For an instructive read on what is driving ill-conceived and disruptive school reforms such as school calendar change read:
Why is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? by Kathy Emery and Susan Ohanian.
The book can be ordered at:
Year-Round Education: A Study in Masterful Marketing
Money is often motivator for calendar reformersThis section will give you an overview of the history and origins of the current push for school calendar change and provides some eye-opening information about the philosophies and writings of the leaders of the school calendar reforms.
There are three entries on this page:
less visible promoter of year-round school has been the business
sector through the influence of the Business Roundtable, an organization
of CEOs from the nation's largest corporations. It called for a
longer school year in its list of school reform demands, the powerful
influence of this group filtering down through an affiliate network of
national, state and local chamber of commerce groups. For insight on the
corporate motives for calendar change go to:
This speech is by Dr. John Hodge Jones, a board member of the National Association For Year-Round Education. He is the same man who recommends little children attend school on shifts, like factory workers, in an interview with a Tennessee newspaper. He is the same man who chaired a national study committee on time and learning which produced the federally funded Prisioner's of Time studies in 1994. Nearly all the "model" year-round schools featured in those reports have since returned to a traditional school calendar.
By the turn of the century, it was being embraced as an answer for many of the same problems that plague schools today: overcrowding, funding shortages and improving the education process. (1)
But the year-round school movement also has a long history of failure. Research on the year-round calendar by The Nation Education Association in report released in 1958 found that every school system that had attempted a 12-month calendar up to that point eventually abandoned it.(2) And founders of an organization that promotes year-round school admit in a book that through 1968, every community which had either tried a year-round calendar or thoroughly investigated the idea had rejected it (see page 23, The Year-Round School, by Hermansen and Gove). The reasons communities dumped it back then are the same reasons they dump year-round school today: Year-round schooling is disruptive to family life, provides little or no academic benefit and saves schools little or no money--and can even cost much more.
The baby boom that followed the return of American soldiers sparked a demand for more school construction; meanwhile, the space race with Russia fueled yet another debate about the quality of American education. Around the same time, state, county and local governments were wrestling with ways to pay for the infrastructure costs and the new school construction demands of rapidly growing suburban communities. Many postwar families fled the cities to the suburbs in search of a better environment to raise their children . . . and some in flight from court-ordered busing to desegregate schools.(3)
A flood of stories in the national media about the use of a year-round calendar to answer the serious school overcrowding problems in the suburbs that made up Valley View School District 96, near Chicago, sparked a wave of interest in the year-round school concept in the early 1970s. The Valley View School District, which includes Romeoville and Bolingbrook, was the first in the country to respond to booming enrollments by placing the entire school district on a rotating school calendar. In a 15-year period, the school district grew from 89 students to nearly 5,000 and was anticipated to swell to 7,000 by 1970s.(4)
The media attention given Valley View resulted in a long line of consulting jobs in other school districts for Kenneth L. Hermansen, the school superintendent and his assistant school superintendent, James Gove. These two would be instrumental in the formation of the National Council on Year-Round Education, forerunner organization of the National Association FOR Year-Round Education, the advocacy group that markets the year-round school concept to school districts today.(5)
Though Valley View was the first entire district to use a year-round calendar, there were other pilot programs under way or in the works in other areas of the county, prompted in some cases by demands of businesses--automotive-related industries in particular -- for a school calendar that would better accommodate their labor needs. The demand for more skilled workers to run industrial equipment made it increasingly more difficult to rely on unskilled laborers to fill in for workers who wanted to take vacations when their children were off in the summer. (6) (7)
YRS Researcher John McLain
McLain's experiment with a year-round flexible all-year calendar, begun in 1965 in Wisconsin, and continued through 1980 at Clarion College in Clarion, Penn., would capture the attention of the nation's political and business leaders. Working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, he traveled abroad to help advise and analyze the education systems of developing countries. A monograph outlining his views of the alternative calendar was sent to Secretary of Education Lauro Cavasos in follow up to the Education Summit called by President George Bush in 1989. His papers were used and studied by many appointed to serve on the dozens of education improvement commissions and task forces responding to a perceived education crisis.(9) (10)
But McLain, a co-founder of the organization that later became NAYRE in 1973, and who served as its executive secretary until 1978, had reservations about whether the change in the school calendar was really a workable idea. It's a bit of year-round school history that isn't discussed by year-round school promoters.
