Stop Learning: One Hears Term Paper

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[. . .] As students learn English they are likely to appear to make more rapid progress than an English-proficient norming group. (Slavin & Calderon, 2001, p. 6)

Certainly these results would seem to confirm that, with greater attention, to these students English language skills, great strides could be made in the performance of these students. Year Round School can help these students to learn English more quickly and completely.

In addition, Year Round Schools have been claimed to increase teacher performance. In the case especially of new teachers, it is easier for teachers to develop a workable routine under these circumstances. Also, any problems they have can be corrected more quickly as they are likely to be observed sooner than in a system that stretches out the six-month school year over the course of a full chronological year. Planning and coordination between different teachers and different grade levels, and tracks, is facilitated too. (Morris, Chrispeels & Burke, 2003, p. 764) And as the year round system aids teacher training and professional development, it also helps students in many more ways than simply the improvement of language skills for LEP students. "The year-round school schedule provides intervals for extra help to boost those kids who need more time." (Dewert, Babinski & Jones, 2003) Any child who is having difficulties academically can have those difficulties addressed more readily than in a system where children are frequently away on long vacations.

In Denver, Colorado one can observe both some of the benefits, and some of the problems of Year Round School. "70% of the students who start the year are still in class at the end, but the other 30% turn over several times." (Subramanyam, 2001) That figure points up a major problem facing society in general. In today's America, families move so frequently that many children are continually being uprooted. These children are not in any one school long enough that their progress can be accurately monitored, or their problems -- if any -- addressed. Year Round School compounds the problems that one child has when moving from district to district. There is not only the difficulty involved in the difference between someone switching from a Traditional System to a Year Round System (or vice-versa), but also the dilemma of different districts having different Year Round School schedules.

Further, one can notice a similar two-fold pattern in terms of non-academic student behavior. Again, children with disciplinary or psychological problems would tend to have more opportunities for their problems to become noticed more quickly in a Year Round System. And it would seem obvious that these problems could be addressed more steadily and tenaciously in the Year Round System. Still, in both these cases, the Traditional System does have its advantages. Students who are, for example, the victims of bullying would be susceptible to these depredations on a full-time basis in the Year Round School.

In a self-determined classroom, students are accountable for their treatment of others and for the outcomes of their interactions. Self-determination is an empowering construct that is closely linked to self-efficacy. Students who practice self-determination gain a confidence in their ability to be self-sufficient, and so become more efficacious.

(Doll, Song & Siemers, 2004, p. 174)

Of course, if these are positive situations, the Year Round School would tend to reinforce their positive aspects. However, in the case of students trapped in a negative environment, it is clear that the non-Traditional School would only make the situation worse. The potential for undue pressure as a result of the Year Round School System is clearly evident.

In truth, pressure -- in this case the pressure of competition -- is one of the main arguments advanced for Year Round Schools. " 'International competition' became the rationale for year - round school." (Kauffman, 2002, p. 49) International Competition has been blamed for many innovations. In recent years, or so it seems, almost every aspect of American life has come under the microscope. Once evaluated, it becomes a candidate for "improvement" by some "well-meaning" public interest group or government agency. Today, it is the alleged superiority of school to family that drives the summer-school bus. "Americans don't even know what to do with their children during the summertime," asserts the technocratic economist Lester Thurow. (Kauffman, 2002, p. 49) Though a Year Round Program might help alleviate problems of teacher shortages, and lack of classroom space, it is not so clear cut whether the idea actually solves any of the other problems of the modern educational system:

A Texas-based organization known as Time to Learn believes year-round calendars are not the way to reform education. "Simply giving our children more of the same instruction, or at different times during the year, has not been the answer to educational woes," says Tina Bruno, the group's executive director.

(Mcglynn, 2002)

As far as academics and personal enrichment go, the argument seems to be a matter of perspective. Educators and parents alike, find themselves asking the question "How much of our children's lives should be carefully planned? Should our children always be 'on schedule'?" Many year round schools boast about offering a wide variety of cultural programs in addition to the usual academic fodder. As one Maine school describes its Year Round Program,

Heartwood is a year-round school that offers community and college courses. Some courses offered include photography, jewelry, drawing, Raku, oil painting, and printmaking. We offer a two-year associates degree and certificate program. To study at Heartwood is to become a part of the natural beauty and artistic tradition of Maine.

("2001 Summer Arts Directory," 2001, p. 52)

Obviously Heartwood sees itself as an all-around, community institution; one that works toward the betterment of all. Nevertheless, as others point out, there is more to growing up than just school. If schools are failing, it may not be the fault of "the system," as much as it is a fault of the community itself. The Traditional System seemed to have worked well in the past, so what has changed?

When we say that a school is dysfunctional, we are looking only at the symptom. The failure lies not with the school but with the community. The community is failing, is dysfunctional, if it is not demanding that the best teachers be hired and be paid accordingly, if it is not demanding that parents prepare their children to do their best in school, if it permits children to spend more than twenty hours a week on sports and work, if parents do not require that homework be finished before the TV is turned on.

("School Vouchers," 2002)

School, and the communities of which they are a part, should look at all aspects of the problem before they leap to dramatic solutions. Many different things go into the process of growing up. Many different factors produce knowledgeable adults who are good citizens. If a school district has "poor grades," it should not automatically be assumed that generations-old system is at fault. What once worked could possibly still work. Year Round School is an interesting idea, but one that represents an extremely significant break with the past. Schools, parents, and communities should think carefully before tearing down the edifice of the "old schoolhouse."

References

1) 2001 Summer Arts Directory. (2001, February). School Arts, 100, 52.

2) Chrispeels, J.H. (2002). EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS - the California Center for Effective Schools: The Oxnard School District Partnership. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(5), 382.

3) Dewert, M.H., Babinski, L.M., & Jones, B.D. (2003). Safe Passages: Providing Online Support to Beginning Teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(4), 311+.

4) Doll, B., Song, S., & Siemers, E. (2004). 9 Classroom Ecologies That Support or Discourage Bullying. In Bullying in American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention, Espelage, D.L. & Swearer, S.M. (Eds.) (pp. 161-179). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

5) Heck, R.H. (2004). Studying Educational and Social Policy: Theoretical Concepts and Research Methods/. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

6) Kauffman, B. (2002, September). School's Out!. The American Enterprise, 13, 49.

7) Mcglynn, A. (2002, March). Districts That School Year-Round: In a Handful of Systems, Every School Follows a Year-Long Calendar. School Administrator, 3, 34+.

8) Morris, M., Chrispeels, J., & Burke, P. (2003). PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT THAT… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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