Virginia Senate committee maintains "Kings Dominion" law to set school year

Posted Friday, January 27, 2012 9:40 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A Senate panel led by Republicans on Thursday rejected legislation backed by Gov. Bob McDonnell to repeal a decades-old regulation that prohibits school districts from starting classes before Labor Day. The Senate Education and Health Committee voted 9-6 to shelve legislation that would have done away with the state's "Kings Dominion" law, so named because the amusement park was among the proponents of the legislation in the 1980s.

Read more from The Times-Dispatch.

Sunday, January 29, 2012 10:48 AM

While I would not like to see schools starting before Labor Day - I feel that over the next few years you might see a trend of that starting to happen.

People are "angry"at teachers and are demanding givebacks, a change in the tenure system, more days of staff development, teacher evaluations, longer school days, and longer school calendars etc. One of the reasons the teachers in my school district are't pushing for air-conditioners is because it would make it easier to schedule classes in July or August.

Also, it's no secret that America as a country is falling behind most other nations in terms of the quality of our education. We spend so much more per student, but get little in return.

There are also things in this country that American teachers have to deal with that is not tolerated in other countries...speakers of foreign language, children who misbehave, parents who are uneducated and who don't value education. (Etc) Any teacher will tell you that a child is going to do much better if he or she has involved parents.

True, there are pockets of greatness where the haves truly out perform the have-nots, but that has been and will always be the case...except that there are a lot more have nots these days. When a wealthy district needs to cut a sports program the PTA holds fundraisers in order to restore it. Poorer districts can't make up those losses.

Personally, the best way to deal with our educational system is controversial. Here are my opinionated ideas...

1) Realize that every child is not going to get a regents diploma. Group the classes by ability so that our brightest children can get the benefit of fewer distractions, less teaching to tests and inevitably, less distractions.

2) Remove violent children from the population. Group them in small classrooms (in special schools) where they can learn funtional skills and not take away from the educational process.

3) Make parents equally accountable for their children.

4) Make children accountable for themselves.

I realize this will never happen because it's too easy to just blame teachers on poor performance.

This is a lot more important than determining if business diminishes at the end of the summer at an amusement park. Though corporate America has enormous influence on policy.

(Sigh....) Ok....rant over.

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Monday, January 30, 2012 8:25 AM

Currently, school systems can open early only with a waiver from the Virginia Board of Education for "good cause."

McDonnell, who as a legislator from Virginia Beach supported the law, now contends that over the years, the exception has become the rule, with 77 of the state's 132 school divisions carrying waivers.

Wonder what consitutes "good cause" and if certain districts have an easier/harder time showing it?

Lobbyists representing retailers, restaurants, hotels and parts of the state where tourism is popular said starting school early would cost the state $369 million in lost revenue and wages and $21 million in tax revenue.

Shouldn't at least some of that money be recovered with kids getting out of school earlier the following year (if they start earlier this year)? No matter when they start, the kids will be in school 180 days in the school year.

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Monday, January 30, 2012 4:09 PM

Some probably would. But, it seems to me that more people vacation in late summer vs late spring.

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Monday, January 30, 2012 4:33 PM

But wouldn't people vacation before school starts no matter when it starts? What do the folks in Michigan and Virginia know that the other 48 states do not in terms of when school starts?

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