I would like to pose a question to the citizens of Indiana as a parent, an educator and a person involved in community affairs: does Indiana need the “so-called” balanced school calendar?
I believe we do. I have been involved in education for four decades. I have observed and taught students at the middle school, secondary and post-secondary level and observed how students learn, retain, and, in far too many cases, forget knowledge.
To me, the question is really two-fold: does a balanced calendar make sense? Secondly, what impact does a balanced calendar have on your family? Regardless of the way one slices it, the state of Indiana requires a school corporation to build 180 days into the school calendar.
So, let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
We are not an agrarian society anymore. Yes, we in Hancock County do pride ourselves on our agricultural heritage, but most farms are now year-round ventures.
I talked to local educators, farmers, retail merchants, and community leaders, and educators tend to believe the balanced calendar is the way to go. The rest of the community really did not care. They simply wanted “our kids” to become educated, useful members of society.
I specifically asked a retail merchant whether going back to the older calendar based on harvest time would affect the hiring of students. His answer? No, he just wanted to be able to hire sharp, articulate people.
So what about the down side of the balanced calendar?
Some would argue that it disrupts the traditional summer vacation. Some would say, what about non-air-conditioned buildings? Some would say that maintenance to schools would present a problem. These are all valid arguments.
Kim Kile, director of school counseling at Greenfield-Central High School, said the balanced calendar represents a cultural shift from clinging to our agrarian roots to acknowledging modern culture.
To summarize: a “so-called” balanced calendar simply takes the 180 days, required by Indiana State law, and reshuffles them. Do all Indiana school corporations need a balanced calendar? No. Should the State of Indiana mandate that all school corporations go on the same schedule? No.
I like the retention of knowledge by the students. Most school buildings now have air-conditioning. In most balanced calendars, students usually are on a nine-week rotation, rather than eighteen-week semesters. There are usually two- or three-week intercessions between the nine weeks. These can either be used for family vacations, or remedial work for the students.
So, as you can see, this is one educator that is definitely in favor of a balanced calendar.