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And another thing: Quit Stealing Summer!

photo by Geoff Chen


And another thing: Quit Stealing Summer!

This column is as much a rant as it is a column.

Today I want to talk about the school schedule in Indiana.  Nearly every parent I talk to and certainly every kid is apoplectic about the way we have engaged in an arms race to see what school district can further invade the summer with the earliest possible start date.  I swear there must be a competition when the superintendents association meets for them to see who can get away with the earliest possible date.  Well it sucks. It is almost as bad as multi class basketball (don’t get me started).

What the hell happened to summer?  We have friends on both coasts.  They don’t start school this freaking early.  All this talk about the liberal elites leading this country to ruin miss a pretty significant fact.  They have not screwed with the school start dates!  At least my comrades on the left coasts haven’t ruined summer like good old conservative Indiana.

I will concede there is some research out there that says the longer break the harder the adjustment is for kids when they return.  That makes sense, but is it worth the tradeoff?

All learning does not come in the classroom. And if there are vulnerable kids, well, that is why we have summer school.  But for the vast majority of kids it is just a ridiculous slog to extend the school year and have more breaks during the year.  A fall break?  A week at thanksgiving.  That is a pain in the keister for most parents who don’t have lots of dough to go on some fancy  vacation during those weeks.  They have to arrange day care or spend time at work worrying if their child is ok sitting at home wasting the day on Snapchat or YouTube.

There is considerable research out there that points to a negative economic impact as well.  The weather in August is consistently warmer than June.  More air conditioning costs add up.  Also the tourist industry has been trying to change this arms race for almost a decade at the General Assembly, why?  Because it hurts their bottom line as well.  The state fair suffers.  Kids suffer.  August is the best month to actually travel if you are planning a summer  vacation, why?  Well because then you have June and July to look forward to your summer trip.  Now you have to make sure to fit it in in a much smaller window. And then, poof, its back to the grind.

And another thing.  Apparently scientific research has shown that adolescents’ biological clocks do better if they start later in the day.  Put another way , if they get to “sleep in” their brains function better later in the day and into the night.  So what do we do as a response?  Well my kid is now not starting 7th grade until 9:20 am!  Now that is all well and good, but I still have to get to work as I imagine all the other parents out there have to do as well.  So here is a newsflash, the kids are still getting up at the same time, it’s just a bigger hassle and a bigger worry for parents and is not helping the students sleep patterns.   I am mystified that administrators didn’t factor that in when they decided to make the day start later.   Are they ok with an 11 year old kid getting themselves ready in the morning and heading out to the bus stop by themselves?  Because if they are sleeping in and the parents have left for work, that is what has to happen.  Now I know there are some folks with stay at home parents.  Well they are the lucky ones.  Most families are not that way any longer.

I am usually loathe to put myself in the category of wanting us to go back to the good ole’ days.  But school calendars and start times need to be taken back. Ok, also single class basketball needs taken back, but that is another column.

Give Hoosiers our  summer back!


Kip Tew is a partner at Ice Miller and the former head of the Indiana Democratic Party, the Marion County Party, and headed up the Obama campaign in Indiana in 2008. He is a regular talking head on WRTV-6’s Indy This Week. Other than politics, he also loves sports, particularly the Colts, Pacers, and Indiana Hoosiers football ( yes football) and basketball.

He is the author of the book Journey to Blue, How Barack Obama won Indiana in 2008

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