Parent petition urging LAUSD board to ‘Save Our Summer!’
Craig Clough | December 1, 2015
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As LA Unified studies several academic calendar options while also reaching out for public input, a group of parents has started an online petition, asking the district not to consider the “extreme” option of shortening summer break to five weeks while extending winter break to seven.
An advisory panel is currently studying six different academic calendars and is expected to recommend one to the LA Unified school board to use for the next three academic years. Some of the options have school starting in mid- or early-August, as it has the last few years, while one option has a post-Labor Day start, which the district had before 2012.
The option that prompted the online petition calls for school to begin in early August, include a five-week winter break and not conclude for summer until late June. The district could then potentially add a four-week winter credit recovery session to its schedule.
While the advisory panel has yet to offer any recommendations, Gerardo Loera, principal of Virgil Middle School and a member of the LAUSD Calendar Committee, wrote an article that highlighted many of the beneficial academic aspects of a shortened summer break. The district is also in the throes of a graduation crisis and is leaning heavily on credit recovery options, making the extended winter break a potentially enticing option for the school board.
The plan would “address summer learning loss by shortening the break and reallocating the days to an extended winter break,” Loera wrote. “A four-week summer school and a four-week winter intersession would allow many LAUSD students to experience up to 220 days of instructional time if they attend both 20-day interventions in addition to the 180 day school year.”
The petition, which has already gathered almost 700 signatures, finds several faults with a shortened summer break, and reads, “This proposal is short-sighted in numerous respects.”
The problems the petitions cites include increased childcare costs associated with the extended winter break, lost summer opportunities for students not in need of credit recovery, the excessive summer heat that students will have to suffer through, difficulties in aligning sports schedules with other districts and putting Advanced Placement high school classes on a completely different schedule from other cities and states.
“The proposed plan should be rejected in favor of a more traditional 12 week summer vacation ending in later August, along with a more reasonable 2 week winter break, which is observed by virtually all academic institutions and businesses in the United States,” the petition states. “To alter this longstanding and well-established calendar and practice raises a multitude of difficulties.”
*Corrects proposed break lengths of “extreme” option.