Extended School Year

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May 11, 2021, 12:40:43 AM5/11/21
to School Board Public Comments
Dear Los Alamos School Board Members,

My name is John Counce. I am a sixth grader at Barranca Mesa Elementary. I am writing this letter because of the proposed additional 10-25 days in the school year. I request that you do NOT extend the school year. It will be to the detriment of the students, staff, and teachers of Los Alamos to extend the school year.
I understand that there are reasons you might consider this a good option for reasons such as - 1) it could help kids who struggle with academics with additional time to understand the topics; 2) it could allow for all kids (both those who struggle and those who are at grade level or higher) to be more prepared for the next year; 3) it would also result in the teachers having an increased salary for the year (an increase between $ 854 to $ 3,823 a year depending on the teacher position). These are all valid points for the argument to have an extended school year. I also know that the Los Alamos Public School District will get an additional $5 million dollars in federal funding if they opt for the extended school year.

These arguments for the extended school year are far outweighed by the arguments against. You, as the school board, are there for the students and teachers and I ask you to think of the kids and teachers and not the money. That money will not last forever, it will eventually reach an end. The teachers are overworked already and a small increase in pay is not worth their mental health or time. The students are not going to benefit from more school.

There are a lot of negatives to the extended school year. As we have seen in countries with longer school years, it often results in decreased happiness and increased stress. In South Korea, they attend school from 7am-10pm. They have a lot more instructional time and material but a child’s happiness is markedly lower than in the U.S.A. The rate of suicide among school aged kids in South Korea is higher due to these stresses. Given the fact that I personally know grade school kids, middle school kids, and high school kids here in Los Alamos who are suicidal and/or have committed suicide, I think that is an important fact to consider.
 We have discussed this proposal a lot at school and I have done some reading on it too. We can learn from other countries and their experiences. A school Superintendent in Japan once said that he wishes that the kids of Japan could be more like kids in the United States. In short, he said that kids seem a lot happier and it's good for kids to be kids. Interestingly, Japanese kids attend fewer years of compulsory education than U.S.students. We are required to do 180 days of school a year but have to attend at least 13 years of school (K-12). Japan’s required education is 210 days of school a year for 9 years. So are required to do 1890 days of school in Japan and 2160 days of school in the U.S.A. Yet, Japan has the same problems as Korea - high stress, high suicide and high burnout. So, I am left to believe that longer school years combined with four additional school years beyond Japan is a recipe for disaster.

If you did decide to add 10 to 25 mandatory extra days of school, you would be shortening family time both for teachers and students. Instead of kids going on road trips, going to dinner, going to see relatives, or just a small 1 day trip, they would be doing work when they could be out in the sun having fun with their family or friends. This would also impact kids who have to go out of state for the summer to stay with relatives. These are all very important ways that students learn in the real world how to have meaningful relationships. That is as important as book smarts.

This would also have a huge impact on summer camps and some might shut down because kids cannot come. Summer camps offer kids the ability to learn about nature, art, more about an instrument, or specific academic areas. The thing about summer camps is that they are supposed to be fun and school is not really fun or appealing to kids. After the crazy year of 2020 and a little of 2021, this could cause kids to bounce off the walls more than ever and make kids be even more stir crazy.

The summer is also a time for many kids to learn social skills, such as going downtown and learning how to conserve your money and make sure you have enough money. Or to learn how to be more social and to make sure to respect other people and property. Summer is also a much needed break from the work at school and the firm routine of school. In the summertime you also learn to practice and become better at sports and just have an overall good time with your friends. I know that academics are super important but I think that the social part is just as important. The same could be said for the teachers because teachers have families and also need breaks.

I understand that there are students who struggle and I think that the 10-25 extra days could be for kids if they are struggling in school and it could be better suited to those kids’ needs rather than having a large group of kids at different levels of need.

Thank you for your time in reading this letter,

 John Counce

 This email has been sent from a verified laschools.net user.
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