Rockdale students to board: Restore our winter break

Rockdale's decision to cancel its February break to make up for snow days has upset students, teachers and parents. But is there another viable choice?

Rockdale's decision to cancel its February break to make up for snow days has upset students, teachers and parents. But is there another viable choice?

Rockdale County students have started a petition to restore their winter break, which the school board eliminated Thursday in a 5-2 vote. The board voted to use the week to make up the January snow days. The timing of the vote — only three weeks before the break was scheduled — has upset families who have plane tickers and plans.

“I have personally started a petition with a few of my classmates to regain our Winter Break. We are near 300 signatures in approximately 24 hours, however it is urgent we receive many more. The majority of students, parents and RCPS employees feel the decision was unjust and unnecessary,” said Rockdale 10th grader Mark Meyers in an e-mail to the AJC.

Not sure what the petition will do if the system has to make up the days. It doesn’t seem educationally sound to put the days at the end of the year, as time tacked onto late May would not render much teaching or learning.

The Rockdale schools web site states: The Board of Education has approved February 14th -18th as make-up days for the five snow days taken due to the massive winter storm. In addition, they have modified the calendar for President’s Day, February 21st, to be a student and staff holiday. The school system will work with students and staff who have a hardship with this change, such as paid and non-refundable vacation plans. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as this difficult decision was made considering the instructional needs of all of our students while not penalizing those with a hardship due to this change. Again, students will be in school Monday through Friday, February 14th through the 18th and Monday, February 21st will be a student and staff holiday.

According to the Rockdale Citizen newspaper, the vote has frustrated many  in the community, including church youth groups that had trips planned for that week:

Several area churches have planned youth retreats and ski trips over the break, and the rescheduling of the missed time has put stress on students wanting to take the trips and youth pastors losing money and chaperones.

“We’ve always tried to work very closely with the school system; we are constantly working around school calendars,” said Mark Walker, a youth pastor at Rockdale Baptist Church, who said the church could lose between $1,250 and $2,000 if they canceled their trip. “Summers have gotten shorter since you went to a balanced calendar, and we can’t always get everything in over the summer. We desperately need this.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

143 comments Add your comment

Mift

January 24th, 2011
11:45 am

Henry is in the same circumstance. The repeal of the winter break at this point in the calendar year, so close to the actual break, causes many teachers, students and parents to make a decision. The decision is to miss school and continue their plans or to loose lots of money on travel plans that can not be renegotiated.

another comment

January 24th, 2011
11:53 am

It is not right that Students and their families suffer do to the poor planning of politicians. Politicians who lack the political balls to do the right thing and raise taxes to properly fund the DOD to have proper equipment and staff to clear the roads. Look at how much money is lost by closing the the entire metro area for a week, due to the poor leadership. Even if school is held their should be massive sick outs.

Dr NO

January 24th, 2011
12:05 pm

“raise taxes to properly fund the DOD to…”

We can all appreciate your stance and please feel free to send the “DOD” a little extra. Im sure they would have no problem cashing your personal check so give till it hurts, sonny.

Inman Park Boy

January 24th, 2011
12:10 pm

So, we are to value trips to Disney World and Church sponsored activities ahead of school? And we wonder why Georgia remains at the bottom of every list of educational achievement. Totally misplaced values.

HS Public Teacher

January 24th, 2011
12:12 pm

What bothers me the most is….. why are we listening to kids?

Remember when the saying was, “children should be seen and not heard”? There was a reason for this. Children cannot draw upon experience or knowledge to form any informed or valuable opinion. Why does anyone even bother to ask them?

Even in biology, we learn that the human brain isn’t fully developed until the age of early 20s. Do we really expect a 10 year old, for example, to rationally come up with any valuable opinion?

Regarding teachers – they will tell you that the teachers that “gave” them As are the “best” teachers. They will tell you that the classes that played “games” were the “best” classes. And, so on.

I mean, seriously…..

