We have long been a proponent of Huron County attempting to find ways to benefit from the large tourism industry in Sandusky, especially in terms of economic development. However, a recent proposal by Ohio Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), approaches the issue in the wrong way.
Gardner has proposed a law that would prohibit schools from starting the year before Labor Day. He cites Cedar Point figures showing an increase of attendance from Michigan residents in the two weeks before Labor Day after that state enacted a school calendar similar to the one Gardner proposes.
The bill has little traction with local superintendents. Many school districts around the state already are forced to go several weeks into June in order to make up for calamity days. In fact, several schools in this area will be adding additional days in June thanks to the brutal cold and huge winter storm that hammered the area in February.
But, more importantly, the debate about starting dates misses the larger point. When considering the school calendar, officials should be finding more time for education, not tourism.
A study by the National Center of Education Statistics shows U.S. students perform below average in math and problem solving compared to other industrialized countries. One big difference between the U.S. primary education system and the international system time. Because most other countries have longer school days and years, teachers are able to spend more time on education and able to delve deeper into procedures, rather than just facts.
Year-round school might not be the right answer for U.S. students. But in an increasingly global economy, policy makers have an obligation to vigorously explore every option that can close the achievement gap. Irrelevant proposals, such as Gardner's, divert attention away from the more important debate.