« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Maurice Brandt, Fargo, Published August 31 2013

Letter: September school start not radical

So, according to Fargo School Board member Rusty Papachek, delaying the start of school until the day after Labor Day would make it hard to get the required number of days in before Memorial Day. Keep in mind, I graduated high school in 1968, so, undoubtedly, things have changed since then, but I am having a hard time understanding what is going on.

My classmates and I started after Labor Day and were done by Memorial Day. In between, we got two weeks off for Christmas/New Years, Thanksgiving Day and the day after it off, Good Friday and Easter Monday off and a three-day break when our teachers had their convention. We didn’t miss many days for blizzards because our superintendent, L.E. Berger, lived right across the street from the high school and if he could look out his window and see the school, we went. Obviously though, there was a storm day here and there.

Maybe part of the problem is all the days off taken now for parent/teacher conferences, which I’ve never understood. Those conferences used to take place in the evenings, not during the day when kids were supposed to be in school. Perhaps teachers’ unions have had something to do with that decision, I don’t know.

I saw in the article about all this in the Aug. 21 Forum that sports scheduling is partly to blame. Silly me, I thought education was the main reason for kids attending school. I also thought sports took a back seat to academics. Guess I am really behind the times.

The funny thing about all of this is, I think the “old days” turned out better-prepared students. Case in point: For several years, I was a field training officer at the Fargo Police Department, so part of my job was to correct mistakes in reports written by the new officers I was training. I completed only one year of college, but I still wrote better than many of the police recruits, who all had college degrees. In fact, I was once told to quit using a red pencil to highlight mistakes in these reports because there were so many of them it was affecting the self-esteem of the recruits. Apparently, punctuation, sentence structure, where to start a paragraph, capitalization, etc. weren’t being taught anymore.

I don’t know when, but I do know somewhere along the way, it became almost unheard of for any student to not be passed through to the next grade, regardless of the level of learning. The reason? Same reason I was told to quit using a red pencil. Flunking a student (oops, politically incorrect language there) hurt their self-esteem. Better to let them advance to the next grade even if they weren’t prepared. Thus, we end up with people graduating from high schools and colleges who can’t read above third-grade level and can’t write a paper that isn’t full of errors. Sad.

Perhaps a partial turn back of the clock wouldn’t be a bad idea in this case? New ways aren’t always better.