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Editorial: Turn back the calendar

Five years after the Legislature revised the school calendar, here we are again, debating changes to the school calendar.
In 2004, we opposed the decision to force local school districts to start the 178-day school year in late August (no sooner than Aug. 25). At that time, the main goals appeared to be economic, rather than educational. While some parents favored the bill, the strongest push came from tourist interests that believed the calendar change would be good for business by extending the vacation season later into the summer for families with children in school.
We don’t know whether it has helped tourism, but it has had some adverse effects on students, especially in forcing schools to administer exams after the two-week (or longer) Christmas break. It also creates disjointed scheduling for high-school students who take college-level courses, since community colleges start fall classes by mid-August. The North Carolina Association of Educators initially supported the calendar change, but after living with the results, the association now supports a revision that would let school districts resume classes as early as the second Monday in August (effective with the 2010-11 term).
In arguing against the 2004 bill, we said the measure had the wrong motives and the wrong consequences, and it was preferable to let local districts set their summer vacation schedules. Five years later, we believe that’s still the case. Let’s turn back the calendar on this change and give school districts the flexibility to decide what works best for them.

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