Going to Mexico or to Iowa

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“Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go.”

Christmas is drawing near and my classes are emptying. All across America, classes are emptying. It’s very common for parents to pull kids out to go back to Mexico for Christmas break and an extra week or two (or even more!) on either side of vacation. It’s possible to catch up the missing math and English but it hardly ever happens. The math especially disappears, never to be recovered.

Eduhonesty: We let them go too easily. We ought to be sending regular letters reminding parents of the academic cost of these long vacations, repeat reminders before plane reservations are made.

“It’s just a few days,” parents will say.

Many students can spare those days, too. The problem is that we don’t always know which students can successfully sacrifice that snippet of education. We also send a message with those extended vacations: You can take extra time off to play when it suits you. This is poor preparation for the adult world, where such efforts often end with demands to clear out your desk and leave the building for good.

For parents: Sometimes there’s no choice and children have to miss school. But a week of missing math can make a kid’s whole year miserable if it’s the wrong week. Lost points from that week can pull a grade down, turning an “A” into a “B” or a “C” into a “D.” In the worst case, a student may end up repeating a course when lost points resulted in an “F” in the endgame. Overall, vacations that take children out of school should be avoided.