Saturday, April 11, 2009

A surprising first day of school

You might not realize it but our new school year does not begin August 17; it starts April 22 at 8:15 am. “Huh? That’s impossible”, you say. “I have seen the district calendar and school begins on August 17.” Yes and no. We do begin the official 2009-2010 school year on August 17 but our instructional year starts April 22, the day after testing. This is one of the unforeseen consequences of No Child Left Behind: the start of the instructional year has shifted from fall to spring. We no longer have the luxury of having a relaxing April and May easing on into a three-month summer vacation. Then when we return in August we take three weeks to review and then begin teaching new material after Labor Day. No my friends, those days are long gone replaced by the hard reality that our school is measured by how well our kids score on standardized tests. And to perform well on these tests, we have to use every available minute to help our students master the content standards spelled out by the NM PED. Do I miss the halcyon days of my youth when the warm days of spring were a time to coast into summer? I suppose that Norman Rockwell place in my memory is nostalgic for it but that Vince Lombardi place in my gut tells me that for our kids to compete, we had better not waste the moments we have to teach and learn. With that in mind, I encourage you to challenge your child to be proud of his or her efforts on the SBA and to represent Taylor well because the new school year starts sooner than you thought.

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