McLain expressed his reservations about the practicality of the year-round school calendar in his address to a Chrysler National Education Program committee on July 9, 1990. He told the committee the research demonstration model of a Nursery through Grade Twelve Flexible All-Year School at Clarion was closed in 1980 because our society was not yet ready for such a school structure. (11)
"By 1980, I had given up on our society changing as I had expected and recommended the research-demonstration model of the flexible all-year school we had developed at Clarion be closed. . . .It did not appear that our society was ready for such a school yet."
McLain said he was recruited for the job at Clarion because of his extensive articles and publications that forecast a need for a new school calendar by 1980 to meet anticipated changes brought about by the "cybernetic era (with computers, robots, etc.)"
Chrysler President Lee Iacocca revived McLain's hopes that the all-year school might become reality after all, after reading a news story in which Iacocca proposed the all-year school as a way ti improve public education and ensure competitiveness in world markets. Iacocca's remarks were made October 23, 1989 to a joint meeting of the Magazine Publishers Association and the American Society of Magazine Editors, which resulted in another wave of media attention to the year-round school concept.
Other events had also rekindled McLain's involvement in the all-year school movement from which he had backed away to such an extent that he didn't attend NAYRE annual meetings for a decade.
A minority chairperson on the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee, who had introduced a bill to lengthen the school year from 180 to 200 days, asked McLain to appear on television with her to discuss ideas he had previously presented to a Senate Education committee in 1971 about the need for all-year schools. She also asked McLain to write a monograph: Pennsylvania's Lead Role in Restructuring Our Education System to Meet Changing Needs. (12)
McLain's perspective on education needs, which included
year-round schooling, were shaped and influenced by a era of rapid
technological development. The postwar advances in computer technology led
to all sorts of speculation about what life would be like at the turn of
the new century.
Politicking by YR Promoters
Between 1977-79, the number of year-round programs
dropped from a peak of 28 states with at least one year-round school to
just 17, according to a reference directory published by what was then the
National Council on Year-Round Education, the forerunner organization of
the National Association For Year-Round Education.
Declining numbers did not discourage the marketers. The Introduction of that same directory, the Seventh Annual National Reference Directory of Year-Round Education Programs, says: "The eighties will bring a renewal of interest in and growth of year-round education as societies begin a period of rapid transition and transformation leading toward the year 2000 and beyond, and the consideration of alternative global futures."
The organization had lined up year-round school consultants for nearly every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories and published their names in the 1979-80 reference directory. Indeed, the year-round school organization, now headed by its new executive director Charles Ballinger, was ready for a revival. The timing for expansion was perfect, with the release in 1983 of "A Nation At Risk", which set in motion an unprecedented era of criticism of public education in America and a frenzy of activity to find ways to improve education.
The coup for the marketers of year-round education was the endorsement of the year-round school concept in Time For Results, a report of education reform recommendations issued in 1986 by the National Governors' Association. The governors' study was chaired by Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander (who would later become U.S. Education Secretary) and co-chaired by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton (who would later become president).
Ballinger's considerable influence on the governors' year-round school endorsement is confirmed by Gov. Ted Schwinden, who headed the School Facility Use segment of the governors' education task force. In his remarks to a NAYRE convention Schwinden says:
"All politicians like to claim credit when people adopt their recommendations and show progress. That will be difficult for the nation's governors in this case, since you [NAYRE] were promoting year-round education long before we came upon the idea. Nevertheless, you may hear one or more of us claim credit. Try not to think of it as piracy; it's really flattery." (13)
Staff in Schwinden's office told a member of an Oregon year-round school task force that Ballinger essentially wrote the recommendation on year-round school in the widely publicized and circulated national governors' report.
