School All Year
The Chicago Tribune reports that more than 90 public schools in Chicago will switch to a year-round schedule. This won’t involve more time in class, because the usual summer break will be split up into shorter breaks at intervals throughout the year.
It’s a step in the right direction when districts experiment with new ways of doing things. It would be even better if they gave parents a choice between year-round school and a long summer break. Making the year-round schedule optional would prevent conflicts with parents who liked the old schedule better.
When a district gives parents a choice, it has an opportunity to learn about parents’ preferences. Do they value long vacations? Do they think year-round school helps students retain the material? It’s more pleasant for everyone if these preferences are expressed through enrollment decisions, rather than through angry phone calls after the district puts all families on a new schedule, whether they like it or not.