The Year-Round School Debate
Year-round school (YRS) episodically surfaces as a subject of school reform. Interestingly enough this is not a new topic of debate; however, the reasons for implementing the reform have changed some. Year-round schools do not require the children to increase the number of days they attend school, the days are just dispersed more evenly throughout the year.
As Hermansen (1971) states the concept of YRS has been around since at least 1840 when many major cities had school years ranging from forty-three to fifty weeks. These mostly industrialized cities had an enormous need for children to learn English. Attending school year-round was necessary for students to learn the English language and it was helpful for parents, both of whom often worked. This contrasted greatly to the rural one room school houses of this time where most of the schooling took place during the winter when the children were not needed to work the farms (Hermansen, 1971, p.9). As education became more of a priority for society “progressive reformers championed compulsory attendance laws while extending the abbreviated rural-driven short hours and days into a longer school day and year” (Cuban, 2008,p. 241). After compromising with the rural population during the late 1800’s lawmakers developed standards for the number of days that were legally required by the state. Eventually this developed into the traditional school year with a three-month summer break (Hermansen, 1971, p. 9-10). Many feel that this agrarian based school calendar is outdated for the society in which we live. It is widely accepted that the long summer break leads to “summer learning loss” and proponents of the YRS think that decreasing the length of the summer will help eliminate this problem.
There are three types of exceptions to the traditional school year calendar. First are Summer School programs that are offered on a mandatory or voluntary basis during some of the summer or all...