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Dear Superintendent Cortines and LAUSD Board Members:

We are LAUSD parents that want to express our concern over the district proposals to dramatically alter summer vacations.  The most extreme example shortens the summer vacation to as little as 5 weeks, while lengthening the already too long winter break to as long as 7 weeks.

This proposal is short-sighted in numerous respects. Several of these reasons are highlighted below.

I. Childcare.

Working parents need consistency in order to obtain childcare.  LAUSD’s capricious practice of changing the calendar every year has made it very difficult for working parents to obtain consistent care for their children.  Obtaining child care for a 7 week winter break will place a terrific burden upon LAUSD parents who are working outside of the home.  Low income parents will have difficulty finding quality childcare and camp opportunities for their children.  Also, college students, who are often employed to care for school age children, are not available during extended winter vacations since they themselves will be back in school. 

II. Lost Summer Opportunities.

In the summer, students have the chance to participate in activities outside of school that can enhance and further their academic experiences, and help them become well-rounded individuals.  Summer provides opportunities for many outdoor activities, most of which are just not possible during the winter.  Summer jobs, summer camp, summer college programs, summer internships, and summer research opportunities are all valuable experiences that will be unavailable or severely impaired if constricted into a 5 week summer break, or if forced to end prematurely, as would occur if yet another proposal being advanced by LAUSD were adopted.  The loss of student summer income may create an additional financial hardship for some families.

III. AP Tests.

High school students in Advanced Placement classes will be on a completely different schedule than their counterparts in other cities and states.  Allowing LAUSD to be competitive on AP tests was one of the main justifications offered for LAUSD’s change to an earlier start some years ago. Does LAUSD now wish to short-change the same AP students by removing them from their studies during December and January? 

IV. Heat. 

The summer heat in Los Angeles is prohibitive, and, with global warming, is getting even hotter. LAUSD air conditioning units cannot handle the load imposed by the heat if school is in session during the middle of the hot summer. The air conditioning load results in higher energy costs to a school district which is already underfunded. Physical Education classes cannot take place outside due to excessive heat and the risk to students of heat-related injuries, or even death.

V. Sports Schedules.

Sports schedules revolve around a traditional academic calendar.  How will these be re-configured to allow competition with other schools which are on a traditional calendar?  There may be missed college recruiting opportunities that may preclude some students from attending college.  And, the same heat issues that apply to physical education are even more problematic with competitive sports.

VI. Summer Plans.

Families with children in different schools and universities will be unable to program their children’s summer courses and activities or to vacation together. Furthermore, families will be precluded from spending time with extended family members who live in distant locales.

VII.  Alternatives.

The district cited the needs of low-achieving students as its justification for the proposed calendar changes.  According to the district, low-achieving students would benefit from less time away from classroom learning. It is certainly possible for LAUSD to offer summer school for those in need, without damaging the overall program for all students by changing the entire calendar and depriving other students of their summer.

Studies show that learning interventions are more effective when offered contemporaneously with grade level curriculum. And, there is insufficient evidence that year-round calendars improve learning or test scores.

VIII.  Conclusion.

The proposed plan should be rejected in favor of a more traditional 12 week summer vacation ending in later August, along with a more reasonable 2 week winter break, which is observed by virtually all academic institutions and businesses in the United States. To alter this longstanding and well-established calendar and practice raises a multitude of difficulties.

Sincerely yours,

Concerned LAUSD Parents

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