If given the option of having children get a better education or a worse education, I believe everyone would pick a better education.
That’s why I find it disappointing that Craven County Schools has decided against continuing the year-round calendar at Havelock Elementary, Arthur W. Edwards Elementary and Tucker Creek Middle schools for next year.
Superintendent Lane Mills, with the backing of the Craven County Board of Education, want what is called a modified school calendar in which classes would start in early August and end in late May, and semesters would be split at the Christmas holiday, the calendar the county used to use.
They tried to get it for the current academic year by getting a waiver from the General Assembly that would allow the county to trump state law that mandates the start of classes no earlier than Aug. 25. The 2004 law, which exempts year-round schools, came about because beach businesses and the tourism industry felt an early August start to school was hurting the economies of beach locations.
The system’s effort to get a waiver failed, so the county kept both the current traditional and year-round calendars for this year.
Mills has said the system would seek another waiver to get the county on the modified calendar for the 2014-15 school year. Based on this year, there’s no reason to think a waiver would pass next year. Mills has said if it fails, all county schools — except the two early colleges — would go to the traditional calendar.
School system officials have said that having the year-round, traditional and early college school calendars makes county-wide training and meetings of teachers and administrators difficult to achieve. They also say many in the Havelock area who have children on different school calendars want just one to better coordinate schedules and vacations.
Having a daughter who attended Tucker Creek four years ago, I can certainly understand the scheduling issues that can arise with the year-round calendar.
But, many parents who have children on the year-round calendar love it. They say their children are getting a better education and are more engaged in school because of the three-week breaks that are built into the academic year.
There is no doubt that the learning ability of children is not the same. Some pick up math better than English, while others thrive on English and struggle in math. It’s just the way we seem to be wired.
With that said, it should stand to reason that some children thrive with the year-round calendar, while others may struggle with it. For those who do well and excel academically on the year-round calendar, they should be able to have the option to stay on that calendar. Taking it away for the convenience of having a meeting simply doesn’t make sense.
The bottom line is that parents are losing their right to choose what they think is best for their children. Local school officials will say the 2004 state law mandating the start of school is forcing their hands, and I agree. Simply put, it’s a bad law that takes choice away from local officials.
Still, the top priority of Craven County Schools should be to educate children. For many, the best way to do that is on the year-round calendar. Now school system leaders may take away the option of what can be a true educational benefit for children and are failing to listen to parents — parents who obviously know what is best for their own children.
It sounds to me like these Craven County school system leaders need a little education of their own.
Ken Buday is the editor and general manager of the Havelock News. He can be reached at 444-1999 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.