If Cobb is worried about heat stroke on buses, maybe we’re starting school too early. (Cobb starts tomorrow.)

I have to agree with the Cobb parent who alerted me to this new posting on a Cobb high school website. If we have to worry about heat related illnesses on school buses, perhaps we ought to rethink these early August starts. My kids went back Monday. Cobb goes back tomorrow.

From the Cobb  website:

In an effort to minimize heat related illnesses that could occur on school buses, we are asking for your assistance to inform parents and staff regarding the following transportation protocol to begin August 5, 2010, the first day of school.

Bus drivers will allow ALL students K-12, to bring water only on the bus during their PM bus ride only. Water containers should have a secure twist-on lid. No cups with snap on lids and no straws please. We will follow this protocol until further notice. We anticipate following this protocol through the month of September. Buses will operate with windows fully open and utilizing roof hatches in the correct position to optimize air flow.

246 comments Add your comment

Cobb Parent

August 4th, 2010
3:32 am

Maureen- we had meet and greet/open house at my childs midddle school today and the air was not working. It was hotter inside the building than outside.

Lynn

August 4th, 2010
5:51 am

When I heard about the heat advisory for today and tomorrow, I immediately thought about Cobb. This is a PR nightmare for the system because this issue as been so contentious for them.

School starts to early. This is absurd. If they want shorter summers, then have the kids in school more in June. August is always hotter.

Maureen, was there resistance to starting this early in your system?

Where Are Their Brains

August 4th, 2010
6:03 am

Only allowed water on PM? How do they propose these kids get water for only a PM ride? And why not turn the air conditioning on on the buses? All that hot air blowing around outside just comes in the windows, etc. These people definitely ARE NOT smarter than a fifth grader – they aren’t even as smart as a first grader. Where are these school districts getting these idiots that make these decisions?

Where Are YOUR Brains

August 4th, 2010
6:30 am

The buses do NOT have air conditioning.

Mayhem Is Coming

August 4th, 2010
6:30 am

My kids have long since graduated high school however, they were going back to school on August 19 in the mid 90’s and I thought that was unnecessary. Going back to school the first week of August is when the sublime becomes the ridiculous.
Since Georgia continues to limp along at the bottom in education, the kids are increasingly tested more every year; a system that is meant to measure the teachers more than the kids. Give the kids a break and go back to school the day after Labor Day and go to school until the second week of June. They’re kids, give ‘em a break and quit passing the adult problems onto them. Afterall, there isn’t much farther down the Georgia school systems can fall.

Mom in Rural Georgia

August 4th, 2010
6:40 am

It is a waste of taxpayer money to begin school in early August. Can you even begin to estimate the power bills generated by every school in every county in Georgia running the air conditioning at full force during the hottest month of the year? Where is the common sense?

Shawny

August 4th, 2010
6:50 am

Start it after labor day. Take out some of the breaks.

Mom in Rural Georgia

August 4th, 2010
7:00 am

There are two reasons we start so early. 1. Our extremely low test scores would be even lower in March if the kids didn’t start early (even though the CRCT is ridiculously easy- some schools still administer ITBS(national test) and need an extra month to prepare.) 2. Having “almost year round school” helps justify the addition of more and more administrators in the various board offices and schools across Ga., as well as justify their salaries.

Teaching Family

August 4th, 2010
7:04 am

Fulton pushed back the start date to August 23rd this year. It’ll still be hot, but at least it will mentally feel like its been a complete summer.

to mom in rural ga

August 4th, 2010
7:05 am

To mom in rural GA:
There are always “testing windows” to make up for various start dates. How else would northern schools, which typically post better results than southern schools, start in September?

Teacher whose classes started in July

August 4th, 2010
7:07 am

Our district had students begin on July 29th. This did seem ridiculous to me. The one benefit to a schedule that begins earlier and ends earlier relates to the AP exams. AP exams are always the first two weeks in May. The more days that I have before the AP exam, the better prepared I can have my students. I know many of the teachers up north who follow the more traditional, start after Labor day schedule and complain of a real disadvantage in their students’ class time prior to the AP exams.

AJinCobb

August 4th, 2010
7:09 am

@to mom in rural ga,

“There are always “testing windows” to make up for various start dates.”

