I was raised in Cabarrus County for most of my life, and most of our public schools were more traditional, where students had a three-month summer break. I was surprised when I arrived at NC State that some Wake County schools were year-round. At first, I thought this was a neat concept, as it could help allow students to retain information they would lose over summer break. But after doing some research, it seems that the year-round school system is incredibly flawed.
The main reason why certain schools within Wake are year-round schools has to deal with population. Business Insider reported that Wake schools have seen a dramatic increase in student attendance from 1995 to 2007. Because building a new school would be too expensive, they started implemented a track system, meaning some students are in class while others are on break.
However, the year-round system is a major inconvenience to both students and parents. In addition, the advantages of a year-round system are dubious at best. So, Wake County should dismiss year-round schools and implement a traditional calendar into their curriculum.
One of the supposed advantages of a year-round system is that students would retain information easier. Since students on a regular calendar are absent from school for three months, they might be able to retain some of the skills they have learned. However, there aren’t any studies that suggest that this is the case.
A study conducted by Elon University found no evidence that suggest that year-round schools have higher levels of student achievement compared to normal schools. Considering that students’ education are at stake, Wake schools should not put their faith into a myth that hasn’t been proven.
Another problem with year-round schools is that it can be very difficult for parents to find childcare. Since over 60% of parents work in the United States, they have to schedule a time for work and their kids. However, when students at a year-round school are constantly off for three weeks at a time, it can be difficult for parents to find someone that can look after their kids.
For example, my parents had very busy schedules, and can’t take time off freely. If I were to go to a year-round school, they would be constantly stressed out because they would be scrambling to find someone to look after me. Thankfully, because the Cabarrus County schools operated on a traditional calendar system, and they were able to find a program for me to attend over the summer.
Not all parents in Wake County have flexible schedules, and it can be difficult to find someone or a program to look after their children. Switching all schools to a traditional calendar system can help parents find time or programs to look after their children on break.
Last but not least, year-round schools can disrupt opportunities for students. When students have three months off of school they use this time to experience new things or gain new skills. Some students use this time to get a job, go to a summer camp, or travel the world. These are valuable experiences that can help students grow and have a better understanding of the world.
However, with a three year sporadic break, it denies students these opportunities. Students can’t just work for only three weeks at a time, and most students can’t leave the country or attend a summer camp if they are off for a few weeks at a time. Even if year-round schools allow students to retain information, they are denying the experiences that can help students grow and prepare themselves for the real world.
Interestingly, student enrollment for Wake County has seen a decrease in student enrollment. If this trend continues, then it should be possible for all public schools to transition to a traditional calendar system in the near future. If that is not the case, Wake should still transition to a semester-based system. Even if it means building new schools, it can ensure that students can have other educational opportunities and parents won’t have to worry as much. Wake County needs to suspend year-round schools and enroll in a traditional calendar system.