After selling year-round education to the governors, the year-round school organization moved quickly to change itself from a loose-knit association to an advocacy group. It began with a name change in September 1986 to the National Association FOR Year-Round Education. Then it began operating as a not-for-profit in 1987. Four years later, the new group would form the NAYRE Education Foundation, allowing it to lobby state legislatures for passage of year-round school enabling laws.
Many business and political leaders latched onto the year-round concept following the glowing review in the national governor's report. Among them was the charismatic auto industry chief, Lee Iacocca.
Another business leader Gov. Thomas Kean of New Jersey, a
close friend of Alexander, was already looking at year-round schools
at the urging of his appointed education staff (14), which included Walter
McCarroll. McCarroll would later serve as an assistant to Florida
Education Commissioner Betty Castor, who launched a new round of
year-round school initiatives in 1987, even though a decade earlier the
state had bad experiences with the quarter system, a version of a
year-round calendar that was eventually abandoned.(15) [McCarroll
later became a vice president for Chris Whittle's Edison Project, a
for-profit school management firm that was able to tap more funds
from states, and increase profit margins, by using an expanded
Helped the YRS Movement
First, schools were facing severe funding shortages as a
result of taxpayer revolts inspired by the passage of Proposition 13 in
California. California, with its high property prices and taxing
restrictions that limit the ability to meet demands for classroom space,
has housed the majority of the nation's year-round schools since the
mid-1970s. (17) California schools, not coincidentally, have also ranked near
the bottom in reading and other measures of academic achievement of its
students. So much for the learning loss benefits claimed by year-round
school promoters. As astutely observed by Maryland attorney Robert
Rosenfeld in his paper submitted in opposition to year-round school:
Third, pressures from the newly emerging technology companies and the venture capitalists who funded them, where forcing schools to shift scarce education time and resources, as well as scarce classroom space, toward computer instruction to prepare children for the coming Information Age. The squeeze forced school districts to seek ways of using school buildings, instructional time and resources more efficiently. (21)
The pressures in the 1970s and 1980s for more efficiency and better performance from schools created the right climate for the marketers of the year-round school concept.
On paper, at least, year-round school looks promising. But what looks good in theory doesn't necessarily work in practice, as is evident in the following account on these Web pages.
The main beneficiaries of calendar change appear to be the
year-round school consultants who charge as much as $1,700 a day to school
districts willing to waste more time and money. (22)
References & Notes
(1) Hermansen, Kenneth L. and Gove, James. The Year-Round School: The 45-15 Breakthrough, Linnet Books, Hamden, Conn., 1971. Pages 8-17.
(2) National Education Association, Research Division, The all-Year School, NEA Research Memorandum, 1958-59, Washington, D.C., Page 4.
(3) Hermansen & Gove (1971), Pages 19-23.
(4) Hermansen & Gove (1971), Page 57.
(5) Telephone interviews by Billee Bussard with James Bingle, form Valley View School Board member and NAYRE organization historian, August 1995; and Kenneth L. Hermansen, winter, 1996.
(6) Hermansen & Gove (1971), Page 50-51.
(7) Letter by Dr. John D. McLain to Marta Dimarcantoni, secretary People for Responsible Education Planning, Orlando, Fla., March 30, 1990.
(8) Hermansen & Gove (1971), Page 51.
(9) Address by Dr. John D. McLain to the Chrysler Education Committee, July 9, 1990. (Copy was provided to Billee Bussard by McLain's widow.)
(10) Letter by McLain, March 30, 1990.
(11) McLain (July 9, 1990). Address to Chrysler Education Committee.
(12) McLain (July 9, 1990). Address to Chrysler Education Committee.
