Under an executive order issued by Gov Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland, about a year ago, the day after Labor Day, today, was the first day of school for 22 of Maryland’s 24 public school districts, and he greeted students at Woodbridge Elementary School in Baltimore County, joined by State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon.
The executive order that the school year couldn’t start until the Tuesday after Labor Day caused some debate throughout the state, especially among school superintendents who claimed students would forget too much of what they had learned the previous year with an extended summer break and the effects of “summer slide.”
Yet the executive order was enormously popular among Marylanders, who this year have told newspapers and TV stations that they have generally enjoyed having the extra week or so to spend with their families over the summer.
The debate will continue, I’m sure, even though most people in the state see the executive order that lengthens the summer vacation (the school year still has to finish by June 15 each year) as a gift, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“I absolutely love starting after Labor Day,” the paper quoted Katie M Ries, a Baltimore County parent, as saying. “I grew up right outside of Ocean City, and never, ever started school before Labor Day. It’s un-American. With schools being so regimented and recess disappearing, kids need time to play and have unstructured time. That’s what summer is all about.”
Because schools still have to be in session for students for 180 days, chopping off the month of August has caused most of the school systems in the state to cut short the spring or winter break and to eliminate a few of the teacher-in-service days that were ordinarily scattered randomly throughout the school calendar.
“We had several varying non-student days in the past,” the Frederick News-Post quoted Giuseppe Di Monte, a principal at one of the elementary schools in Frederick County, as saying. “With this schedule we don’t have any of those. It’s much more consistent across the board.”
The extra summer also appears to have built up anticipation for the school year on the part of teachers, students, and parents.
“It just looked like everyone was so energized and ready for school to start this year,” the paper quoted fourth-grade teacher Ashley Topper as saying. “It was so great at the back-to-school night. So many kids come in and you already know them, so they’re giving you hugs and saying how excited they are.”