Back to School al­ready?!

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

Au­gust is here and you know what that means — it’s al­most time to head back to school.

This year, Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools stu­dents head back to class on Mon­day, Aug. 29.

I know, I know. You and I went back af­ter La­bor Day. But, de­spite the out­cry of par­ents, stu­dents and elected of­fi­cials — even the comptroller and gov­er­nor are on board — stu­dents will take their seats in less than a week.

The push to ban­ish “back to school” back to Septem­ber has been years in the mak­ing. Mary­land Comptroller Peter Fran­chot has long been a pro­po­nent of a later start to the school year, ar­gu­ing that adding a week to the sum­mer will boost taxes and rev­enues, al­low­ing for a stronger state econ­omy.

A 2013 re­port by the state Board of Rev­enue Es­ti­mates backs up this as­ser­tion, claim­ing that the ex­tra time off would add $74.3 mil­lion in new eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and $7.7 mil­lion in new tax rev­enue.

And then there is the “let kids be kids” ar­gu­ment. Many ar­gue that time off is so pre­cious, and in­creas­ingly rare, for chil­dren that are of­ten over­loaded and over­booked dur­ing the school year.

Older gen­er­a­tions look back with nos­tal­gia to their own child­hood sum­mers, spent run­ning, swim­ming and stay­ing out til the street­lights came on.

Cit­ing th­ese rea­sons and more, a pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing a later school start has gar­nered thou­sands of sig­na­tures.

Not that this has per­suaded the de­ci­sion mak­ers. The su­per­in­ten­dent of the state’s 24 school dis­tricts have all re­jected the idea of a post-La­bor Day start to school, cit­ing the 180-day man­dated school year. Given that re­quired length, op­po­nents say, the school year would be pushed into late June.

Op­po­nents have also cited con­cerns about the im­pact of a later start on teacher train­ing/ prepa­ra­tions and on stu­dent per­for­mance on stan­dard­ized tests, which are ad­min­is­tered on an al­ready-set timetable.

Right now, ev­ery school dis­trict (with the ex­cep­tion of Worch­ester County, home of Ocean City) starts be­fore La­bor Day.

That doesn’t seem likely to change in the short term. A bill that would have man­dated a post-La­bor Day start statewide died in com­mit­tee dur­ing this year’s Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion.

That won’t stop pro­po­nents from cru­sad­ing for a later start time, nor should it.

It is a com­plex is­sue that in­flames pas­sions on both sides of the de­bate. How­ever, as re­cently as the year 2000, sev­eral school dis­tricts across the state opened af­ter La­bor Day. In decades past, most opened in Septem­ber.

In an age when kids are over­booked, over­whelmed and of­ten forced to grow up faster than we might like, it seems like an ex­tra week of sum­mer­time fun is the least we can do.

This year, how­ever, kids will be go­ing back to school be­fore La­bor Day.

So, in the mean­time, take ad­van­tage of some sum­mer fun around town be­fore classes be­gin.

• En­joy some Doo Wop tunes by the Sen­sa­tions dur­ing Elk­ton’s Mu­sic on Main at 5:30 p.m. Thurs­day, Aug. 25, while also check­ing out a col­lec­tion of clas­sic cars.

• Take in an old-time base­ball game be­tween Ris­ing Sun’s and Elk­ton’s clubs at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, at Ter­rapin Sta­tion Win­ery, lo­cated at 80 Rick­etts Mill Road in Elk­ton.

• Spend a day on one of Ce­cil County’s many beaches en­joy­ing a sunny af­ter­noon on the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

A wide va­ri­ety of fun ac­tiv­i­ties for the whole fam­ily are de­tailed on the pages of this week’s pa­per — from church and li­brary events to recre­ational hap­pen­ings.

And re­mem­ber, the fun doesn’t have to end just be­cause sum­mer does.

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