Originally created 08/21/05

Parents, kids want their summer back



I am writing to express my extreme dissatisfaction with the early start date of Columbia County schools.

First, there is no evidence that starting school earlier has any impact on learning. In fact, a comprehensive study out of the University of California, Riverside, found children on a schedule most like the traditional school year outperformed children forced to begin school in early or mid-summer. Recently in California, in a lawsuit over education inequities, experts testified that summer heat affects the ability of children to concentrate and learn.

Also, last year, Dallas schools discovered no test-score advantages when it compared the performance of pupils who started at least two weeks before those on a traditional calendar. Similar research in Broward County, Fla., pointed to the same conclusion.

Furthermore, starting school so early creates hardships for divorced parents with summer visitation arrangements; for teachers who take summer classes to meet certification requirements; for military families transferring to Fort Gordon; and for Georgia tourism.

The Georgia Department of Transportation recently warned that adding thousands of school buses to the roadway in the hottest month of the year "adds to the emissions, causing ground-level ozone and air-quality indexes that pose serious health hazards." This affects all of us.

High 90-degree temperatures also present dangers for children on playgrounds, for marching bands and particularly for athletes. For proof, look no further than recent headlines on heat-related deaths of college and professional football players.

Money being spent on additional costs for air-conditioning schools and school buses because of the early school start would be better spent on teacher training, smaller classes, tutors, pullout classes and new curricula.

Superintendent Tommy Price, are you listening? Give us back our summers. Please.

Stephanie Wilson, Evans