(13) The Year-Rounder, Newsletter (August 1988) of the National Association For Year-Round Education, "Special Feature" Remarks of of. Ted Schwinden at the Annual Meeting of NAYRE, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 1988," Pages 3-4.
(14) Telephone interview by Billee Bussard with Marla Ucelli, former education adviser to Gov. Thomas Kean.
(15) Interview by Billee Bussard with Walter McCarroll.
(16) Hermansen & Gove (1971), Page 37.
(17) Information drawn from review of several years of the National Reference Directory of year-Round Education Programs produced by NAYRE.
(18) Rosenfeld, Robert, "Memorandum in Opposition to Year-Round Schools" submitted to the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education, Dec. 22, 1993, Page 53.
(19) "A Nation At Risk," National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983.
(20) See specifically: "American's Choice: High Skills or Low Wages," National Center on Education and the Economy, June 1990; also reports by The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, U.S. Department of Labor, "Learning A Living: A Blueprint for High Performance," 1991.
(21) A review of news stories in early 1980 reveals the financial problems and falling stock prices of computer makers and their attempts to make computer instruction part of the school curriculum.
(22) Copy of Agreement for Special Instructional Services: State of Maine, Department of Education, payment (August 30, 1993) for 1 day presentation at YR Education Task Force conference, Portland, Maine, to Stan Jordan, Jacksonville, Fla., (Duval County School Board member) for $1,700.
Were They Thinking?
Watch for this posting soon with some of the theories on education and learning embraced by leaders of year-round school reforms.
Now is especially not the time to waste our school district's valuable resources on a gimmick like this. We are facing the very real crisis brought about by Measure 51.
Teachers are being fired and damaging changes are being forced on our schools. Year-round school is an issue that bitterly divides communities. In some cases, it forces replacement of school board members and school superintendents. It turns neighbor against neighbor.
We need to stand together just now, not divide over a change we don't need.
The excuse I have heard for bringing up this subject at this time is that House Bill No. 3565 will be requiring us to add days to our school calendar. This may never happen (because the money is not there) but even if it does the law does not require us to add days until the 1996-97 school year. How many days we will need to add has yet to be determined by the State Board of Education because some will be used for teacher training, curriculum development and other non-student activities.
I believe that year-round school is a gimmick, tempting to educators
who feel they need to show they're DOING SOMETHING to improve schools. In
fact, it is merely a "tinkering around the edges" instead of
serious changes to the central structure of school (Changes that
really make a difference have to do with the student/teacher relationship,
the curriculum, etc.) If you talk to sophisticated researchers in the
field of education, they will tell you that year-round school is "not
a hot topic."
If you got a a NAYRE convention, you will come away with the feeling that the whole nation is just about to go to a year-round calendar. Actually, less than 2 percent of the nation's 110,000 schools have bought into the idea. These 2 percent are predominantly found in the SUNBELT, in areas of high population growth and low income. A great deal of them are in areas with large immigrant, non-English-speaking populations. Most year-round schools are multi-tracks, converted for the purpose of housing more students for less money.
Two thirds [of year-round schools] are in California (mostly southern California). (A California law provides incentives for year-round schools in that state and demands penalties from "traditional Calendar" school districts.) It is interesting to note that California has a huge number of private schools (3,839) to which the wealthy and middle class have fled, and barely any of these are year-round (about 7). In fact, among the 22,000 private schools throughout the nation, only about 22 are year-round. This proves that WHEN PARENTS HAVE A CHOICE, THEY DO NOT CHOOSE YEAR-ROUND SCHOOLS!
Many districts that formerly had year-round schools have returned to the traditional calendar. Others have rejected the idea after careful study. I have a folder of newspaper articles about many of those districts. Some noteworthy ones include:
Other recent examples include: Houston, Texas; Jefferson County, Colorado; Prince William County, Virginia; Dade and Pasco counties in Florida; Cache County in Utah; Bethel, Washington, etc. Those in Oregon include: Canby, Gresham, Molalla, Damascus and six Portland schools.