Not always. There are no “windows” for AP exams, for example, unless you’re counting the timezone offsets.

Mom in Rural Georgia

August 4th, 2010
7:15 am

To AJinCobb and “TO mom in rural ga” – Our local administrators actually give the crct march testing date as their reason for beginning in early August – many parents have asked for a later start date, but the board office/administration always note that the kids need the extra month for the march CRCT and the May AP exams. Our district abandoned any other form of national testing – itbs is gone, all we have left is SAT/ACT and AP/IB from k through 12th. (one of the downsides of charter schools – we cannot compare our kids’ progress with the rest of the nation until HS)

Anthony

August 4th, 2010
7:18 am

This were purchasing air conditioned buses would be a smart move. The school systems in South and Central Florida have air conditioned bus and they go back to school later than we do.

One who Wonders

August 4th, 2010
7:19 am

In this time of budget crisis it only makes sense to start school when the outside air is cooler. I agree that schools start to early. I graduated from high school in the 60’s and we always started the last week of August, but then then we did not get a week off at the end of each six week grading period like some systems do now. Teachers did not have workdays to prepare grade reports either. In fact the teachers we had were able to teach the basic things we needed to know and not sime standardized test. Maybe we need a complete reset of education in Georgia and the entire country.

steven

August 4th, 2010
7:29 am

where i went to school in Pennsylvania in the 80’s, we started school generally the 1st day after labor day and got out 2nd week of june i believe i finished friday june 10th 1988 and would have started tuesday sept 6th 1988. here in carroll county, kids start on monday the 9th of august except pre-k and kindergarten. but they got out on friday may 21 2010 which is 11 weeks and a weekend up up north we had 12 weeks and a 3 day weekend. it is all a matter of perception. here the kids seem to have so many breaks during the school year yet the vacation in the summer is only 1 week 1 day shorter than up north. i’m not sure if it is federal or local law but all kids go to school for the same 180 days usually 7-8 hrs unless it is budget cuts furlow days the school board or politicians forgive days missed due to weather or disasters. so what is the big deal. why not go to school year round with 3 day weekends – holidays and a 2 week summer vacation how about just going 6 months but 10 -12 hr days, what about a super intensive learning where kids go every day except sunday from ages 5-18 but at the end at 18, there have the equivelent of a 4 year college degree because of the amount of time spent learning and not on vacation go to school at 7am and get home at 5 or 6pm just like mom or dad with a job.

Lynn

August 4th, 2010
7:33 am

AP scores in the Northeast are higher than in the South. Yet they start school generally a month later and give the AP test at the same time.

The CRCT window can be changed. All this early start is doing is costing much needed funds.

momof two

August 4th, 2010
7:34 am

Fred Sanderson and that school board must be really really scared if they are posting this warning this has never been done before. This is more than a PR nightmare because of the fact that no one wanted to start school this early. They are going to be facing lawsuits if anything happens to any of our children. Our children should not be treated like this….every meteorologist and health care provider is telling us not to go outside and certainly not to get on a school bus that can register well into the triple digits.

Teasley Dad

August 4th, 2010
7:54 am

I think as we see testing scores go down and down more days of school is something that should be looked at. I know today we don’t have the money to start a new system of longer school years but
I think it should happen when we can afford it. If that were to become a reality then we would need to put air conditioners on the buses and problem solved. A simple RV type system would get it done in a retrofit way. It means more money but ultimately it’s the easiest fix and would take the least amount of time. The sad thing is I bet the money just spent at Teasley for a grand new entrance and bus turn around would probably have bought the systems I just mentioned. It’s sad that a county as broke as Cobb would spend such lavish money to placate a few residences around the school who chose to buy houses next to a school and then whined enough to have major construction take place in a county that is cash strapped. There are myriad places that that money would have been better spent.

Kim

August 4th, 2010
7:58 am

Pft, why worry? If the parents are anything like the ones in Dekalb, none of the special snowflakes will even BE on the bus, they all get dropped off by the parents in their own personal school-bus-like vehicles (SUV).

Teasley Dad

August 4th, 2010
7:58 am

Too many days off during the year. Way too many. It seems as soon as routine settles in we have to deal with a day off or a week off for some reason or another.

Maureen? Maureen?

