Join S.U.S.

Upcoming 2019-20 Meetings

Sept. 17
Oct. 22
Nov 26
Jan 21
Feb 18
March 17
April 21
May 12

Regular meetings held at The Hickcok Meeting Room, Summit Public Library, 9:15 a.m.

Bad Medicine and Frappuccinos. Final.

Instead of keep reviewing the concerns about the proposed calendar, like sports and the NJEA convention, I would like to make my position clear:

I don’t like the idea of starting before Labor Day either.

But even if I don’t like that idea, it doesn’t seem so unreasonable to consider building in more snow days, given the kind of weather we have experienced and the late school has ended in the last couple of years. It might be bad medicine but:

More than questioning Why we need to do this change, I think the question is How can we make this change better?

There are many factors to consider: convenience and tradition, temperature in the classrooms, possible benefits for AP students, the impact to the budget (if any), sports practices, etc.

As I said in the beginning: If this change is welcome or not, varies mainly because its impact is different for different families, its pros and cons are not defined equally across the district, and what is more, it will not only affect students but also teachers and staff alike.

I will not try to talk to you in favor of or against the proposed changes, everybody should make their own decision… what I’m really aiming is for all of us to make an informed decision, when it comes to the quality of education we are providing our kids, I’m 100% in favor of deliberate decisions.

I worry that focusing our discussion in one major detail or two is like losing sight of the forest for the trees.

Starting before Labor Day is one detail, but there are other details about the calendar we could also question, things like:

– Why do we need two 4-day weekends (Labor Day and Memorial Day)? Could we use those two days instead of the two days before Labor Day?

-What is the benefit of having a Single Session on Monday, December 23rd? I believe taking Half-day of the Christmas Holidays week is more painful than taking Half-day from Spring Break.

As well, there are other issues that we need to consider more seriously, looking for information I realized that at least 2 bills for Virtual Instruction and 3 bills for having temperature-controlled classrooms has been submitted to the State Assembly and none passed the initial stages of review.

We might need to think bigger!

-Virtual Instruction implementation has proven to be challenging but it might be the safest bet we have when it comes to weather-related school closings. Should we start to focus our energy on bigger arenas other than just the BOE? Should we also demand that States laws are updated to ensure a safe learning environment by providing temperature-controlled classrooms for dealing with extreme heat?

-And following that train of thought, why not start revisiting the 180 days of school mandate? I assume teachers and kids must cover the entire curriculum before the end-of-the-year assessment or Spring testing for AP and older students.

In my opinion, the restriction of 180 days of school is obsolete if it’s forcing kids and teachers to stay in school long after all the curriculum has been taught. Quality over quantity.

We need to make changes and although I agree that the proposed changes in the calendar seem more like Bad Medicine than a real long-lasting solution, I really hope we use the momentum this controversy has created to keep moving forward and advocating for more than just calendar changes.

Full-Day kindergarten is also on the agenda for the incoming BOE meeting and although a big and important subject, it has been completely ignored.

There was also another point that caught me by surprise. As I stated in the first installment of my comments (thanks for reading up to this point!) for me, it’s not clear if a couple of days more are beneficial for the AP students in the district or not, but dismissing the needs of a particular group of students because its number is small is something I -personally- don’t feel comfortable about, I find it to be categorically incorrect. This is not directly related with classrooms temperatures but could help us start a conversation about a more inclusive school environment, after all, reaching consensus requires time and empathy.

We need to strive to be more inclusive of the preferences and needs of others even if they are just a small number of parents/students. We need to be careful when advocating for our own interest of not overstepping in the needs of others.

Who knows!.. maybe what started as a small change in the school calendar can take us to a deeper understanding of what fighting for a common good requires. You are all welcome to continue this discussion and other conversations at our Speak Up Summit meetings, if it is with a coffee or a frapuccino only the weather channel will tell!