Parent complaints about early school days grow
Our friends on the Gradebook blog report here that the Manatee School Board is considering ending its experiment with an early release day to give teacher's planning time. With more demands on teachers to prepare and meet together, many Florida school districts have adopted early release days to give educators that time together. Hillsborough uses Mondays. Pinellas does it on Wednesdays.
But in Manatee County, parents have inundated the School Board with complaints about it. So much so that the board is considering whether to return to five full days of instruction. Board members note that a change could help parents while adding to student learning time, but also realize that time for teacher training and planning still must be provided.
Parents in Hillsborugh and Pinellas have similar complaints. There's a Facebook pagecalled Parents Against Half Days in Hillsborough County that has been beating this drum for more than a year, and in Pinellas a recent survey by the Pinellas County Council of Parent Teacher Associations and the Pinellas Education Foundation, respondents opposed early release Wednesday by a margin of 47 percent compared to 43 percent who favor it, with 10 percent undecided. The margin opposing early release Wednesday increases substantially after removing school employees from the survey results. In that group, 54 percent oppose it and 33 percent favor it.
The Pinellas teacher's union has defended it as a "no cost" way of giving teachers planning time, to which parents have said, "No cost?" Having to pay for after-care or leave work early or seeing their kids lose class time has been a cost in their eyes.
"We do need to have well-trained teachers," Manatee County School Board member Bob Gause told the Herald-Tribune. "There is going to have to be some time built in somewhere to have them attend training."
The Manatee board is set to vote in early June on the matter.
What do you think they should do? How is your life affected by early release days? Should Pinellas and Hillsborough follow Manatee's lead?
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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