Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Skerritt column: Law tweak could restore early school starts

It looks like the Florida Senate is about to mess around with summer vacation again.

Senate Bill 2816 is up for committee discussion in Tallahassee on Wednesday. The idea is to give local school districts more flexibility about when they could start the school year.

That sounds reasonable, but the proposal could weaken one of the most family-friendly pieces of education legislation passed in recent years and set the stage for students to again return to school in the first week of August.

The present school calendar isn't perfect. We'd be moving toward year-round scheduling if we were really serious about pushing students to learn. But we're not there yet, and the current legislative tweaking isn't going near that issue.

It seeks to "correct'' a law passed two years ago when some school districts reconvened from summer vacation as early as July 31 because educators wanted to get a jump on preparing for the all-important Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Starting early meant getting students tested before the winter break.

Whether that translated into better test scores, it did cause a growing resentment among parents who felt shortchanged because their kids were rushed back into school in the summer, even as many of their out-of-state friends and relatives came to visit. Legislators responded by barring districts from reopening more than 14 days before Labor Day.

Some saw this move as a triumph of nostalgia — catering to parents who recalled their own lazy days of summer. But it was more than that.

"This really affects valuable family time, " said Miami-Dade resident Sherry Sturner, whose group Save Our Summers lobbied successfully for the change.

Critics said her group was a pawn of the restaurant and resort industries who love having all those willing high school students available to work in August.

That's unfair. This is a clash of values: education excellence vs. family time. There should not be a law against having both.

Andrew Skerritt can be reached at askerritt@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4602 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4602.

Skerritt column: Law tweak could restore early school starts 03/24/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 1:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Deputies: Tampa man killed after car strikes tree

    Accidents

    TOWN 'N COUNTRY — A 24-year-old man was killed early Sunday after he lost control of his car, causing it to hit a pine tree.

  2. O.J. Simpson had a 'conflict-free life'? Not really, not in Florida

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — When O.J. Simpson told a Nevada parole board last week that he's led a "conflict-free life," he seemed to overlook a few episodes that had him cycling in and out of courtrooms and jail cells for nearly 20 years before the Las Vegas hotel-room heist that sent him to prison in 2008.

    Former NFL football star O.J. Simpson appears via video for his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev., on Thursday, July 20, 2017.  Simpson was granted parole Thursday after more than eight years in prison for a Las Vegas hotel heist, successfully making his case in a nationally televised hearing that reflected America's enduring fascination with the former football star.  [The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP]
  3. Baby Charlie protesters to rally as hospital reports threats

    World

    LONDON — Protesters who want critically ill British baby Charlie Gard to receive an experimental medical treatment are planning a rally and prayer vigil Sunday, while hospital officials say emotions are running so high in the heart-breaking case they have received death threats.

    Reverend Patrick Mahoney from Washington DC, centre, speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, as he joins other Charlie Gard supporters, Sunday July 23, 2017. Protesters who want critically ill British baby Charlie Gard to receive an experimental medical treatment gathered for a rally and prayer vigil Sunday, while hospital officials say emotions are running so high in the heart-breaking case they have received death threats. [Associated Press]