There is an issue troubling our education system: the school schedule.
The high school start and stop dates, in particular, don’t work for students and need to be changed. Students taking both college and high school classes want to challenge themselves, but the different calendars for high school and colleges create an obstacle to their aspirations.
Currently, students usually start school around August 25th and end around June 12th. The first semester ends in January, which means exams are held after Christmas break. This creates issues when it comes time for students to take their exams, because they are coming back from a break with only a week or two to review a whole semester worth of material.
It also creates issues for students who wants to take college classes at the local community college for half the day and high school classes the other half of the day. The calendars for the two schools does not line up. College courses begin in the beginning of August and end around the end of May.
The college schedule works better since the first semester and the exams end before Christmas break. This way, students do not have to stress during their time off and can just prepare for a new semester. That makes a lot more sense.
The problem for the students taking both high school and college classes is this timing. While preparing for exams at high school, they are working hard on daily college homework. While studying for college exams, they are up late finishing high school homework. Even more problematic, while taking exams at the community college, you are late for high school classes. And while taking exams at high school you miss your college classes.
Nothing works out.
Another issue is trying to plan any kind of trip — whether educational or a vacation. March 29 was Orange County’s public school system’s spring break. For Durham Tech and Alamance Community College, this is not a break. But college campus tours take place during high school spring break and, for me, it was the only chance I had to visit my prospective colleges. I had to miss two classes at Alamance Community College because the two calendars do not line up.
And then there’s high school sports. Practice for fall sports start August 1. I am a varsity cheerleader at Orange High School. Our summer practices are usually during the day, when just about everybody can come. They are some of the best practices because we have more time and no one is tired from the school day. The only people who can’t come are those taking college courses. Practices overlap with the classes and students have to choose whether they want to miss school or miss practice.
Something has to change. Local school systems need more flexibility to design a schedule that works for their students.
If the public schools are all about a positive educational experience, then we need schedules that accommodate the many ways in which students learn today. We are stuck in a 20th century school system.
Public education must keep up.