Give students their summers back

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By The Staff

Senate Bill 134, "The Family Summer Vacation Preservation Bill" is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Education Committee. This bill will mandate that Kentucky schools not start before the third full week in August.

The reasons that this bill is moving forward are abundantly clear. Putting our kids on "rolling ovens" i.e. school busses, allowing oppressive heat to run up district utility bills, and crippling Kentucky's tourist business to the tune of $115 million are the unconscionable effects of beginning school in early August.

More importantly, the new bill will give Kentucky families a more traditional summer vacation, a time for family members to reconnect and spend quality time together. Stealing summer vacation from our kids, which we all remember as being the most important part of our childhood, is abhorrent.

In addition, everything is out of sync with most everyone else in the nation because 39 of the 50 states begin classes the last week of August or after Labor Day. Vacations don't match, high school on-line classes don't start till late August, teachers cannot finish continuing education classes, shared custody issues are impossible and college-bound kids can't work to make money for the fall.

Eighty-eight percent of Kentuckians want this change, according to a recent survey (USA Mkt Research Study #13197 commissioned by The Coalition for a Traditional Calendar). One would think that something 88 percent of Kentuckians want would be a no-brainer to make happen in local school districts or address in Frankfort, but this is not that easy.

The main argument against SB 134 by superintendents, Kentucky School Board Association and the KEA is "it takes local control away from school districts." This can't be further from the truth - they can maintain their local calendar, breaks and all. But school districts are under such enormous pressure to improve CATS scores that a calendar race has developed in which districts have inched up their start dates to get a "jump start" on the other schools.

No superintendent in his right mind would voluntarily return to a later start date and risk losing a perceived educational advantage. A superintendent really does not have the local control of the start date, he is totally dependent on the surrounding schools, and starting later is not an option. The CATS test calendar, set by the state, caused these early start date. It is now up to the state legislature to resolve this problem by guiding the districts as to when to start.

Some consider this legislation "too controversial." It should never be too controversial to take control of our children's education and our family time. Because of the Save Kentucky Summers movement, several bills were filed to move the CATS test to the end of the school year. They have been retracted because the Department of Education made the smart decision to move the test on their own. This will solve part of the problem. However, the Department of Education does not have the authority to halt the advance of the start date.

We must ask the legislature to do what 88 percent of Kentucky families want and ask that the "Family Summer Vacation Preservation" Bill SB134, be passed. Please visit www.savekentuckysummers.com for more information.

Monica Froedge

Spokesperson for Save Kentucky Summers