School year creep, destroying kids summers

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(KPLR) – In Monday's Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at how to destroy summer.

There's a military term called, mission creep. That happens when your original mission; say driving the Taliban out of a village, slowly creeps up until you're suddenly in charge of re-building the village and driving the Taliban from the entire region as well. A corollary to that has become school year creep. The original mission was to push up test scores. But now its job seems to be to destroy summer, without helping kids.

Back in the Jurassic, school started after .Labor Day in September and ran until around Flag Day, the early or middle part of June. But then we in America discovered or thought we discovered that our schools were failing. And how do you improve that? Why, you have kids take standardized tests. Pretty soon school aid and school accreditation were tied to those test scores. And before you know I, everything from jobs and new textbooks to schools remaining open depended on those test scores.

The problem with the school year that started in September was that kids wouldn’t take their standardized exams for the first semester until after Christmas break. And since everybody knows two weeks off for the holidays empties out your brain, school administrators decided students would do better if they took the tests before Christmas break. But the only way to end the first semester by then was to start school in August.

On the down side, we all know the damage starting school in August has done. What should be the last lazy halcyon days of summer became a rush of back to school sales and cracking the books.  

But the kids get a long weekend after a few weeks of school anyway for Labor Day, which is supposed to be the end of the summer. No parents I know like school starting un august.

But the whole thing was supposed to help with scores on standardized tests, remember? Well, maybe not. You see, research from Doctor David Gilden at the University of Texas shows that starting the school year early hasn't improved standardized test scores at all. Time to admit this was a bad idea and switch school opening back after Labor Day.

I'm Charles Jaco and that's Jacology.

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Email: charles.jaco@tvstl.com