August 4th, 2010
8:04 am

Why are you dodging the follow up questions to the APS cheating scandal?

do the math

August 4th, 2010
8:09 am

180 teaching days = 180 teaching days, no matter what day you start. If you are really concerned about the quality of education, start complaining about furlough days scheduled during intended instructional days. Additionally, look at the average daily high temperature. On August 2, when my district started classes this year, the average high temperature in Marietta was 89 F. If the district pushed back to start date 2 weeks, the average high in Marietta would be 88 F. If the start date were to be pushed back until Labor Day, the average high only drops to 85 F, with a record high of 98 F. You are tilting at windmills, people.

Sogooden

August 4th, 2010
8:10 am

My daughter went back to school on July, 29 in Rockdale.

Maureen Downey

August 4th, 2010
8:12 am

@Maureen, Not dodging, Reporting. Calling people. Trying to talk with Dr. Fremer. Given the information released Monday, there are several key questions that remain:
1. If the cheating level is, as Dr. Fremer said, what he would expect in any school system, why are Atlanta numbers so different than the rest of the state? Why are they an outlier?
2. On the other hand, why didn’t the state fully release all test sheets so APS or any other system could have performed these additional reviews that Fremer says are critical to getting to the truth – what were the nature if the test items where answer changing occurred? Were there patterns among the hardest questions? DId kids change answers to the same questions.
3. If low income children do more erasures, can we compare testing patterns among low-income kids across districts?
With all the questions still remaining in this entire story, not sure how anyone can draw solid conclusions yet ab out who did what or whether any of this does fall within a “normal” range. And as someone who speaks to teacher rights, not sure why you would leap to any conclusions as people’s careers are on the line.

School Schedule

August 4th, 2010
8:14 am

…and of course the justification for what amounts to year round school was improved school performance…. so how has that worked out?

Have a son who just graduated HS and daughter who i a senior this year — the year round schedule has no effect on school performance — in fact I believe it is counter-productive. As others have said – longer school year and more contact with inept school administrators just provide more reasons for children to despise being at school in the upper grades. If children succeed in school it is due to a mix of parental involvement, good teachers, and an engaging learning environment. it has NOTHING to do with shortening summers. Worst bill of goods ever sold to txpayers and parents.

Georgia students STILL score roughly the same respectively today as when I graduated 27 years ago — hows that for longitudinal data….

Mother of three, Teacher of many

August 4th, 2010
8:16 am

As a mom and a teacher, I am gradually changing my position on the early start issue. In August, it is too hot for kids to play ourside past 11:00 am or so. An early August start allows for play time/family time in June, when it tends to be relatively cooler. An early August start also allows for the completion of a full semester before Christmas break, because who wants final exams hanging over them during the holidays.

Maureen Downey

August 4th, 2010
8:19 am

@Lynn, THis is our first year of going back early and moving to weekly breaks during the year. I have not talked to many parents who like it, but they are resigned to it for this year. I would not be surprised if there is not a call to change it next year.
Maureen

Philosopher

August 4th, 2010
8:22 am

Teasley Dad- I had 2 kids go through Teasley…believe, me, increasing the number of days the kids go to school there will NOT give your kid a better education. Ten years later, my youngest goes to another school in the county…the difference is like night and day.

Silence Dogood

August 4th, 2010
8:28 am

I’d be interested to know how many actually ride the bus in Cobb tomorrow and through August as well. Traffic around the schools will surely be worse than usual as more parents will drive to school especially in the lower grades. If CCSD is recommending and “allowing” water on the busses, what are they doing to supply it? Coke has cornered the market on vending machines and concessions in the schools, how about helping out in this crisis? Where are the partners in education?

School Schedule

August 4th, 2010
8:30 am

Teacher of many – so explain how colleges start late August or even early September — have 3 days a week less than a hour each day, and still finish a semester and finals by the second week of December? This is not about curriculum scheduling — sorry. It’s about “educational administrators” using specious (and apparently unverifiable) “research” to justify a scheduling policy that makes them look like they are trying something new and innovative. Sorry but that’s the story in education today — doesn’t really matter if it works just make sure you appear to be trying something “new” and different.

