There was a time when Labor Day signaled the start of another school year was upon us. But over the past two decades, classes are beginning earlier and earlier. Now many parents across America are saying, “Enough.”
This weekend, Brittany and Jordan Sturner didn’t want to get out of the pool in order to head back to school.
But there are signs everywhere of summer’s end, including yellow buses and new backpacks. School’s back in session on this sizzling south Florida day and that’s not sitting well with a lot of parents.
“We’re not happy about this,” says Brittany and Jordan’s mother, Sherry Sturner, “and we’re not going to stand by and let it happen.”
Sturner and other parents are organizing a grass-roots effort to return to the traditional school year — including a 12-week summer break.
Advocates point to research that shows kids forget a lot of what they’ve learned over the summer.
“Teachers typically spend four to six weeks each fall re-teaching material that kids should have learned the previous year,” says Ron Fairchild of Johns Hopkins University.
Schools say they need the extra time to prepare students for standardized testing, but already a handful of states — including Iowa, North Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Texas — have passed laws to keep public schools from opening too early.
In fact, in Texas, where districts need state permission to start classes before the week of Aug. 21, parents are trying to push Day One back to early September.
Attractions like the Miami Seaquarium feel the immediate pinch of the earlier school start. Officials say daily attendance will drop by nearly half beginning today, costing $25,000 in revenue this week alone.
But the park’s general manager, Andrew Hertz, says it’s the kids who are losing out. “They lose the opportunity to come out and enjoy themselves,” says Hertz. “They lose the opportunity to come out and learn about these animals, and have that add up as part of their schooling.”
Whenthat schooling starts is now part of a growing fight.