Back to School already?!
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.