School-Start Date: Educators Win, Parents Lose
Radio Commentary, WMVV 90.7 New Life FM, June 18, 2010
By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Good morning, Jim. The battle over the school-start date peaked in 2005, when polls reported overwhelming popularity for H.B. 285, requiring school to start “not earlier than the last Monday in August and not later than the Wednesday after Labor Day.” Every poll showed a 65% to 68.5% support for the bill. In 2004, DeKalb district schools began August 9th. When a Chamblee middle school teacher wrote a letter to the AJC opposing early school starts, he had 30 responses. 25 agreed with him and, at that time, two states – North Carolina and Virginia – had passed similar bills, while others were considering doing the same.
At that 2005 House Education Committee hearing a parent said, “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…. [So,] the Boards need oversight from the Legislature in this area.” Everyone listened, but the House Education Committee rejected the parents’ request and defeated H.B. 285 before the meeting ended.
This year a similar bill, H.B. 1097, was introduced, but quietly whimpered and died. It was a good bill that required school to start no earlier than the third full week in August. In addition, it acknowledged tax-payer authority over schools, would have reduced air conditioning bills, lessened heat strokes of practicing athletes, allowed students to have summer jobs and pleased parents. But, this year, the committee totally ignored the subject. The bill didn’t have a hearing, disregarded parents’ rights to control their children’s education, and left the school-start date to the will of educators who want year-round full-time employment, regardless of parental wishes.
Educators and legislators should remember these facts. Children belong to their parents; parents pay the taxes and taxes pay teacher salaries. That means educators work for parents, though they don’t seem to know it. Let me remind educators, as well as legislators. It’s not government that pays teachers. Taxpayers pay teachers and the students in their classes aren’t government property. They belong to the parents! For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.