Business took me to Indianapolis for a meeting on Thursday, July 30. Of the eight other meeting participants, four lived in Indiana, three lived in Georgia and one in Montana.
I learned that school was already in session for many schools of both Indiana and Georgia, four weeks prior to the start of classes for most Montana schools ... and six weeks before state law allows public schools to commence classes for students in Michigan.
These dramatic differences undermine any seriousness or sense of urgency in this state’s efforts to improve public education.
The scene that replays in my memory is of an all-district in-service day at a Michigan school district where the staff was busy in the cafeteria, while the students lounged outside the school and milled about the school halls, bored.
“Our kids are already here and ready to be in class,” the school superintendent told me; “but state law penalizes us if we dare to begin teaching them.”
I think of this as school sports teams and marching bands and cheerleaders are already hard at work this week honing their skills in extracurricular activities. Wouldn’t it be great if lawmakers would allow our students to be doing the same in academic classrooms?
If our students are lagging behind academically, it might have something to do with the fact that they start each year two or three laps behind kids in other states.