In January of 2014, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie proposed longer school days and shorter summer breaks for students during his State of the State address. According to transcripts published in the Washington Post, Christie stated, “Life in 2014 demands something more for our students. It is time to lengthen both the school day and school year in New Jersey.” Although he offered few details in his speech of how he proposed to do this, as a parent, I fear the worst.
Considering Many Factors
My heart went out to educators throughout the state as soon as I heard the governor’s proposal. I was a teacher myself for over 15 years. I always worked hard to prepare for the school year, even during the summer. What would happen if you took part of that summer away? When I was teaching, most Augusts were spent straightening my classroom, sorting through inventory, cleaning, doing bulletin boards and labeling books, folders and desks for new students. I also knew how hard my students worked during a typical school year. By the time they returned home, it was 4:00 or later. Many of them went to after-care programs until their parents returned from work. Some did not get back to their own homes till after 6:00. Some never played outside after school, simply because they didn’t have time. Extending a school day would leave them with even less time, even less time to simply be children.
Losing More Money
I worry that extending a school year and a school day would cost already over-burdened districts even more money. I worry long-term for the business owners of the Jersey Shore. A shorter summer for students would mean less consumers during a regular shore season. Could businesses deal with another financial blow after Hurricane Sandy?
Let Children Be Children
As a parent, I want my son to work hard in school and achieve his best, but I also want him to be a child. I want him to love school as much as I did growing up, and play with his friends happily on the playground. I don’t want him to be an overworked kindergartner or an angry middle schooler because his summer break was shortened and he no longer has as much time with his family at home. No system is perfect and there is always room for improvement in any institution. However, it shouldn’t be changed at the expense of our children’s well-being.