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LASR poll results: No school until after Labor Day, most readers say

Craig Clough | October 6, 2015

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OPINION.POLL_A plurality of LA School Report readers responding to an online poll want LA Unified to return to a tradition schedule, starting school after Labor Day in September, giving families an eight-week window for summer vacations in July and August.

With 758 readers voting, over 41 percent chose the post-Labor Day schedule, which is what LA Unified always had before it began experimenting with August schedules in 2012.

With many teachers and parents complaining about the late summer heat — which has also increased the district’s electric bill by over $1 million per year since the August schedules began — the district is now considering various options — and is even conducting its own phone poll, although technical glitches and interrupted it.

LA School Report offered readers the same six options the district offered in its telephone survey.

The winning choice represented a 2-to-1 preference over the second most popular option, a calendar that would begin August 15 and end June 12, with the semesters being separated by a three-week winter break. This option, which got almost 20 percent of the vote, is close to what the district has adopted for the current academic year.

The third most popular option, with almost 13 percent of the vote, could be called the “radical” option, which would shorten summer break to five weeks and extend winter break to seven weeks, while potentially creating a 20-day summer session and 20-day winter inter-session for students needing credit recovery.

The last three options, which all involved different August start dates, received between 7 and 10 percent of the vote.

Currently, the LAUSD Calendar Committee is studying the six options and is expected to take its recommendation to Superintendent Ramon Cortines, who is would then present his choice to the school board in December.

Nearly the entire draft report from the committee, and the majority of an article in the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) newsletter by committee member Gerardo Loera, touted the academic benefits of an August start. The committee found that since the August calendar began, students have had higher grades on average and more of them enrolled in AP classes. Loera also pointed out several studies that examined the “summer learning loss” and how shortening summer break is advantageous to academic learning.

The focus of Loera’s article and the draft report indicate the committee prefers an August start date, and Loera in particular touted the “radical” calendar. Should the LA Unified phone poll be completed and also show that most parents prefer a post-Labor Day schedule, it will be interesting to see to what level the results will impact LA Unified’s calendar decision.

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