It’s not a new contention, and not one that anyone who’s ever had any contact with kids would argue: Once the snow melts, the grass is revealed once again, the birds start chirping, the tulips start blooming and the sun feels possibly stronger and more glorious than at any other time of the year around these parts, young people get a little restless. A little excited. Insanely hyperactive, even, when you’re talking about the youngest of the young people.
Ask teachers, especially in the elementary schools, how restless the kids can get once spring truly springs. Ask those teachers how much tougher it gets to actually teach their students something when spring is in full bloom, and actually have what was taught remain in their students’ brains for longer than 10 seconds.
Which is why one can’t really argue with what Highland School sixth grade teacher Barb Chapman said at last week’s Crookston School Board meeting: If all these storm days in the school district since January – six days cancelled in all after Monday’s blizzard, including no school today, even – result in the board considering the addition of a day or two onto this year’s school calendar, doing so at the very end of the academic year at the end of May is something that should be avoided if at all possible. If at least one day is going to be added, Chapman said, she’d much prefer that it be added prior to this spring’s high-stakes MCA state tests. Adding a day or days to the end of May isn’t school, she said, it’s babysitting. (With two more days lost this week, however, granting Chapman’s wish might be impossible.)
If the board agrees with her, however, they’re in a pickle. The Monday after Easter is available, and Good Friday before, too, but Superintendent Chris Bates doesn’t seem like a big fan of having school that day, since the day off was built into the school calendar a long time ago, and families have made their Easter plans under the assumption the kids have a long weekend. (That’s an exceptionally long weekend for the students this year, with parent/teacher conferences preceding it.)
There are no laws in play here. The state doesn’t have a statute on the books requiring a minimum number of school days each year. This is an entirely local call.
So maybe the local call should be to take whatever academic lumps have been taken this year through all this missed teaching and learning time because of Mother Nature, or maybe add a day or two of glorified babysitting at the end of May, but then look ahead to the next school year and years beyond. Maybe the concept of a four-day Easter weekend needs to go away. We know about “Good Friday,” but when did it become so commonplace and acceptable to assume a day off on “Easter Monday”? What is “Easter Monday” anyway?
Page 2 of 2 - Easter is on a Sunday. Have school on Friday. Or have school on the following Monday. Or have school on both days. Then, if you lose some school days to winter storms, at least you have an additional school day or two on the calendar already built in, likely before the kids start getting too worked up about spring’s arrival outside the classroom window.