Year-round school system in NYC wouldn’t work

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Razia Islam

Schools all across the United States have followed the traditional 10-month school year system for over a century. Recently New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio presented the idea to end this tradition.

Instead of a 10-month school year, he proposed a new alternative — a year-round school system with extended school days funded through taxes. This idea would be detrimental to the city’s school system, which is already suffering amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The basis for his proposal was a desire to help the city’s working-class families who he claims “struggle to find a way” to deal with the two-month-long summer vacations. From his proposed idea, it seems like he wants to convert the city’s schools from teaching facilities to babysitting centers.

De Blasio claims that this is a “first in the nation idea,” however, this is not entirely true. Year-round schools exist all over the country. In fact, they’ve been around since the 1970’s when a school in Colorado decided to implement that system.

As expected, the year-round system took a toll on everyone involved like teachers, students, parents and school administrators. Additionally, the school also dealt with several students unenrolling, showcasing the harsh backlash this system would receive.

The year-round school model is a well-known alternative to the traditional school model and recently has been brought up for debate as many students fall behind from pandemic learning.

Schools that follow the year-round model “provide enrichment activities such as fine arts camps and field trips, or tutoring and other academic support” during the short, frequent breaks, according to The Hechinger Report.

Optional or not, having these so-called “breaks” where students are forced to continue working will only be harmful. Students need leisure time to do activities that they would like to do. These breaks with “enrichment activities” only provide the illusion of choice while completely dismissing a child’s needs and randomly placing them throughout the school year means working parents will still have to make adjustments to their work schedules to accommodate for childcare. Companies will also not be as well-adjusted to these breaks as they are with the traditional two-month summer vacation.

This dilemma would result in most parents making their children attend these enrichment activities during breaks, regardless of the voluntary status.page1image34347584 page1image34352384

De Blasio continuously mentions academics when discussing his plans, only briefly glossing over having recreation and cultural programs for the summer. It would not come as a surprise if school breaks were just filled with more academic work rather than enrichment activities that other schools have enforced.

Children need to be given free time to just be themselves. Not every valuable skill can be taught at school — some things need to be experienced firsthand to be learned.

Having short, sporadic breaks will only be an inconvenience at best. Families will have a hard time planning vacations with such little time. A hefty number of student absences, taking away from education, can easily be anticipated.

Students’ freedom for leisure will come at the expense of their education, a tradeoff that many parents will be having to reluctantly decide on with the year-round model.

Additionally, the model will not only be hard on students and parents but also on teachers and school staff. Teachers are already underpaid for their work and forced to work outside of their school hours as well. These breaks would just be spent grading and creating lesson plans.

In the past summer, the city opened up its summer school program to all students. Similarly, this program involved both academics and these enrichment activities.

The program faced a lot of challenges including “staffing shortages, confusion about how to enroll and transportation issues,” according to Patch.

Although many parents were content with this program, a similar program cannot be implemented for all New York City students until intensive planning is done.

Besides, many schools, particularly those in low-income areas, do not have the infrastructure to withstand the harsh summers. Summer programs for all can’t be issued until internal problems, such as insufficient school funding, are fixed.

Like the year-round school system, extended school hours would spark similar issues.

Long school hours, even if optional, will feel like a punishment to kids who are forced to endure them. Students should not be doing extra hours of schooling to accommodate an adult’s schedule.

Instead, de Blasio should focus on allocating more funds to underfunded school districts so they have better afterschool programs and extracurricular activities.page2image34443392

The segregation within the city’s schools is no secret. Low-income students will be the ones drawing the short end of the stick and suffering through unhelpful extended school hours.

To really “help families get what they deserve,” why not focus on the root of the problem and work with companies and lawmakers to change the grueling work schedules that parents and guardians are forced to endure?

Perhaps if de Blasio were to expand more on his idea, more people could get on board but for now, it seems as though there are more drawbacks to it than positives. He should instead focus on problems beyond the surface level to fix educational inequalities.

New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams has ideas similar to de Blasio.

He has discussed wanting to begin schooling at an earlier age, following his “cradle to career” slogan. However, it is unclear if Adams will be participating in reforming school policy as closely as de Blasio has done.

As of yet, there is still no word on if Adams will enforce any of de Blasio’s year-round school or extended schooling hours ideas.

Regardless, a year-round school system and extended school hours are just not plausible for New York City.