Groups such as Save Our Summer and Preserve Traditional School Year that are forming all around the country share a common set of values and carefully considered positions—we are not ‘just-say-no-to-change’ groups. We acknowledge the challenges faced by today’s educational institutions, we welcome informed and inclusive discussion about educational reforms, and we are open to adopting reforms that may require change. However, we believe that reforms must have clearly defined goals, an evidenced-based rationale, a strong likelihood of producing positive outcomes, and the process for reform must meaningfully involve those affected by reform.
The process for Calendar 2.0 deliberation is falling short of our democratic standard. Detailed information about the proposal and process for change has not been shared adequately and the pace at which this proposal has been forwarded has left little time for community input. Time for comments and questions at the forums is likely to be limited, so we encourage people to share their unique, detailed perspectives regarding this proposal by writing directly to their superintendents, school boards, school principals, and local newspapers. We can also share your letters on our website and our Facebook timeline.
Please see our new letters section with one such letter from an SOS member that eloquently details the many practical concerns associated with Calendar 2.0 from a mom’s perspective and offers positive, alternative solutions to educational challenges from a teacher’s perspective.
SOS in the news! Thanks to Janet H-C for speaking for our group & broadening this conversation to the wider community. This piece, http://www.wcax.com/story/23319212/group-fighting-to-keep-traditional-summer-vacation points out even more practical issues with 2.0- specifically: who will be organizing, supervising, and providing transportation for “students involved in internship and job-shadowing opportunities” over the new break periods? Will these activities be required in some way (via the new learning plans for gr 7-12) and therefore constrict opportunities for family vacation time? Aren’t these opportunities already available and occurring (including taking the form of actual employment) over the current summer break? More questions to bring to the forums…
Feedback from many SOS members over the back-to-school week suggests that few people in the Champlain Valley are aware of the Calendar 2.0 proposal, and many of those who are aware do not believe that it will be adopted. We need to spread the word that this reform, which will have far-reaching consequences for the entire Valley, is very likely to be implemented if the community does not respond.
Please share the posting below with your friends and colleagues.
A year-round school proposal, called Calendar 2.0, will reduce summer vacation by several weeks and create longer vacation blocks throughout the year. For students performing below standards, remedial intercessions will take the place during the vacation times. The plan, which appears to have been formulated without input from parents, teachers, or other community members, is being fast -tracked for implementation by the Champlain Valley Superintendents Association- despite mounting practical and financial concerns. A statement by a CVSA member (reported in several local papers last month) sums up where things are in the decision-making process:
“According to Milton School Superintendent John Barone, the group (CVSA) has reached consensus that at least part of Calendar 2.0 will happen in fall 2014, with full implementation after that. “We have committed as a group that this is a proposal we want to move forward with,” Barone said. “A majority of us want to go forward with full implementation in 2014/2015, but a lot depends on this meeting and the public forums.” (http://miltonindependent.com/exploring-new-school-calendar/)
The CVSA is hosting four meetings in October to elicit feedback from the community. These meetings will be the only chance community members will have to voice concerns and ask questions before the CVSA votes on the new calendar. Questions that remain unanswered include:
Share your voice and bring your questions. Insist that educational reform be change for the sake of progress, not change for the sake of change. Mark your calendars and plan to attend!
Oct 2 Essex HS
Oct 3 BFA St Albans
Oct 9 Burlington HS
Oct 10 CVU
All meetings begin at 6:30 pm.
School starts this week (Vermont summer sure flies by quickly!) for public schools. As we send our children back to the classroom, let’s send a huge THANKS to the entire school community-teachers, office staff, bus drivers, school nurses, PTs, OTs, SLPs, reading and math specialists, kitchen staff, maintenance, custodians, special educators, behavior interventionists, administrators, paraeducators, substitutes, ELL specialists, guidance staff, librarians, IT specialists, intensive needs specialists, coaches, social workers, EEE staff, after-school staff, and counselors- who have dedicated their lives to the education and enrichment of our children. Let’s also acknowledge the importance of partnerships with our local businesses, collaborations with cultural, environmental, and agricultural organizations, parent and community member involvement and volunteerism, civic service on behalf of education, and the many mentoring (formal and otherwise) alliances that support and enhance education. This dedication is a key reason that the Champlain Valley is one of the best places in the country to raise a family.
Let’s work together to preserve our community’s broad and inclusive definition of a successful path in life. Let’s recognize that successful learning and teaching are not defined by standardized test results alone. And let’s keep our reform discussions positive, informed, open to the voices of all stakeholders, and focused on the needs of our unique community. It’s the Vermont way!
August 20th will be the first day of school a year from today if Calendar 2.0 is adopted. If the voice of the community is not heard, our children, teachers, and staff will be required to spend extra weeks in hot classrooms and curtail their summer enrichment, employment, and rejuvenation plans to participate in an education reform designed without community input and with outcome goals unsupported by educational research. Getting the word out, sharing the research, and voicing the community’s concerns will be critical in the coming months. To echo the slogan of other state SOS coalitions and national traditional calendar advocates: School is cool, but not in August!