Adults, and more importantly the adults that are EXPERTS IN THE FIELD, should be the ones discussing these issues – not children.

jwr

January 24th, 2011
12:21 pm

Dr NO: first, it’s “due to the poor planning”; next, it’s the DOE (Education), not DOD (Defense); third, it’s “there should be”. It is very difficult to take one seriously when one fails to proofread one’s rant prior to clicking “submit comment”.

Dr NO

January 24th, 2011
12:45 pm

jw…ya DOD, LMAO!!

No name used

January 24th, 2011
12:49 pm

The schools should have given them a minimum of 30 days notice so that parents could try to get refunds on money already spent. Yes, Inman Park Boy, family and church time is important as well. The parents made plans based on a calendar that was published last year, and should not be monetarily punished because the school board is hyperventilating over make up days.

I feel that if missing a week of school is going to make that big of a difference in whether a child passes or fails, then that child was most likely going to fail anyway. But, then again, I don’t believe that 70% should warrant a passing grade. It does not in the business world. Good grief people-they are kids one time, and personally, I like having time with my kids.

Avahzd

January 24th, 2011
12:49 pm

HAHA jwr you funny you make me laugh long time. See again Dr NO’s post and note he was quoting Another Comment.

Why Me?

January 24th, 2011
12:54 pm

Do kids even want to go to school anymore? No wonder America is so far behind other countries in education! I live in Henry and when I heard the winter break would be used as make up day I did not have a problem with it. My chld’s education is much more important than a vacation! Wake up America! Parents send their children the non-verbal message that other things are more important than school.

Why Me?

January 24th, 2011
12:58 pm

Lets get word out to mother nature that parents are upset because of the recent snow days. Perhaps she will schedule bad weather better next year as not to disrupt vacations.

decaturparent

January 24th, 2011
1:00 pm

Oh please, cry me a river… I have plans too and if our district schedules school that week, I’ll be happy to cancel them (and lose some money) b/c EDUCATION is more important than a vacation or trip.

Tacking this stuff on in May or June will totally screw up high school kids with EOCTs and AP tests. Come on folks, try to think of people other than your petty selves.

Dr NO

January 24th, 2011
1:07 pm

I hope Rockdale can locate this rebellious little upstart with his petition and expel him. Its rabble rousers, disrupters and intruders that spoil things for everyone else.

KMHSmom

January 24th, 2011
1:09 pm

Enter your comments here

KMHSmom

January 24th, 2011
1:11 pm

Amen to decaturparent. I WISH Cobb County was using the February break. They are only making up one day. I have a lot more riding on good AP scores for my kid than a lost deposit on a vacation trip.

An American Patriot

January 24th, 2011
1:14 pm

Well, this sounds like a good time to teach these kids (and I must emphasize “Kids) a “Life Lesson”. There are things in life that aren’t fair, but, then again, you, as a kid, have no rights……so get over it :)

God Bless the Teacher!

January 24th, 2011
1:27 pm

Easy fix for future reference…change the school year to run from Mid-February until Mid-December, taking Mid-December through Mid-February off. Breaks after each 6-weeks would fall closer to holidays, less of a chance for snow days, and the calendar could be worked with more breaks in off-season times for better travel rates. Many folks say it costs more to cool the schools, but seems to me it costs just as much to heat them. Not to mention, many homes under the new calendar would be empty in the heat of the day because children would be in school.

CobbParent

January 24th, 2011
2:03 pm

“The parents made plans based on a calendar that was published last year, and should not be monetarily punished because the school board is hyperventilating over make up days. * * * But, then again, I don’t believe that 70% should warrant a passing grade. * * * Good grief people-they are kids one time, and personally, I like having time with my kids.”

You can always homeschool them. Then you can spend all of your waking hours with them AND be able to set your own standards for pass/fail AND not be held to the county calendar or have inclement weather disrupt their education or vacation plans. Win-win for you. :)

Ole Guy

January 24th, 2011
2:19 pm

JWR, lighten up on the guy, for cryin outloud. It’s organizational piss ants, like you, who become so involved in the (relatively) unimportant, while completely discounting the true intent, who gum up the road to progress. I would not be at all surprised if this very mindset…a focus on “poo poo stuff”, and a complete derailing of the main issue…exists within our state/federal legislative bodies.

