Shorter Summers

Students in one Georgia county returned to school this past Friday. The last day of class for them was June 25th. Hope they enjoyed their summer — all five weeks of it.

Why bother starting on a Friday? Returning to school on a Monday or Tuesday makes for too long of a first week back. Wednesday I can understand, or even Thursday. Maybe I’m missing something, but starting on Friday is crazy.

Like them or not, the research on summer breaks is clear. The longer the break, the more kids forget. Summer learning loss negatively impacts success in school, college, and life — especially for students from low-income households. Shorter breaks are the obvious solution.

Smarter summers are another option. Keeping students engaged and actively learning over the summer also reduces summer learning loss. Sounds good, but so many kids today are already over-scheduled. I suspect many are glad to return to school just to get a break from their demanding parents.

I’m not big on regrets, but were I to get a do over, I’d sacrifice fewer of the summers of my youth to work. I got my first job at 14 and, by 16, worked three or four nights a week at one job and another thirty hours or more at another. The jobs changed, but I’ve done more or less the same thing ever since.

In the good old days, schools and public swimming pools operated on mutually exclusive schedules. Pools opened Memorial Day when kids got out of school and closed Labor Day when they went back. Research be damned. Anything else is just weird and wouldn’t be allowed if I ruled the world.

Have no fear. Ruling the world is way more responsibility than I’d ever want. I have enough as it is. In fact, were it not for all the responsibilities, being a grownup would be a lot more fun.