Saturday, August 25, 2007

Roasting and Baking

There is a huge uproar going on around the state, and including my community, about the fact that we start school before Labor Day. This has been brought on by the fact that we have pretty much shattered just about any record ever set having to do with heat in the month of August. Thanks to one of my new blog links, Category Five (a blog put out by the folks at the National Weather Service in Nashville), it's easy to check out all the records we've broken. Or to figure out how darn miserable the weather really is just in case you haven't figured that out already.

Here's a run down...31 consecutive days over 90 degrees, 15 days at 99 and above, seven consecutive days at 100 or higher. There's a lot more, but you get my drift.

The result is Metro Nashville schools were pretty much on half days most, if not all, of last week, and some counties shut down schools altogether for Thursday and Friday. Our district stayed open and on regular hours, probably because we have a kickbutt maintenance staff and our AC was working great. In fact, it's so cold in my room, and the kids keep complaining about it. I just tell them to bring a sweater and keep it in their lockers since we really don't have any control over how hot or cold it is in our rooms, as we're in the old part of the building. After last summer when the AC didn't work until the day before school started, I'm not complaining. I'm still being thankful.

However, I don't have to get on a hot bus and ride home in the afternoon when it's 105 outside, and I also don't have to walk home in the same dreadful conditions. Many parents are, understandably, having melt-downs because their kids are suffering in the heat as the buses are not, obviously, air conditioned.

The local paper had a survey that asked "Do you think that the District should put air conditioning on school buses?" The answer was something like 68% in favor. However, I contend that if the question had been worded, "Are you willing to pay higher taxes so the District could put air conditioning on school buses?", the response would have been significantly lower.

So the debate is raging - we should start school after Labor Day. I have no problem with this and could care less one way or the other. When I grew up in Los Angeles, we started school towards the last two weeks of September and got out in the middle of June. Up in Ohio we started the week before Labor Day. Here, we start around the 8th of August, which means most teachers are actually starting to work in their rooms in late July. Some of the reasoning given about why we start so early is it means the high school kids don't have to study for semester exams over the winter break, seniors can get their transcripts faster, people don't like to be in school past Memorial Day and honestly, September can be pretty amazingly hot as well. The big reason, however, in my eyes is the amount of time we have to prepare for our Very Big Deal State Mandated Tests, which are in April. If they scheduled them in May, which I wish they'd do because the kids think they're done after the tests, it wouldn't be an issue. But as it is, that August start date gives us nearly 3 solid weeks of instruction before Labor Day.

So readers and fellow teachers...when do you start school? And how does your public feel about it?


Princess Lionhead said...

I think we started the 6th (3 weeks ago!!) and although I hate returning to work in late July, when May rolls around I definitely have Summer Fever, I'm glad to be out before June!

teachergirl said...

Students started in Atlanta on the 13th with teachers reporting on the 6th. We have been sizzling since Day 1, especially because I teach in a "tin box," according to the AC guy who has practically moved in with my class. The air continues to cut out on us daily. We sweat and swelter. One class of first graders had to do completely without air conditioning for the entire first week of school because it was just plain broken.
It is too hot to be in school. September in the deep South is hot enough as it is. Start school in August and we're just asking for trouble. The AC bill in my county is probably going to be absurd. The AC guy said all the trailers were having the same trouble. Tinboxes in August just aren't going to get cool, especially the August we've been having.

Karen said...

I teach in Florida. A few years ago we spent two years moving the school year up (starting earlier) two weeks, one week each year. I think our earliest start date was August 8 - with teachers starting the week before. Then all of a sudden parents were up in arms at the early start date. Their arguments were that their kids couldn't vacation with family who lived in the northeast. The state's reason for moving the start date was 1) seniors could graduate early and start college in Jan. and 2) Two more weeks of school before state testing. Well, the parents won and we spent the past 2 years moving the school year back two weeks. Florida has now passed a law (?) that school cannot start more than 2 weeks before Labor Day. Our first day of school was last Monday August 20th.

HappyChyck said...

We start school on Monday, August 27. The other schools in the state start that day, or started this last week. I think it's always been that way. We often have students who don't show up until after Labor day, though, and that's irritating.

On A/C...much of our school is suffering without it. Repairmen in and out all week. On Friday our principal told us the part needed is nowhere in the city and they are hoping to get it in time for school on Monday but that we should brace ourselves for classrooms with no air. She said the district was unlikely to postpone the start of school, but we will be having a cooling trend (seriously) with only 100 degree temperatures. I'm crossing my fingers that the A/C still continues to work in my classroom--and I am thankful to be one of the lucky few. I spent all of last week at the school simply SWEATING. So miserable I wanted to cry. My heart goes out to those of you not exactly used to it. I'm used to it, but I still hate it.

ms-teacher said...

Our first week was this past week. When I first started teaching seven years ago, we started the Tuesday after Labor Day. Since then, we have moved up our start up day by almost two weeks. We do this for state testing, but also because we have a week off at Thanksgiving, two weeks off at Christmas and two weeks off for Spring break. Personally, I don't mind it too much because I would rather have a short summer break with more breaks spread throughout the school year.

NYC Educator said...

In NY we start school after Labor Day, but teachers have to come in two days early to listen to speeches about what a great job Mayor Bloomberg is doing. It's an incredible waste of time, but it's been part of our contract since 05.

EHT said...

In my district which is west of Atlanta we started the week before Teachergirl. We are also always done before Memorial Day. I like it that way because like you wrote....September is very hot as well here in the deep south, so what are ya' gonna do?

Starting later would alleviate that month of hell after testing though. ;)

We actually had a cold wave today...we didn't get up to the hundred though we were in the 90s. Sounds strange, but it does make a difference.

Mrs. T said...

In the area where I live, we are all over the map as far as start dates. My district started last Thurs., Aug. 23. We tend to start about a week or 2 before Labor Day and get out about a week and a half after Memorial Day. It's always been like that. In Iowa, they don't like to start too early in the rural districts because of the State Fair and the number of families participating- 4H and whatnot. Most schools are not air conditioned at all, which stinks on these days when it is 90+ degrees and oh-so-humid.

Darren said...

We just finished our 2nd week of school. The rooms on either side of mine are the poles, while my room is the tropics. Even the big floor fan I brought in doesn't *really* help.