Parents Want a Fall School Start-Date
Radio Commentary, WMVV 90.7 New Life FM, March 12, 2010
By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Good morning, Jim. Five years ago the House Education Committee meeting over-flowed with parents trying to convince representatives to leave the three-month summer vacation alone and start school just before or soon after Labor Day. Those parents came armed with statistics from five different polls from across the state. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said 68.5 percent of those surveyed wanted school to start around Labor Day. The Fayette Citizen News said 67.4 percent agreed; Rome’s newspaper showed 65%; Clayton County’s was 65.4% and a BellSouth e-mail survey reported 65% wanted school to start in the fall.
A Chamblee middle school teacher, disturbed about his school’s August 4th start in 2004, wrote a letter to the editor. He got 30 responses – 25 of them agreed with him. Then, he reminded the committee that Georgia parents aren’t the only ones trying to regain control of schools. North Carolina and Virginia had already passed similar bills, while Texas and other states were thinking about doing the same thing. That teacher’s words had no effect on the committee vote nor did testimony from a Forsyth County man, who put his finger on the problem by saying,
“It appears that the education establishment has come to a national conclusion that school should be year round. They know that if they were to impose that all at once the people would revolt. Instead they have taken a course of gradually moving the calendar a few days here, a week here…. [indicating] that the Boards need oversight from the Legislature in this area.”
Since that meeting five years ago, the school start-date has continued to move toward year-round school, with most “fall” terms beginning earlier and earlier in the summer. But on February 8th Representative Matt Dollar introduced H.B. 1097 to fix the school-start date at no earlier than the third full week in August. Call House Education Committee chairman Coleman at 404 656-9210* and ask him to pass H.B. 1097 out of committee. After all, children still belong to parents, parents still pay for the schools, equipment, and curricula and they still pay the salaries of educators and administrators. So, parents that foot the bill should be able to control the date school starts. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.