Why not have school all year?

Are you an advocate of increasing the length of the school year? Seems like we may be one of the only countries that give our students and teachers so much time off. Wonder why we do it since the reasons for taking the summer off (i.e. farm work and no a/c in hot weather) no longer exist. Consider these points from the Year Round School Wiki:
  • 3,181 public schools in the United States today are on a year-round schedule.
  • Of the 2.3 million students enrolled in year round schools during the 2002-03 school year, 60% attend schools in California.
  • Year-round schooling has been present from the 1800s to the present first appearing in urban areas, because they were not tied to the agriculture cycle
  • The single track schedule is the most prominent of the three types. These schools do not add additional days to their school year, but instead they incorporate shorter breaks throughout the year.
  • A multitrack schedule divides students into multiple tracks so that one group goes to school while another group takes vacation.
  • The extended year schedule can act as either a single track or multitrack, but it adds 15 to 20 days to the total school year. President of the United States Barack Obama has called for school administrations to lengthen school years in order to compete with students worldwide.
  • Students who attend year-round school say that their calendars are more balanced than their peers who have a typical school calendar.
  • Students who attend year-round schools typically do as well as or slightly better in school than their peers who attend a traditionally scheduled school.
  • Studies show that even though around 50% of parents are in favor of the year-round schedule before it is implemented, almost 80% are in favor of it after the first year.
  • If schools are open for longer the operating and maintenance costs may increase up to 10 percent.
  • Research suggests year-round schools have positive effects on students who are at risk for academic problems, including those from underprivileged backgrounds and those who are poor performers in school.
  • Students with attention learning disabilities may experience difficulties with longer school days.
  • Younger elementary students who are not psychologically fully developed may not see any additional benefit to extended days.
  • Students that attend year round schooling may miss out on experiences such as summer camps.
  • Many people argue that students get bored during summer vacations, when there is much less activity and stimulation, so attending school for a year would be a benefit to them.
All of that said I think that the USA will never change in this area for this reason stated in the wiki:
"Year-round school would be changing the American custom of summer vacation, which would not be easy to do. Changing a people’s customs is never an easy thing to do and normally takes time for a population to adjust or take to a change in a major custom."
What do you think? Will America ever embrace having school all year? Is it just too hard for us to change our ways?


  1. I homeschool, but the schools around us have done both. Right now our township is doing a modified year round, with a shortened summer vacation and a two week fall, winter, and spring break. I scheduled our year to be more traditional this time, but I'm seriously considering a year-round program for us next year.

    I find that the two big problems with a loooong summer is boredom and having to review quite a bit when resuming. I like the idea of a "summer" but perhaps only 4-6 weeks.

    1. Good feedback Ma. Thanks for adding to the discussion from a homeschooling perspective.

  2. When I was in Nebraska, this was debated quite a bit. The district I lived it was seriously considering it, because the numbers showed that if they did they could add several teaching jobs because of the money it would save.

    However, the schedule would require several two weeks breaks throughout the year. my concern was with the parents who both worth an d have younger children. How do they find childcare during those weeks? Their jobs don't permit taking that many weeks off during the year. You get a week or two at best. The district simply had too many blue collar families, both with jobs, that would put a very unfair burden on them. Plus there is the issue of making sure that all the "State" events line up with the other schools' schedule. State basketball, football, track music, etc, since not all the schools would be on the year-long schedule.

    Arizona was working towards that until recently (which makes NO SENSE considering how hot it is in the summertime. imagine the A/C bills!). They started offering a week-long Fall break and a week-long Spring Break, plus several half days on Fridays and a longer Christmas break. This results in a school year that goes until the end of this week and starts back up the first week of August. They've since changed their minds, and now they are stuck with this weird schedule.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Stephanie! The issue is definitely complicated and a lot of changes would be needed to make it happen. Here is a note from an Australian FB friend on the topic:

      "No system is perfect, but we think ours is pretty reasonable! High schools are much more academic institutions than The American version -- sport and social activities play very minor roles (except for a few private schools). Most kids extra-curricular activities are arranged on a non-school basis (sports clubs, music teachers etc). Schools all wear uniforms, and something like 20% of state schools are single sex. At the end of Year 12 everybody sits state-wide external exams -- and the marks/ rankings for that are the determinants of university entrance. I have been told (but haven't seen it verified) that the Higher School Certificate is equal to the first 2 years of the American college system. This might help explain why, over here, most professional degrees (law, medicine etc are undergraduate degrees. That's probably way more information than you wanted!"

    2. See, now, as an artist, this really bothers me. While I do believe that school is primarily about academics (and should be) if I didn't have the opportunity to be in plays, compete in speech contests, play in band, sing, go to State Choir, be on the newspaper and yearbook staff, taking honors writing courses in the summer and the like, my childhood would've been pretty miserable. I wasn't that great at school, but writing, music and theater I excelled at. And THOSE are the things I'm using in my career almost every day. The academics I excelled at (philosophy, theology, educational theory) weren't offered in a public school and I lived in a place where no private schools were available unless my family picked up and moved 2 hours away. It wasn't until I weren't to college and grad school that I excelled in academics.

      Plus, I couldn't figure out what i wanted to do with the rest of my life at age 21, so I can't imagine a system like the one in Australia having to do it when I'm 14. We simply don't know ourselves well enough, and could very possibly end up in a career that while we may do well, makes us miserable.

      So maybe that system is successful in an academic way, but I would be more concerned with finding out the success of the person's emotional health. Because not everyone fits into a mold of law, medicine, or business as something they can and should do for the rest of their lives. It makes them far less of a complete person, and can rob them of so much joy.

      In the words of Richard Dreyfus in Mr. Hollands Opus "Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want, Gene. Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about."

      Ok, I'm stepping off my soapbox now.

    3. Thanks for such great feedback Stephanie! One exception I might offer is the dominance of sports (mainly football and basketball) in our public school system - and I am not speaking of the intramural variety. :)


I love to get comments and usually respond. So come back to see my reply. You can click here to see my comment policy.