Battle lines will be drawn

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Even the suggestion of implementing year-round education naturally hits a wall in many communities. Where I live, the schools are working well. Most graduates will go to college and will be ready for college coursework. We crank out National Merit Finalists and Ivy League attendees.

Summers are exciting times in many households. Kids go off to camp or on fun family vacations. So revising the traditional nine-month agrarian calendar into a year-round calendar, allowing for more-continuous education with a shorter summer vacation and more frequent breaks during the periods of instruction — well, that mostly does not go over well with my neighbors. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, they’d say.

When I advocate for a longer school year, I recognize I am going up against formidable forces. Our problem is not that American education doesn’t work, our problem is that American education works much better in some locations than others — and the people who make American policy tend to live in districts with good schools. Reforming educational funding to create longer school years for disadvantaged children will not personally help these policymakers, except in the most abstract sense. In fact, reform will most likely take resources away from the districts in which they live.

Eduhonesty: In a nutshell, the people who decide educational policy live in areas with high-quality schools, areas that tend to have money. But that results in a real disincentive to reform educational funding. I think many test-based solutions to America’s educational ills may have been spawned directly from attempts to avoid touching our property-tax based funding system. For our leaders, it ain’t broke so maybe some of them would rather not fix it.

I don’t know how to push funding reform to the front of America’s school discussions. For one thing, testing and the Common Core have provided a huge distraction. I am certain, though, that we need to get school-funding reform off the academic backburner.

Zip code should not be destiny.