Cobb school board member David Banks answers critics who accuse him of flip-flopping on the school calendar in Cobb, which just adopted a “balanced’ calendar starting next year.
His comments appear in a good AJC story on the trend toward balanced calendars in which students get a shorter summer and two midyear breaks. Many parents worry that it is the first step to a year-round calendar where summer dwindles to only a few weeks. In most balanced calendars, summer remains a good chunk of time, about nine weeks, but all of August is spent back at school.
Here is what Banks said:
But then Banks, one of the newest members of Cobb’s school board, said he started listening to teachers and parents about the downsides of a late start and the potential benefits of a “balanced calendar” with an earlier start and more breaks for students throughout the year.
“If a person really has some integrity, they’ll say they were wrong, and I was wrong,” Banks said, explaining why he helped to pass a balanced school calendar two weeks ago, over objections from a vocal group of parents.
I remain dubious about the academic merits of shifting to a balanced calendar and still wonder if the change is worth all the parent protests. Banks says later in the story that the e-mail complaints have fallen off and that most parents want the change:
Banks said opponents of the change kept the e-mails flying before the vote and for a few days after.
“It was pretty tough,” he said. “The opposition just can’t believe people want a balanced calendar, and they’re not willing to accept that.”
I would question whether Banks and other Cobb board members are seeing parental satisfaction with the calendar or resignation that it’s a done deal.
My own system adopted the same calendar, and our superintendent recently sent home a letter reminding us that the change occurs in 2010. The letter reignited the discussion of the calendar on one of the local school listservs. I would describe parents on the listserv as resigned to the change; few seem enthusiastic.
I also still question the argument that the change to an Aug. 1 start date benefits testing since now students take all their tests before the holiday break and thus should do better. Again, many states that outperform us resume school after Labor Day, so I don’t see why Georgia students suffered somehow because they were starting school in mid August.
I think we all will adjust to the calendar. Not sure folks in Cobb have any other choice but to do the same.