Summer may be a period of hot and sticky misery for many Floridians, but for high school students in North Pinellas County, it is the best time of the year. And they don't want those lazy days of summer mucked up by the implementation of year-round schools. Earlier this month we asked students what they think about going to school year-round.
We noted that many educators and one candidate for governor, Lawton Chiles, have called for year-round schools to make better use of classroom space, to prevent students from forgetting what they learn over the summer break, and to enable teachers to cover more new material with less review.
Several schools in Florida are on year-round schedules, and some school districts are studying the idea. In Pinellas County, the faculty of Campbell Park Elementary School has asked the School Board for permission to adopt a year-round schedule and serve as a pilot project for Pinellas.
Students in year-round schools don't go to school all year without a break. But students don't get the whole summer off. They go to school the same number of days, but vacations are scattered more evenly throughout the year.
In some year-round schools, all the students get vacations at the same time. In so-called "multitrack" schools, the student body is divided into several groups that rotate vacations so the building is in use all year.
Most of the hundreds of students who wrote to the Teen Opinion Page on this subject don't care how the schedule is arranged _ they don't want to give up their summer vacation. They need the time to relax and just be kids, they said. And if they had to go to school during the summer, they wrote, they would lose out on summer jobs to earn money for cars and college, summer camp, summer enrichment courses and vacations with their parents and siblings.
In the minority were students who said education is more important than any of those concerns. They enthusiastically endorsed the idea of year-round schools. Some wrote that the United States is falling behind other nations because it is not committed to rigorous education of children. Year-round schools would be a step in the right direction, those students wrote. Others said they like the idea because they wouldn't forget so much during the summer, the schools would be less crowded and summers wouldn't be so boring.
A sample of the teens' letters appears on this page. The next Teen Opinion Page topic will be published Nov. 3.