Another big reason the schedule is out of control is the RIDICULOUS curriculum “standards” imposed by our schools systems and state dept of ed. My wife teaches elementary school — in math, to “demonstrate proficiency” you not only must be able to answer that 6+4=10, you must be able to “explain how you figured that out” — well I know the rule of doubles and 6 is 2 more than 4 so take away 2 from the rule of doubles….. WTH? It extends the schedule 4 weeks just to have to deal with this nonsense — generations of the most innovative and intelligent people this country ever produced learned 6+4 = 10 JUST BECAUSE IT IS. Why do I not actually pass if I can’t come up with some namby-pamby explanation…. I got the answer right. That’s it. But no, we have to create all of these ridiculous curriculum standards (that never mean squat on a CRCT or SAT by the way) because it’s new nd innovative and some hot shot educational researcher has come up with a new ay to teach!!!! wow…. and we wonder why GA remains at the bottom of the list.

Philosopher

August 4th, 2010
8:37 am

@School Schedule: I absolutely agree…This ridiculous schedule is, indeed, a bill of goods…but it was never sold, it was deposited on us! There is no evidence that anything has improved AT ALL with this system. But SOMEONE certainly IS benefitting because despite all the complaints and concerns from the parents and even with the losses the tourism industry (infusion of tax dollars into the state)takes, our school officials blandly tighten their lips and turn their heads, as if they hear no sounds at all. A little case of heat stroke or two will be just a bump on the track for the year-round school train.

steve

August 4th, 2010
8:38 am

As someone said, 180 days are 180 days. The issue is more about the grading periods. If you wait till after labor day, you can’t finish the first semester before Christmas – or you will have to go to school until Dec. 24 or thereabout. As someone also pointed out. Even if you start on Jan. 2, you may not be able to fit in 90 days before memorial day, either.

In general, I am in favor of a longer school year. I just don’t see why each term has to be the same length – except for those HS that use block schedules. Moreover, we can have 3 terms – of different length. I would start around labor day, have a 10 day off around Christmas/New Year, 2nd term goes until Spring Break, and the last term runs till mid- to end-of-June, or even till around July 10.

It’s sad that many people are concerned more about “wasting tax payer’s money” than kids education. If kids’ health/safety is a concern, why not put air condition on the buses? Make sure air condition in school buildings work. This is another indication of how GA people don’t really value education. However, it is not just GA. When I was living in MD (I think), a new school building can have either air conditioning OR windows. I don’t see how they can build a building for business with such a choice.

EnoughAlready

August 4th, 2010
8:52 am

The average child is on a school bus 45 minutes or less coming and going. If the windows are down, they will survive.

BAH!

August 4th, 2010
9:10 am

“it is too hot for kids to play ourside past 11:00 am or so”

Are you serious? THIS is one reason why kids are fat. Hydrate them, but get them out there playing. Besides, I have a pool – does my ability to provide outdoor activity after 11am mean my kid doesn’t have to go back to school so early?

Philosopher

August 4th, 2010
9:32 am

I suggest making the school board, superintendent and teachers ride the buses and walk a half mile home in the afternoon heat index of 106. Bet they’d be singing a different tune…

Allen

August 4th, 2010
9:44 am

Thank you “School Schedule” for cutting to the chase:
” the justification for what amounts to year round school was improved school performance…. so how has that worked out?”

Starting early has NOT helped school performance. It costs us more money than starting three or four weeks later.

What else do we need to know?

do the math

August 4th, 2010
9:54 am

@ School Schedule – high school students have a minimum amount of “seat time” in order to earn their Carnegie Units. Colleges are not restricted by this.

Stephen

August 4th, 2010
9:54 am

Well just returned from Texas where school will start August 23 and for the first time to make up for short falls in the school budget placing advertisements on the buses on certain parts of the bus will be a first for Texas schools.

Cathy

August 4th, 2010
9:55 am

Lets all face it. The Cobb County School Board DOES NOT CARE what the parents of all these children think. I believe it is now time for an ORGANIZED protest of the school boards practices and decisions. Suggestions from anyone on how to get it started? We need to be heard, not ignored!

