Many benefits to year-round schooling

Students should come first in any educational calendar or system of instruction.

Editor: Like the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.”

That seems to be the case with the issue of year-round schooling with many Langley parents as reported by Monique Tamminga and published in the Jan. 31 edition of The Times.

Despite Langley superintendent of schools Suzanne Hoffman’s cogent defence of year-round schooling, it seems that some vocal parents refuse to even consider a far superior calendar format for delivering educational programs. Unfortunately, year-round schooling has not been implemented in enough B.C. schools for a sufficient length of time to ascertain its benefits over the anachronistic, agrarian-based 10-month system which has been in place since a majority of people lived on farms throughout the province, if not the country.

For that, we may have to look to the United States and several European countries for assessing the value of year-round schooling. I can assure you that it is, by far, a better format.

When it comes to education, whose needs come first? Students? Parents? Teachers? Administrators? Taxpayers?

Students should come first. In today’s world, students need to be more adequately prepared for a very challenging future with a shrinking Canadian job market and the contracting out of thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of jobs to other parts of the world.

With advances in computer-assisted learning or e-learning, individualized educational programs and innovative forms of delivery of educational programs, students can be prepared more adequately for their future. Year-round schooling is one of those forms.

The 45-15 system should be adopted provincially from Kindergarten to the post-graduate level, so that all students have a greater amount of flexibility in obtaining an education anywhere in the province, should their parents move or should they wish to enrol in a more specialized “magnet” school or advance to another level.

Unfortunately, I fear that a BC Liberal government or an NDP one will not have the intestinal fortitude to move to such an integrated, province-wide system, due to the resistance of a few parents and teachers and post-secondary instructors and professors who have grown too comfortable in their luxurious working status quo.

One advantage not thought of yet with the 45-15 system is the ability of administrators, teachers and students to take a 45-day leave for sabbatical or vacational purposes. Administrators and teachers could take in-service training or upgrade their credentials during a 45-day-long period, preceded and followed by a 15-day break which they could use either for a vacation or for preparation of learning materials.

Students could take a 75-day-long break for work (high school and university-level students) or for family vacation purposes.  In light of the average high school student completing most of their instructional time by early June, a 75-day break would be no different than the current school calendar’s summer holiday period.

I’m afraid that most of the comments reported in the article do not really hold water.

Kids are kids no matter what their school calendar looks like. Year-

round schooling will not impact on their being “kids.”

Camping could be carried out during any of the four 15-day breaks in the school year, including winter camping, which is quite an enjoyable experience.

Children can be involved in all kinds of outdoors activities, regardless of the weather, and only need to be dressed adequately.

Summer camps can also become winter, spring or fall camps, too.

University students would be on the same calendar as younger students and could work during the four 15-day breaks or take time off to work during any of the 45-day sessions, as we have already addressed.

Free stuff, like going to the park, can happen during any season. All you have to do is dress appropriately for it.

Indoor play centres are not the only places for children to play.

Year-round schooling with an extended day can address over-populated school issues by having classes being conducted between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or later, particularly at the high school and post-secondary levels.

Air conditioning can be installed, as it would be a capital cost and not an operational cost.

The number of children involved in small agriculture or hobby farming, let alone large farms, is relatively small and they can opt for the 75-day summer break under the 45-15 day scheme, if need be.

In conclusion, I hope that Langley and other school districts can turn to the next government and seek support for year-round schooling as I have suggested.

It would see an improvement in student performance, in attendance, in reduced time spent in review in September, in use of schools and in helping students in meeting the demands that their future will bring.

G.E. MacDonell,

Abbotsford