Many schools now start during the middle of August, as districts attempt to cram in as many weeks as possible before the state standardized exam. Weeks after that exam are often regarded as relatively useless. They don’t add points and administrators cannot rely on students to retain information from late spring for next year’s exam.
Eduhonesty: This represents another perfect example of the stacked deck that faces financially-disadvantaged American school districts. Many classrooms in my district reach eighty-plus degrees in August, September and even October. These same rooms may see similar temperatures during late April and May. I have had a rule in the past: Above eighty-five, we go outside if at all possible. From eighty to eighty-five, the same rule holds, but allowances can be made for quiz and testing needs.
Many August and September minutes are wasted in these classroom-saunas. Students are often glassy-eyed and whiny from the heat. (I’ve seen ambulances called for two of them over the years.) If we go outside, we lose transition minutes. Students are less attentive under trees. The girls complain about dirt and bugs. Some boys do too. Papers are blown into fields. My words may fly away, taken by the wind, as students chat, taking advantage of the lack of seating charts.
Districts with money and air-conditioning will not lose these late summer and early fall minutes. Their students will not be falling asleep in the afternoon, at least not en masse. Teachers will not need back-up lesson plans for days when in-class work proves impossible.
I just received an unexpected call about a teaching position in a middle-class area. Last spring’s heat can be added to other reasons why I interviewed for the position. That heat may figure into my acceptance if I receive an offer.