Len Robbins: A flip-flop on when summer should stop

I'm usually on the side of tradition.

Unless I'm not.

Some educators and politicians have suggested that the traditional American school year — nine months of schooling with the summers and holidays off — is antiquated and in need of reform. Others, including myself in this space, have called for a longer summer, where the school year doesn't start until September.

As a child, I remember fondly the long summer breaks and winter vacations I enjoyed away from school. Staying at home all day with nothing to do. So bored I disassembled the vacuum cleaner. Eating crackers in my parents' bed. Playing in the mud in the backyard with my dog, Fred. Then, he and I running through the house, flinging black muck every which way. Fred later showed me how to clean the mud off my body by rolling on the carpet.

Ah, yes, those were the carefree days of youth.

As an adult, I hung onto those warm recollections and scoffed at the educational call for change.

Until Christmas holidays a couple of years ago. Then the following summer. Then a week-long "fall break," which I don't recall from my youth. Then the next Christmas holidays, then ... this summer, where I am spending entirely too many hours as a chauffeur. Well, you get it, and may be in the middle of it.

Now, I have jumped ship to the year-long school camp. But I'm not in the year-long school faction where you still have children attending classes for 180 days, only the breaks are longer. That is absolutely what I don't want. I'm in the small, but determined, cabal that is calling for children to be in school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Monday through Friday, 52 weeks a year, minus Christmas, Thanksgiving and other legitimate holidays.

I support this 12-month schooling schedule for the following reasons:

1. That is the schedule for most working adults.

Our children need to get used to it as soon as possible, unless they plan on marrying into royalty, or being a rapper.

2. It's too expensive to keep them at home.

For working families, during those elongated breaks, you are forced to either leave your children home alone or hire a babysitter. If the movie "Home Alone" has taught us anything — and it hasn't — it's that leaving your children home alone, while inexpensive and hilarious, can be painful to Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, and be destructive to your house.

3. Other countries are doing it, and that's why they are kicking our tails academically.

Do you think the children in Japan get a week off for Thanksgiving? I don't know either, but maybe they don't. While kids in America are running around shooting off fireworks on July 4, students in India are in class, learning calculus, trigonometry, telemarketing, subtraction and other advanced mathematical concepts.

Yes, I admit I have altered my opinion on this issue, and abandoned what I felt to be just and true. And I reserve the right to do it again — in four years.

Call it what you will, a gut feeling or women's intuition, but I have an odd sense that I'll believe differently then — when my youngest child graduates from high school.

Len Robbins is the editor of the Clinch County News.

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