring a 6 or 7 year program of study.) If you went back 100 years, a Pharmacy degree was a bachelors degree that could be had in 3 years. We are just part of the latest growth in the knowledge required to be successful.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011 11:47 PM
Jeff's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
Too much importance is given to a college education in general (in the sense that an unrelated degree can get you in the door, but mad skills without the degree mean little) and too little to learning directly relatable, real-world job specific skills.

You are aware, of course, that job markets have shifted significantly away from manufacturing and trade to service and technology, right? There are a range of skills you acquire in college that serve a bigger context of work. As much as I had no desire to take all of that liberal arts "crap" (psych, business, science, even religion), the process of study itself made me a better contributor in every job since.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, May 2, 2011 12:11 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Sure. I get the idea that there are indirect skills that are generally useful. But wouldn't those be part of a well rounded pursuit of a specific degree?

It feels like your argument is that the field of study is irrelevant because the skills you recieve in the course of that study are useful in general - regardless of where you end up. And that's fine, I suppose. But it still seems to make more sense to learn those skills in general along with specific skills. Even is service and tachnology there are specific skills that are useful to specific jobs.

I think the best mix is somewhere inbetween with a leaning toward skill specific learning. Purely vocational schooling probably isn't the most efficient route, I'll give you that. But this open ended thing feels less that efficient too - too general. Sounds a lot like an extention of the general cirriculum we're all subjected to for 13 years as a standard.

I'll be kind of disappointed if my kids leave college with little more that '16th grade' experience. I hope that they'll approach it with a little more focus and gain study-specific skills that they'll use to be better in their chosen fields and related careers.


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Monday, May 2, 2011 12:19 AM
Jeff's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
Sure. I get the idea that there are indirect skills that are generally useful. But wouldn't those be part of a well rounded pursuit of a specific degree?

They are. It's not like you don't still have to declare a major. Even then, I think you're getting too stuck on this idea around thinking of something clever to do the rest of your life, learning how, then doing it. That was already the deal sold to people our age when we were kids, just as our parents generation was learning that was crap, as their jobs disappeared. The preparation college offers isn't about one thing, it's also about learning how to adapt.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, May 2, 2011 12:46 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:
The preparation college offers isn't about one thing, it's also about learning how to adapt.

So it's an extention of the same 12 years we all get. 13th-16th grade.

Why aren't we teaching these things as part of the general schooling we all get...or making 16 years of schooling mandatory if these general skills are that useful.

I mean, that's what complusory education is. A skill set that we use to get through life in a myriad of situations. You're making college sound like a simple extention of this idea. You get general life skills, you just get more of them.

Admittedly, I can't find a lot to hate about that. It just seems like this should be taught differently. Basic skills or general skills - even more advanced versions of general skills - should be part of the compulsory skill set. It feels marginally better than a simple high school diploma would be. Higher learning always seemed like something more, something a bit more special. Something purposeful and specifically useful as opposed to generally useful.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, May 2, 2011 12:46 AM
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Monday, May 2, 2011 1:11 AM
Jeff's avatar

So what if it was an extension? It still gets you four more years of learning.

There are a whole mess of people in my family in my parents' generation that, during the 90's or 00's, lost their jobs after decades of work, and they didn't go to college. They have no idea what to do. One uncle did go to school, and he has changed careers several times. I've done it once myself. I've even run my own business, recreationally I suppose, for more than ten years. I can credit so many of those skills to what I learned in school. I don't think that I'm particularly unique.

I know you see things differently, but you're exceptional for a non-voting, non-degreed guy. ;)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, May 2, 2011 1:26 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:
There are a whole mess of people in my family in my parents' generation that, during the 90's or 00's, lost their jobs after decades of work, and they didn't go to college. They have no idea what to do. One uncle did go to school, and he has changed careers several times.

And that's an interesting story, because at that point, I would think that this 'general learning' is going to be picked up along the way. After a certain place in life, it seems like you'd be going back for a certain set of skills that you could use to find work in a specific field.

Because, without trying to be too smug, what exactly would someone our age gain in the 'general life skill' sense that I haven't picked up in the 20 years since high school?

20 years of real world experience has to be at least equal to 4 years of formal schooling. ;)

But I can see thinking "Oh there's a lot of opportunity in X. Might make sense to got learn about Y & Z so I can get into the X industry in some capacity."

I'm not sure I have much of a new point here. Just repeating myself a bit, but that example stuck out for some reason.


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Monday, May 2, 2011 10:24 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

One thing that a college degree does demonstrate (whether it's causal or just correlated) is the ability to set a goal and follow through on your own initiative.