Advocates of year-round school claim that student forget less with shorter breaks in the school calendar and that teachers need less review time when student return to school. One would suppose that all this translates into greater academic achievement for students ---but this is not so.
I looked into the NAYRE Directory to find the Top 10 Year-Round Districts in the country (the ones with the most year-round schools). I called up ALL 10 of them and spoke with the people who do Student Assessment. (I spoke to the people in some smaller districts as well.) NOT ONE OF THESE STUDENT ASSESSMENT PEOPLE COULD SAY THAT YEAR-ROUND SCHOOL IMPROVED ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT! I attach a list of these people, along with their comments and their addresses and phone numbers.
To make a case for improved academic achievement, the NAYRE distributes questionable reports of test score comparisons. Two such reports are in our "summer reading" packets:
It is important when examining the concept of year-round school to gather information from various sources. (It should ot all come from the NAYRE and their consultants.) It is also important that the information be substantiated and just just "opinion." (I am amazed at how often professional educators will take something on faith or read opinion pieces and accept them as factual information.)
Other Myths About Year-Round
In Los Angeles, 200 or so schools were forced to become multi-track year-round due to overcrowding. they complained that ti was unfair that they had to go to school in the summer and the others didn't--so the remaining 543 schools were put on a single-track year-round calendar. (It is these single-track schools that just voted to return to the "traditional" calendar.)
In school district that have multi-track elementary schools, you often will find single-track middle and high schools. (Multi-track middle and high schools have too many problems, but a "common calendar is desired.")
Some times schools convert to YR single-track to make the year-round concept attractive to the voters: In Texas, the State Legislature has bought in the idea of "not spending money to build new schools." They are trying to make the concept of year-round schooling look good so they started out with some air-conditioned, well-financed single-track schools. Later, they with hit the state with multi-tracks.
Some districts go to year-round single-track schools to accommodate migrant workers. These populations are away from school for months at a time, so the district creates a calendar that has school breaks during the time they are away. In this way, they don't miss school.
Myth No. 2: "Intersessions
are the ONLY WAY to provide 'timely remediation' to students
who fall behind."
As far as using intersession for enrichment programs, Corvallis already has in place a fine after-school enrichment program. Summers could also be used for this purpose.
It is important to note that if Oregon eventually goes to the 220-day-ayear calendar mandated by HB 3565, there will be hardly any time available for interesessions at all.
Myth No. 3: "Attendance
improves on the year-round calendar."
Myth No. 4: "Crime
and Vandalism are lessened with the year-round calendar."
Myth No. 5:
"Day care is NOT a problem with year-round school."
Disadvantages of Year Round
2. Summer vacation would be shortened and summer activities would be
limited .These activities include: many forms of outdoor recreation,
summer jobs for students and teachers, visits to relatives in other areas
(including shared-custody visits), summer schools for students and
teachers, outdoor neighborhood school playground programs, and many
3. Vacation would come in dips and drabs. Students wouldn't get the long stretch of stress-free time away from school. During the school year, a student is never free from the authority or demands of teachers and administrators. Over the long summer vacation, a child can re-establish his bonds with his family. He can also learn to form new relationships with hobbies, people, sports, etc. He can use the long summer stretch to invent, create and imagine. Most of all, he can just be a kid again. I believe it is this sort of opportunity that we allow our children in the United States that makes us such a creative nation.
4. I am attaching articles form the Gazette-Times in which various other Corvallis parents and students have noted additional disadvantages of year-round school.
Who Will Decide?
If the final recommendation of our Task Force results in any sort of dramatic change to the school calendar,, the "way of life" of the people of this community would be effected. For this reason, the people must be allowed to vote on it.
If any sort of radical change is proposed (such as cutting out summer vacation in half, or worse) I do not feel this would be under the jurisdiction of our school board. Our summer-long school vacation is a tradition that has gone on for over a hundred years. It has been the purview of the families of this community. They are the only ones who can ethically vote to dramatically change it.