Opposing July 31 Cobb County School Start Date
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We the undersigned write to voice our reasons for opposing the July 31 start date for our children’s academic year and submit this petition seeking to change current calendar trends. We write now because we feel that the start date of July 31 crosses a symbolic line that both threatens the nature of the traditional summer vacation and the developmental promise a more traditional calendar affords our children and families. Furthermore, we feel this start date portends a future of year-round school, an option that we did not choose when we decided to invest in Cobb County. Thus, we write to demand that the Cobb County School Board (CCSB) institute a compromise measure that pushes the start date back into August.
We urge you to adopt some of the following options and review the reasons for our opposition so that you can prevent future start dates in July:
- Cancel either the September or February week-long holiday periods. Most families with two working parents cannot afford to hire childcare for these additional holidays and thus the "balanced calendar" presents true economic challenges. Though there are some parents who state that they appreciate the ability to take a vacation “off-season,” we feel that our children’s rights for uninterrupted educational development during the academic year takes precedence over the freedom of the few to take more off-season vacations.
- Consider adding a few days in May onto the calendar so that our children do not have to come back to school in July, during the hottest time of the year. We ask that you consider the health risks to our adolescents who are forced to begin band and afternoon sports practice during these weeks, as well as the extra energy costs posed by asking Cobb County bus drivers to transport our children during the hottest afternoons of the year.
- We find that the extra weeks off in the current schedule turn into more “wind down” and "wind up" days leading up to and following each break, periods of interrupted instruction that threaten our children’s opportunities for deeper learning.
- Changing the calendar in order to address socioeconomic disparity (the concern that underprivileged students will lose access to free-and-reduced lunches and after-school care during a traditionally longer summer break) constitutes a “government intervention” into community matters that have long been addressed by faith-based and civic organizations. We question why a traditionally conservative county would impose tax-payer measures to address these concerns. In fact, we suspect that the shorter summer and additional vacations during the year benefit only the most affluent members of our county.
- We have seen no evidence to suggest that our children beginning the school year one-month-to-six-weeks earlier than the rest of the country and up to a week earlier than other Atlanta-area and Georgia public school students is rendering our children more competitive.
- We understand that giving teachers one week off every quarter does not afford them the same personal and professional opportunities as granting them their traditional 10-12 weeks off. The long break has been considered to be an unofficial "perk" to an under-compensated vocation--a perk that has been decidedly compromised by the county's actions.
- Several weeks of the calendar year in Georgia are already consumed by test-taking. We urge you to weigh this fact as another reason to postpone the start date and return to a more traditional calendar to preserve the educational integrity of sustained learning in the classroom.
- Neither involved parents nor dedicated and experienced teachers are currently able to list reasons why the calendar has been altered to the extent that it has over the past two-to-three years. As tax payers, we feel that the CCSB has taken drastic action without consulting parents across the diverse districts of the county.
Some of us have considered holding our children back from the first few days of school as an act of resistance to what we see as unnecessary, if not hostile, encroachment into our families’ needs—resistance that we understand that our teachers cannot take with us. We urge you to take some of the simple steps outlined above to meet our needs as active members of this community. Thank you for reading through our concerns. We look forward to clear and decisive action from you as a board.
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