“Americans cherish the notion of summer as a time of relaxation and fun, but it comes at a heavy cost to poor students and the schools that serve them,” wrote Jeff Smink in a New York Times editorial. Today’s action by Governor Larry Hogan creates an 11-week instructional gap for students – and hurts students who we are most obligated to help.
In starting school after Labor Day, and ending school no later than June 15, Governor Hogan has effectively created the longest break in instruction we’ve had in Montgomery County in decades. This comes at a time when our superintendent is leading the work to close opportunity gaps for students in poverty. The executive order issued today will complicate that work for families who are struggling to pay the bills, and for whom summer presents a myriad of challenges for their precious children.
A longer summer vacation will produce greater losses in mathematics and reading, and those losses will be amplified for children in poverty. A longer summer vacation means less access to breakfast and lunch we provide to students while they are in school. And a longer summer vacation exacerbates the divide in opportunities created by poverty. At a time when our moral and economic obligation is to the students who need us most, the Governor has said the economic obligation to business trumps our kids.
I understand that when many of us were growing up, starting schools after Labor Day and finishing up in early June was the expectation, but we no longer live in those times. The high stakes accountability of a battery of tests in May (none of which can be moved) means that we will now have fewer weeks of instruction prior to those assessments. The needs of our children in this community are growing each year, and we are all fighting to meet those needs. Today on the boardwalk in Ocean City, as we continued that work in our classrooms, the Governor just made our jobs much harder.
Christopher Lloyd, NBCT