At the same time, JW, one’s comments can easily come under question when it would appear that not much thought, beyond a rant, supported the comment. It’s simply a matter of trying to maintain an open mind on the issue rather than the delivery.

ONWARD TO THE ISSUE:

While we thrash about with these suggestions, the woulda/coulda/shouldas, etc, ad nauseum, the reality is that time cannot be created. The day is still 24 hours; the year is still…well, you get the idea.

Patriot has expressed the most valuable truism in life…Don’t expect fair. If it happens, you’re money ahead; enjoy it while you can. Rather than piss n’ moan over the past, just get off your sixes, “clear the snow (mentally)”, as it were, and move on.

As you venture through life, kids, your “powers that be”…college instructors, bosses, supervisors, managers, etc…don’t give a damn whether you had enough time to get the task done. THEY WANT RESULTS! YOUR task is to get educated. DON’T allow all this squabling, over issues which cannot be changed (you simply cannot create time), impede your task. Life ain’t fair.

Parents/kids…life’s full of choices. You’ve got irrefundable tickets to vacation land…make a decision. You were planning a trip “over the meadow and through the woods to grandmother’s house” (childhood song)…make a decision. You’ve got to decide what’s more important; NEVER expect the world to alter its rotation on the axis or its revolving around the sun. Do what ya gotta do; when you get back, the world will still be there.

Helena

January 24th, 2011
2:27 pm

I really do wonder how many of these parents and students up-in-arms about losing the February break are the same ones who were furious about the Balanced Calendar last August.

Lori

January 24th, 2011
2:43 pm

I can sympathize. I’m in Henry as well, but my son attends private school so we aren’t actually missing the break. The real issue is that there weren’t enough days in the school calendar to begin with. They are required 176, but only had 177 total days. They should have had more days built in to account for closures, like in the past. Stupid budget cuts are messing with everyone. I certainly wouldn’t value a vacation above education, but I’d just have to let my kids miss a few days if I had a non-refundable vacation planned. Last year we went on a cruise that week. If we had to cancel, we’d have been out thousands. I’d rather spend a few weekends helping my child with make up work, then loosing thousands of dollars on a vacation that was bought and paid for months in advance!! I’m sure many parents feel the same.

Lynn43

January 24th, 2011
2:51 pm

Had these two systems already eliminated days from their calendars? Why are they trying to make up so many days or did they miss many more than we did?

Jake

January 24th, 2011
3:57 pm

What? When did the little inmates start running the asylum? They remind me of the mindless adults that get extra in their paycheck because of a computer error and think they should be allowed to keep it. Shut up and go to school!

Dr. John Trotter

January 24th, 2011
4:00 pm

Off the top…Maureen, Is there any chance that the SACS article will be online?

Ashley

January 24th, 2011
4:09 pm

So kids get Thanksgiving and Christmas break, they go back to school in January then they get a winter break in Febuary and a spring-break in April , so when do the kids have time to learn anything, and why might I ask is all this necessary. Most of the parents who are posting sound like a bunch of spoil brats, complaining because your kids have to make up missed school days. Sometimes things happen and are unavoidable. You’re suppose to be an adult., so deal with it.

Douglas Co. teacher

January 24th, 2011
4:53 pm

The thing I don’t get is why people bothered to make big, non-refundable plans on those days at all. It says on the bottom of every calendar we publish “The days marked with an asterisk (*) will be used as makeup days if necessary.” Or something like that. Guess which days were marked? That’s right, the Feb. break!!! People have known since August or earlier that those days may or may not be available.

In Douglas, we are making up only 1 of the 5 we missed, and we are doing it on April 1st, a Friday, right before Spring Break. It was supposed to be one of our furlough days. They cancelled 4 days in accordance with the law (we had 180).