Granted you might be able to get the same data by testing whether people go to the gym every day for four years or whether they can stay on a diet for four years, but you are getting that data.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Monday, May 2, 2011 12:27 PM
Jeff's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
20 years of real world experience has to be at least equal to 4 years of formal schooling.

But by your own admission, you keep going back to a specific trade, which is not what school is about. Twenty years mounting bumpers on Fords does not teach you anything that you picked up in four years of college.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, May 2, 2011 1:00 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Umm, sure.

I think you've twisted it a little too far from the point of that line as it sat in the context of the post though.

But yeah, I understand what your take is - it's not about the degree you get or the field of study as much as it is the extra things you pick up with an additional four years of schooling.

And even with that, I still feel like I did before.


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Monday, May 2, 2011 5:24 PM

I'm a recent college grad and I am definitely of the opinion our society puts way to much emphasis on college. I think it's become a lot of what high school used to be. Since so many go, it's more of a weed out process than the actual education which counts. If you can show you made it through, you have a leg up because of that, not necessarily because of what you learned.

There are areas that legitimately need a lot education beforehand, but for most careers something like a 6 month apprenticeship would be a lot better use of time/money than 4+ years in a college (for both the employee who could forgo the expense and the company which could start at lower salary). Also, I know way too many people doing the same jobs they did in college. Graduating in a lot of (maybe most) fields just doesn't give the big leg up it once did.

On the issue of the school year, I'd say prevent it from starting before the last week of August and leave it at that.


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Monday, May 2, 2011 6:53 PM

So maybe Eagle Scouts shouldn't have to go to college. :)

I think the issue of post-secondary education is a mixed bag. Does college teach you skiils that are useful in life? Yes. Are those skills general and not related to one specific career/trade? Yes (though some degrees also teach specific skills). Is it expensive? Yes. Are there other ways of obtaining said skills? Yes. Do some jobs actually require a college degree? Yes. Do all jobs for which you essentially need a college degree to even get an interview actually require one? No.

From what I have seen, there is a change that is in progress. 25 years ago when I graduated high school, the manufacturing jobs had pretty much dried up but we had not heard the mantra since birth that we needed to go to college. Since about 15 years or so so, that mantra was pretty much given to all kids from the time they could talk. There are a lot of kids who go to college because they think its necessary for them to have any chance at a decent career/life. But for a lot of kids, no real thought was given as to why they would go to college, what they would get out of it, do they belong there, are there better options, etc. Just go to college and get a degree. Their parents couldn't provide much guidance because they typically had not gone to college themselves or their experience was at a time when folks who went to college were small in number and thus set apart from field no matter what their degree/area of study. And you get a lot of folks who are disillusioned with a degree in hand but no real job prospects and what is essentially a mortgage before they even buy a house.

When the manufacturing jobs went away in large numbers, there was a knee jerk reaction towards college. I think the pendulum will swing back (and the process has started) somewhat with a realization that college isn't for everyone. Particularly if you look at debt levels when exiting college compared to potential earnings. Colleges owe disclosure with respect to benefits of various degrees (placement numbers, where graduates work upon graduation, 10 years after, etc). But ultimately the responsibility of finding that info is on the students (and their parents). And I see that happening more now. Go in with your eyes wide open and be realistic about expectations. There should also be mandatory finance/economics education in this country starting in grade 1 and moving through at least the end of high school. I think over the next 5-10 years, we will see more alternatives taken with respect to 4 year degrees. Two year programs, vocational training, apprenticeships, etc. I understand that we are already seeing some of that now. And I expect we will see other options beyond the standard "college prep" curriculums that dominate most high schools at this point.

And I think increased year requirements for various programs are also a mixed bag. Yes there is more info out there that needs to be understood. But actions are also taken to protect the monopolies of licensed professions in some instances (and I am/have been the beneficiary of two such monopolies).

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Monday, May 2, 2011 11:30 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

+1


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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 2:09 PM
delan's avatar

Jeff said:


You are aware, of course, that job markets have shifted significantly away from manufacturing and trade to service and technology, right?......

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De Ja Vu...I think this topic came up before. But I like what J said here. We see countries like India and China about to pass us in the dust...Why? They invest in higher education. They no longer have to travel to the Harvard's or the MIT's because they now have their own spectacular universities. Higher education drives development, research, and innovation, things that make America the greatest country on earth.

I think we all agree that college is not for everyone. But like many big decisions in life, if one is informed, deliberate, and make the appropriate inquiries, the sky is the limit.

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