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Warning. School calendar. Bureaucrats in charge.

September 7, 2010

For many teachers and students in urban school districts this is the first day back. They join millions of other students and teachers who have been in classrooms for two weeks or more.

There are few things as goofy as the school calendar.

This year Chicago’s public schools began a program of  so-called (Same number of days, just reconfigured) year-round schools. It has been brutal for working parents trying to coordinate childcare in a world of summers off.  And brutal for teachers and students who were sitting in hundred year old school buildings with no AC in early August when the temperature was pushing three digits.

Here in the Chicago suburbs we began school with a teacher-only day on a Friday. It’s credit to our staff that attendance was normal. But there was plenty of grumbling, even with the knowledge that the Friday start would mean an extra Monday of winter break in January.

But nothing beats the story out of New York where school begins today and then students don’t come back again until next week.

Arthur Goldstein, an English as a Second Language teacher at Francis Lewis HS in Fresh Meadows, Queens, said, “I’ll spend the first day getting to know the kids, making seating arrangements, getting kids prepared for the new year. And then the following Monday I’ll have to do the whole thing again. It’s not a productive use of time.”

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