Langley School District got an earful when it hosted a forum on possible changes to the school calendar last Tuesday.
Many parents are against offering classes in the summer months, saying that’s when the weather is good and they can plan extended family activities. Some pointed out that it is hard for many families to get away in winter months to warmer climes, because of the cost of travelling.
Some studies have demonstrated that students retain more from their studies when there are a series of shorter breaks between learning, as opposed to the more than two-month break from late June to early September in the current school calendar.
However, school breaks are about more than just classroom learning. Many societal activities are built around children being out of school for the months of July and August.
Many businesses offer employees vacation time during July and August, when weather is better. There are also more opportunities for children to take part in a host of outdoor activities — from swimming lessons to summer sports and arts camps.
Businesses often prefer to have employees take breaks during the summer, because many of them simply aren’t as busy. The same holds true for governments. Langley Board of Education does not meet at all during the summer, and Langley Township council takes the entire month of August off, while doing less business in July than in a normal month.
There are many other routines built into society which are at least partially governed by when students are out of school. To even consider changing the school calendar without taking into account all these other factors makes no sense.
The only reason there is a mad rush to discuss it is an arbitrary provincial deadline for boards to make a decision — in March. Given that there is an election in May and the BC Liberals are doing all they can to attract attention, is it possible this is simply an election ploy, and not even worth discussing right now?
If the province and school district truly want to improve learning outcomes, many other factors need discussing — including classroom composition, disruptive behaviour, teacher bargaining, online learning, bullying in schools and many other factors within the school system that inhibit learning.