I think we should have made up all 5 days on that week off. Logic says you miss 5, you make up 5, regardless of whether the state allows you to cancel any or not. Why not cancel days later if necessary?

Just 4 less days to get all that EOCT/GHSGT prep in, not to mention, teach my actual course. Grrrrrrrr…….

dcss failing

January 24th, 2011
5:09 pm

@jwr – I think “another comment” meant DOT (Department of Transportation), not DOE (Department of Education), as he was talking about funding for equipment to clear roads. You are making fun of that poster and you made a mistake yourself. LOL.

Ashley

January 24th, 2011
5:14 pm

@Jake your no bulls**t repoire is refreshing love the “shut-up and go to school” comment

Concerned

January 24th, 2011
5:15 pm

Latest word today is the Dekalb County BOE will be meeting January 27th in a called meeting to vote on having school on February 18 and 21 to make-up two missed days out of the five.

Just means as a teacher I will be reviewing previously covered material with about half of the class as there is no way I am going to be covering new material that day. It would be pointless to do so, as half of the class will need to be re-taught that material when they return.

** I should add, I actually teach in my cass, not just give assignments. If I just gave out worksheets than I guess it wouldn’t be a problem if the attendance was low or high.

HB

January 24th, 2011
5:22 pm

Good for this kid! I don’t care if he’s right or wrong about the best way to make up days, or if the Board ends up changing the schedule as a result of his efforts. He has an opinion, is forming a coherent argument, and soliciting support so he can take his grievance to the Board. That is to be commended, and I hope he will continue to actively participate in civic affairs as he gets older.

WE lost our way

January 24th, 2011
5:33 pm

Do the make up days on Saturday’s. The Univ.of Georgia is using Saturday’s as make up days.Most parents are home and the buses still can be used.Wait I know the answer—Teachers,Administrators,bus drivers will have to work weekends.Oh well back to the protest!

JUNIOR

January 24th, 2011
5:47 pm

Everyone who wonders why the students are basically flipping out about the Winter Break being taken away, well this is why. I am a Junior in high school, and I can honestly say that I am really peeved off about the break being taken away. It is not only unfair to the students, it is also unfair to the parents and all of the school staff. The “snow break” that we received last week was no ones fault but mother nature’s. Students, parents, and staff, should not be punished for something NO ONE had control over. Their are a few early release and teacher workdays coming up that can be used. If their are still days that need to be made up, which there shouldn’t be any more that 2 at the most after filling in those half days and such, then you should take those REMAINING days away from everyone’s break. This issue not only makes people in Rockdale county suffer, but surrounding counties such at Newton and Jasper too. SO many families, school, and churches have already planned nonrefundable trips. YES, in Rockdale, those days missed will be marked excuse if proof is shown, but ALL work will have to be made up. Think about those in Magnet, AP, and other such classes. How is that fair? 1 day of AP and Magnet work is equivalent to a weeks work in regular classes. None of this is fair, and should be looked at again, by the students point of view.

Concerned

January 24th, 2011
5:57 pm

@HB I couldn’t agree more. Glad these students have an opinion, a voice, and are using it. Shame on anyone that deters these students, humans, from voicing their opinion in this democracy. On a side note, I do hope they were organized, rational, and well-written in their protest.

Mark Meyers

January 24th, 2011
6:00 pm

I very much appreciate all of the support that I have received, but what bothers me, are the people that think it is as simple as “Just go to school”. I attend a Magnet school, were there is a higher curriculum, making up a week can take a month of extra work. I have no intention of missing any of the school days. I made the petition, because the BOE made a choice. They said that they understand the problems that staff and students may have had preexisting plans and that they can continue to with them. So basically, in my classes where there will not be a teacher, I will be getting worksheets and busy work, not actually learning. Also, it gives students the opportunity to skip school by saying that they had a vacation planned. They will have to do make up work, but thats all it will be, make up WORK, not actual instructional time in front of a teacher. This is why I feel that the decision needs to be rethought. Also, I see that there are many comments concerning my age. I am young, I am a teenager. However, the one thing that it also effects, is teachers. I know of one teacher who had her $2000 honey moon planned on the weekend, and I guess that while it may just be a “Life Lesson” for some of you, for the people it is actually effecting, it is an decision that is unfair, when it does not have to be.

