Students Already Back to School? You've Got To Be Kidding!

Hoosier Perspectives

Somehow year-round school crept into rural Indiana.

Published on: July 29, 2013

Call me old-fashioned. We started school around Labor Day and got out around Memorial Day. It was a tradition carried over from the days when kids needed to be home working on the farm. Actually, I did need to be home working on the farm, even before school was out. It's the only reason my dad bought me a car – a Ford so plain it didn't even have another name. It was just a "Ford."

By then other kids needed to be out in the summer to work at places like Burger Chef and McDonalds. A few still baled hay for farmers, but unless the farmer had a pretty daughter, most would rather be in a fast-food joint flipping hamburgers. At least most of them were air-conditioned.

HIT THE BOOKS: Students are already headed back to school, before the Indiana State Fair even starts!
HIT THE BOOKS: Students are already headed back to school, before the Indiana State Fair even starts!

My grandparents grew up when the school year was even shorter, because they were expected to help in the field in spring and fall. How did we get from there all the way to here, where some rural districts are starting school this week, and more will start next week. Heck, the state fair hasn't even started!

When I was on the school board many years ago and attended school board meetings regularly, a report on year-round school was one of those mandatory reports that had to happen once a year. It usually took 15 minutes, and the answer was always "not at this time." Nobody ever gave it serious thought.

Yet here we are – another tradition of rural America down the tubes. Some schools will let kids out to show at the state fair, others count it against them as days of absence. Get too many and your parents get a letter, or maybe even a call from some government busy-body wondering why their kids miss so much school.

How did we get there? Because rural people didn't speak up. Because rural people don't hold as many positions of leadership in schools as they once did. And because rural people are simply outnumbered.

Does the year-round schedule with long breaks in fall and spring make any sense? It doesn't to me. Who wants a whole week or two weeks in October to do nothing? Talk about shutting down the brain!

One thing about trends that creep up on you and don't make any sense – they are usually slow to disappear. Even if it's a fad, it usually takes years for the people who pushed the idea to realize it has more bad points than good points.

Speak up rural America! Where is that state representative that just a few years ago wanted to make it a law that schools couldn't start until after Labor Day to help tourism in the state? Apparently he was in the minority.

To me this is just another example of people jumping on a bandwagon when they don't even know where the bandwagon is going. Let's hope this one circles back and ends up on Common Sense street, and summer vacation becomes summer vacation again!