LIZA ING: Extending school year is better option to snow-day legislation

To the editor:

I am writing in response to the article regarding a “‘Permanent fix’ for snow days.”

We live in Michigan and snow days are inevitable. However, Mr. Potvin’s sponsored bill for dealing with making them up makes no sense. During the 2012-13 school year, schools were allowed to make up snow days by adding additional time to the school day rather than adding days to the end of the school year. Local schools did this by adding 15 minutes to the day.

Now Mr. Potvin would like to make this a permanent option for schools. This makes absolutely no educational sense. What educational value is there to an additional 15 minutes? For middle and high school that means an extra 3 minutes per class, how is this educational? What can a teacher do with three extra minutes? What can a teacher at the elementary school do with an extra 15 minutes? I realize that the actual number of snow days needed to be made up will have a direct impact on the number of additional minutes that might get added to the day, but in the big picture is there really an educational value to this option?

Mr. Potvin states “extending the school days will be beneficial for working parents, as longer days can actually save the need for finding a babysitter or making adjustments at work … Families who have planned vacations in early June and students with summer jobs…” I do not see this as being a valid argument. If I have a child who requires day care, I already have this set up for the year. This is Michigan, why would I plan a vacation in early June knowing that there may be snow days to make up? This is just poor planning on my part. Depending on the job, many summer jobs do not begin until mid to late June.

If we really want to educate our children then the only option for making up snow days is to extend the school year. This will also help at the high school as the second trimester is most affected by snow days. By extending the school year the second trimester could be extended by the same amount of days giving teachers the opportunity to get the education the students need and deserve. Students who ride buses are already getting home late (some as late as 5 pm) extending the day just gets them home even later.

Mr. Potvin and other legislators need to rethink this option as it is not an educationally valid one. If we truly want to educate our children, then extending the school year is the only option that makes sense. Better yet, let’s move to year-round schooling, this will give an opportunity to schedule days off during the winter which may help with snow days. As an educator I see this as the best option for all.

Liza Ing
Big Rapids

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