Maureen Downey

January 24th, 2011
6:01 pm

@DR. T, I just sent the reporter a note about that story. Not sure why it hasn’t made an online appearance yet.
Maureen

Dr. John Trotter

January 24th, 2011
6:05 pm

Maureen, thankls!

Maureen Downey

January 24th, 2011
6:08 pm

@Mark, I have great admiration for a student who organizes a petition drive. Your parents should be delighted to have a child who shows so much initiative, and you ought to be proud that you did something besides stand around and lament. It takes guts to take a stand.
Good luck in your effort.
Maureen

Andrew

January 24th, 2011
6:12 pm

@HS Public Teacher

How can you even say that? You’re talking about our world’s FUTURE LEADERS and you’re saying that we don’t have enough brain power to draw clear and valid arguments against voted decisions that affect us personally. Personally, I do have the time to go to school, but others have planned and NOT refundable trips that they have been planning to go on LONG before the bad weather. Therefore, I think that even planning to go to school these days will do little to no effect to students because a lot of them will be gone! That will just make teachers have to either: a. go over what the students learned that week again, b. not learn anything new durning that week, or c. make the kids who were gone catch up. Either way, students are getting nowhere, or being hurt through the lack learning face-to-face with their teachers and getting the help they need! Reteaching lessons that are learned over the break will only slow us down, and making the students who were gone catch up is going to be just as bad as letting us have that whole week off. Also, students were told that all absences will be counted as excused, so what is motivating them to even go to school? And even if they do go to school, what is motivating them to learn? Good grades? No, because the teachers are going to have to go over the lesson again later. Taking away early-release days and/or teacher work days will not only catch the students back up to speed, but will catch ALL of the students back up to speed.

‘HS Public Teacher’, I really hope you’ve taken the time to read all of this and valued my opinion as a student, but chances are, you haven’t. I’m really sorry you have no hope in this world’s future leaders, which is making me wonder if anyone does. If you’re no different from the rest, then how are kids supposed to know how to deal with these types of situations. Guiding them through with reasoning will; brute-forcing us to do whatever you say no matter what is just teaching us that we can do the very same when we are older, which will lead to greed and self-destruction. I know I turned a little thing into a big one, but someone had to speak up.

ScienceTeacher671

January 24th, 2011
6:17 pm

@JUNIOR, why is it unfair that the school board does not want to deprive you of the education that the Georgia Constitution says that you should have?

And what about the magnet, AP, and other such classes? By your calculation, they’ve already missed a month of school, if one day is equivalent to a week’s work in other classes. Is it really fair to expect them to pass AP exams without some makeup time, when they have already missed so much class?

anon

January 24th, 2011
6:22 pm

I wanted to add that the petition url is petitiononline.com/break20 for the people who would like to sign it. It is up to 311.

JUNIOR

January 24th, 2011
6:26 pm

@Scienceteacher671,

It is extremely unfair because students are given only so many breaks, and only so much time to have to themselves during the year. The school year seems to grow larger, while the breaks and summer seem to shrink. That is why so many students are upset. When there is NO school due to breaks, summer, etc, where everyone is out at the same time, no one gets behind. If the BOE used our half days and teacher work days as makeup days, we would be going to school the same amount of days. I am in AP, and we are NOT behind. Actually, we are right on track for the AP exams in a few months. It’s not that we don’t want our education,because the majority of us students really do, it is the fact that we want our HARD EARNED break so we can cool off from all the stress. YES, I understand that we could have done that over the “snow break”, but, we weren’t able to do anything because we were snowed in. What kind of break is that?

Mark Meyers

January 24th, 2011
6:26 pm

Thank you very much Maureen.

