We’re not even at the midpoint of summer yet (more than 50 days left), and already kids here in Georgia (as in “you got me hotter than Georgia asphalt” Georgia) are going back to school. Classes in Cherokee, Rockdale, and Henry counties start today. The temperatures in Atlanta this week are expected to hit the high 90s.
Oh, don’t worry. Cherokee students can bring water bottles onto school buses until it cools down, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And 41% of regular education buses are air-conditioned. And there are always those raging thunderstorms to provide relief.
There should be a Geneva Convention for schools. The issue of early starts in Southern states should be near the top of the action list.
For some strange reason, school boards in one of the hottest states — with some of the lowest test scores — feel a need to get started early every school year. Parents and children hate this, of course, especially when the AC units aren’t functioning properly. And since August is traditionally the hottest month, having a full load of classes drives electric bills skyward. (Is Georgia Power behind this?)
In fact, many parents boycott the schools until after Labor Day, bringing their kids in to school when THEY’VE decided that summer is over. This drives principals crazy. (On the other hand, some parents can’t wait to dump their kids off on someone else.)
Actually, the truth hurts. DeKalb County officials once explained to parents that they had to start the school year early so that the first semester would end before winter break. If they didn’t give finals before Christmas, students would forget much of what they learned and do poorly.
This seems basically wrong, in an “All hope is lost” kind of way. No retention, no lasting value. There’s got to be a better way.
My son graduated from high school in May, and he won’t start college classes for nearly three weeks. He hated the early start dates. Born on August 11,he was usually sitting in a classroom on his birthday.
In the end, it boils down to what Mark Twain said: “In the first place, God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.”
Update: Some Cherokee County parents have upbraided me for writing this. I encourage them to check out Maureen Downey’s recent post on ajc.com’s Get Schooled Blog discussing the possible heat-related death of a high school football player. If you actually believe I’m alone in my thinking, read the comments section.