LETTER: 10-month school year is archaic

Letter-writer, education consultant and former assistant deputy minister Jim Dueck raises a couple of good points ...

Letter-writer, education consultant and former assistant deputy minister Jim Dueck raises a couple of good points (“Semester system needed,” The News, Aug. 5) but fails to suggest a much more fair way of learning for our children.

Yes, our school system is causing our students to fall behind, retained (a fancy term for having to repeat an entire year) or socially promoted. His research and extensive explanation reveals that the education system needs to adopt a semester system to prevent students from being penalized. But that is not the way to improve the school system.

Our current schooling model wastes tax dollars, by the millions, due to the current form – age, and not ability – of assessing student readiness to enter the system.

And, secondly, and far more important, by retaining the archaic agrarian-based system of a 10-month school year.

It is that which needs to be fixed, from kindergarten to post-graduate levels at university throughout the province – and the provincial government, school districts and post-secondary institutes need to examine the overwhelming benefits of year-round education both pedagogically and financially.

We need to more seriously review and assess the benefits of a year-round educational system that minimizes the length of time that students are out of school, as eight to 12 weeks actually reduces the real teaching period down to eight months and not 10.

Such a system would eliminate the issue that Dueck raises – students being born before Jan.  1 and those after that date and how entry into the system can affect their ability to learn. Entry must be premised on ability and not age and could happen at any time of the year’s four quarters.

Our multi-million dollar schools sit empty for two to nearly three months, and universities and other post-secondary institutes operate at 30 per cent student attendance for up to four months while administrative costs still function on a 12-month basis – something I have learned while visiting UFV in July.

Eight to 12 weeks is too long for parents who, in many cases, have to work to provide shelter, food and clothing what with the exorbitant cost of housing and day care to also have to take care of children under 12. For high school students, the fall or Christmas retail season is by far a better time to work as most retailers make more than 50 of their annual revenue during that period.

Our provincial government, all educational institutes and all school boards need to look at year-round education with a fresh eye and put aside the complaints of a small group of vocal opponents whose criticisms can be shot down in a public debate.

G.E. MacDonell

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