GaDawgsGirl

August 4th, 2010
9:55 am

My kids will begin Monday…TOO EARLY to begin school. If everyone is so worried about heat stroke, these same people should make the decision to begin school after Labor Day…which is when the majority of us bloggers started when we were in school. I am sure Georgia Power is excited at the bills us taxpayers have to pay for the AC. ALL school buses should have AC…come on people, we are in the 21st century now………

KMHSmom

August 4th, 2010
9:57 am

Once the HOPE gets cut, all our HS kids will need a full summer to earn $$ for college. No kid can earn $$ on these stupid one-week breaks (except maybe babysitting the other kids that are out of school).

Kathy

August 4th, 2010
9:57 am

Thank God my kids only ride in the morning… this is the only time I am happy about paying for AfterSchool!

catlady

August 4th, 2010
9:58 am

Ms.Downey, re your 8:12: Your number one is an excellent question. The answer: No one can apparently “out lie” Atlanta! As to your number two–no matter how much time the “BRP” got with any of the answer sheets, children taking the test, or even the flies on the wall, they still would have proclaimed that they did not have access to what they “really needed.” That was going to be one of the justifications, no matter what! Totally predictable. On your number three, we have compared erasure patterns. We have many, many systems with heavily low income kids, but did not see this kind of erasures! My own system is 70%+ free lunch–no problems. You’ve got other, city systems that are poor that did not see this.

What I have seen, over nearly 4 decades of teaching, is that my sped kids are more likely to erase. They “finish” in minutes, then have to appear busy so they erase and remark for a while. Of course, they don’t tend to erase and mark the correct answer! As to whether the results fall in the normal range, well, no it didn’t. Not statistically in terms of “improvement”, not statistically in terms of normal erasures. That is the point.

I still hold that the erasures were not done by teachers in the classroom, UNLESS THE ADMINISTRATORS PURPOSEFULLY DEFIED THE STATE TESTING PROTOCOLS THAT MANDATED THAT TESTS BE RETURNED IMMEDIATELY. If so, that again shows collusion among the administrators. And every one up the chain of command from that teacher is liable for that irregularity, apparently unreported, which will get your license yanked.

Can teachers cheat? Sure. BUT, ABSENT THE COLLUSION NOTED ABOVE, NOT BY ERASURES!

On the actual topic: Our kids are not going back until the 18th–half a month later than usual. I think it is great. Of course, the $5000 I will lose in pay this year isn’t so great. It will still be too hot.

I grew up part of my life in a suburban area of Alabama. The neighboring counties followed an agricultural schedule. They went to school some in the summer but were out for a large part of the fall for cotton pickin’ and cotton choppin’.

Philospher at 9:32: teachers don’t like this any better than you do.

catlady

August 4th, 2010
10:01 am

Philosopher: Actually, LESS than you do. Do you know what it is like to be around 30 4th graders, none of whose parents have grasped that they are “growing up” and thus need to bathe and use deodorant daily, when they come in from recess or PE? It ain’t pleasant, let me tell you.

Ryan

August 4th, 2010
10:01 am

Another reason school systems start so early is to allow teachers to retire at a mid-point when winter break rolls around. It splits the schools system into 90 days before the break and 90 days after.

kj

August 4th, 2010
10:04 am

180 days of teaching is fine, but an August 5th start and May 27th end with SIX weeks off during the school year, not counting 1/2 days is ridiculous. 1 week at Thanksgiving, 2 1/2 at Christmas and New Year’s, a week in February and a week in April. Who plans this crap? Obviously more parents agree with this than don’t. Douglas county sends out proposed calendars for upcoming school years to parents, how many end up in the trash? 4 more years and I’ll be done with the school system here.

Dr NO

August 4th, 2010
10:05 am

I guess today kiddies are just little punks who cant take it or fat butterballs. We road the bus and it was plenty hot. All this pampering of your precious cargo is no good for them or their self-esteem.

Michael

August 4th, 2010
10:06 am

Why is there a summer break anyway? Tradition? In college you at least have the choice to work, play or even attend school during breaks. Maybe it’s a chance for teachers to get more training. But they usually just get part time jobs or vacation.

td

August 4th, 2010
10:07 am

School Schedule, very good comments. If I remember some of my educational development classes correctly, is it not true that most children do not reach the higher order of cognitive thinking until their teenage years? If this is true, why are we trying to teach analysis and reasoning in elementary school?