Cobb Teacher 2

January 24th, 2011
6:29 pm

While I obviously believe education should be the first priority in our children’s lives, many need to be reminded that the February break came to be because many school districts moved their start dates to the first week in August. That means we are starting school while many schools around the country still have a month left of summer vacation. I was in favor of this calendar, but not if school boards are going to view the break as time to make up snow days. Vacations have been planned and that needs to be honored. Using this break to make up weather days is as ludicrous as asking everyone to come in to school in July.

Andrew

January 24th, 2011
6:30 pm

Wow… after reading all these things about education is more important than vacations, I’m thinking to myself: Does everyone not care for those who can barely afford these things to start with?
I mean, sure, I agree with that statement, but there are OTHER places we can put these make-up days.
Again, a lot of students are not going to be at school that week because either their going on their vacation, or skipping school because there will be no punishment. So how will these make-up days help us at ALL?

CR8833

January 24th, 2011
6:50 pm

I too am a magnet student at Mark’s school. The issue we
(the students) have is we were not notified or informed of this vote to give our opinions to the BOE. We have no problem making up the days as long as us and our parents opinions are asked beforehand. To the ones who say we have no brain power or our brains are not developed we have over 20 AP credits before we graduate high school. Maureen, Thank you!

Teacher-Mom in Cobb

January 24th, 2011
6:57 pm

@Andrew has a great point… absentee rates during make up time will be sky high. I can honestly say that while losing five days is cutting things close, there are definitely things I can eliminate from my teaching schedule and still feel confident that I am giving my students what they need for the CRCT and beyond.

Viktoriya Petrenko

January 24th, 2011
7:08 pm

It shocks me that some do not think students have a right to say what they feel. Are children not the future?
Anyways, I think it was a rather awful decision due to how many students will be out of school because they have had school/church trips (not to mention the NONREFUNDABLE cruises) and many of them WILL BE gone the entire week (some students in my grade are going on a week long DC trip). The students will just miss a week of instruction white substitutes will just fill in for chaperoning teachers. How is this better then other options?

Cobb Teacher 2

January 24th, 2011
7:09 pm

Mark Meyers and Andrew,

I am so glad to see students taking action and defending their opinions. You won’t always win, but you should stand up for what you think is right. I am a very dedicated teacher and I am supporting your position. Calendars are created so that families can make plans. These counties opted for a shorter summer in favor of a balanced calendar. For that reason, they need to honor the calendar that was published months ago or go back to a traditional start date of after Labor Day.

What this really shows is a lack of creative planning on the part of the board. There are many solutions to this scheduling conflict, including extending the school day for a period of time (Marietta City is doing this) and using teacher work/fulough days (Cobb and other counties are doing this). Personally, I think exending the school day is a great solution. This ends up saving the county money on gas costs and would be a good use of instructional time. Simply believing that we can replace a week in January with a weeklong scheduled break is very short-sighted.

Sarah

January 24th, 2011
7:13 pm

I’m a friend of Mark’s, and I signed this petition. While I do not attend the Magnet School for Science and Technology(I’m a language arts type of kid), I am an honors student who still does plenty of work. Many of my friends and acquaintances have already paid to go on vacation, so our classes will be extremely small. Also, our chorus is going on a trip that week. Some kids will likely skip, while others won’t pay any attention. Our teachers are also angry about this decision, so they probably won’t be as into what they’re teaching. Not only that, but it will likely fall on the shoulders of the kids who were in school to get notes for the students who were out, as it often does. As Mark pointed out, we aren’t asking for the days to be cancelled, rather, we wish for them to be rescheduled at a time more convenient to students, parents, and teachers.

So before you call us a bunch of punks who need to be expelled, take a look at our argument. Thank you.

Ole Guy

January 24th, 2011
7:15 pm

Junior, if you expect NOTHING in life to be fair, you will be thrilled when things, somehow, SEEM fair. FAIR is NOT a part of life’s DNA…only an accident of circumstance. The sooner you understand that, young scholar, the happier you will be.

PASS IT ON!