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The student's voice: a critique of our new calendar

In August of 2016, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order requiring schools to start after Labor Day and close by June 15, while still completing the required 180 instructional days.

This order was quickly preceded by strong discord from both educators and politicians, including Montgomery County’s own president of the Board Of Education, Michael A. Durso and Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

Even though it was surrounded by great controversy, Hogan’s order went to effect this school year. Students in Montgomery County began school on the Tuesday following Labor Day instead of the usual last Monday of August. While this one week difference might not seem like much to those unaffected by it, it’s impact continues to be prevalent to students, staff, and parents.

For lower income families this meant that they would have one more week of childcare to pay for, while for other families this change meant one more week to vacation. For staff, it meant that they would have a decreased amount of professional days and possibly less time to teach the required content.

Just like the effects, the reactions to this new change vary. Some students and parents celebrated this change as an extra week of summer to enjoy before diving into the school year, but the voices of students and staff who opposed the change cannot be ignored.

An abundance of educators and parents have stated that this change does more harm than good to students by increasing the amount of time that they spend out of school, ultimately increasing the chances of the “brain drain” -students forgetting what they learned in the previous year-especially in lower income families who cannot afford to enroll their children in academic enrichment programs over the summer break.

AP students and teachers especially have voiced their concerns about the possible disadvantage Maryland students will be at while taking Ap exams, due to having less instructional days than students in other states.

Another major concern from students is the length of spring break. Montgomery County has designated four schools days for Spring break, counting Easter and Good Friday. But, students and teachers may not get these days due to school closures caused by emergency weather conditions, specifically snow.

In the past Montgomery County has made up for these missed instructional days by simply adding school days to the schedule, but because of this executive order, Montgomery County has stated that, “the Board adopted a calendar contingency plan that identifies dates that could be used as instructional days if necessary to make up school due to emergency and weather-related closings. Two of these days are the first two days of the scheduled spring break, March 26 and 27, 2018. One day, January 26, 2018, would replace a professional day if needed to be used as a makeup day.”

This means that students could possibly have an even shorter Spring break, obstructing vacation plans and trips for the students and their families. Teacher could also lose yet another professional day, giving them even less time to plan out lessons and grade assignments.

As this is the first year that Hogan’s executive order is being implemented, we will have to wait and see how things go as Montgomery county figures out how to ensure that students are receiving the best possible education, while still meeting the requirements set by the Governor.

Written by Hurelayn Abdu

Published by PR Department

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