School Start Time Stirs Controversy

On Aug. 31, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan passed an executive order insisting that all Maryland schools begin their 2017-2018 school year after Labor Day and end by June 15, not including snow days.

The pushed back start date would allow students to have a longer summer vacation and generate millions of dollars of revenue in Ocean City, where many Maryland families visit through the Labor Day weekend. However, the changes to the school year would most likely mean less days off as well as less time to learn AP curricula since AP test dates will remain the same.

Hogan stated, “This Executive Order puts the best interests of Marylanders first, especially the well-being of our students.”

While there were differing opinions, most students agreed that it would be difficult for AP students and their curricula.

Senior Shay Stewart said, “I think it’s an okay idea. But [the College Board is] not changing the test times for AP tests, so you have to learn material in a shorter amount of time, which is not convenient.”

However, Mt. Hebron parent Jackie McKenzie believes the opposite. “It’s a week difference in school. The [release] timing, if there are no snow days, is a normal time for [students] to get out. So, if the classes are prepared correctly and the curriculum is set, then it shouldn’t hurt the study time for AP tests.”

Shortening breaks and removing holidays throughout the school year is another possibility.  This would allow school systems to fulfill the requirement for students to attend school for 180 days.

“I mean this doesn’t affect me too much because I won’t be here next year. But you have to get rid of a lot of days off in the year, which I don’t like,” Stewart also stated.

Junior Rachel Elkis agreed. “I would prefer if shortening of breaks could be avoided, but that probably isn’t possible.”

Many professionals disagree with Hogan’s plans, citing the theory of “brain drain” — the recorded loss of information from school in a student’s mind over the summer — as a detriment to this plan. In addition, many students find safety and comfort in school, and the new order limits this amount of time.

Counties will be able to apply for exemption waivers, which would allow school systems to start their academic year before Labor Day. This is a system used in Virginia, where a law was put into action 20 years ago that forces schools to start after Labor Day. Recently, Fairfax County applied for a waiver that will allow them to start their 2017-2018 school year before Labor Day.

Overall, there are many pros and cons to this decision, and only time will tell what Marylanders will decide.

(Photo courtesy of wbal.com)

Categories: Opinions

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