RADIA: BC kids need shorter holidays and more school days

FACE TO FACE: Is year-round schooling the way to go in British Columbia?

If you’re a parent of a school-aged child, you’re probably not looking forward to the next two months as much as your kids are.

For most parents, a two-month summer vacation means a significant hit to the pocketbook and weeks of unrelenting stress and aggravation.

You’ve got to find affordable child care, you’ve got to find things to keep your children stimulated and you have to make sure your kids don’t forget what they’ve learned in school.

I remember when I was in school, my teacher would spend the first month of each new school year re-teaching us what we forgot over the summer.

Let’s face it, a two-month break is good for teachers but it’s too long for students and parents.

That’s why I applaud the BC Liberals’ introduction of Bill 36, which would allow school boards to decide if they want to eliminate the standard school calendar and allow for a more balanced schedule.

Under the proposed legislation, schools would still have approximately 193 days of in-class instruction but districts would have the option of spreading them out. So instead of two months off in the summer, schools could have a longer spring break or Christmas break.

The traditional school calendar, with its long summer break, is based on an outdated agrarian timetable from a time when children were needed on the family farm to harvest crops. There’s no reason to maintain the same archaic schedule now.

If I were king for the day, I would even go a step further.

At the risk of sounding like a cranky old fart, I think kids these days should spend more time in the classroom and less time in front of their television sets or playing Nintendo Wii and Xbox.

Why not extend the school year beyond the current 193 days to 215 days or more?

Students are in class, for example, 243 days in Japan, 240 days in Germany, 220 days in South Korea and 216 days in Israel.

By the time Japanese teens have completed 12th grade, they would have spent the equivalent of at least two more years in school than their Canadian counterparts.

Sorry, kids, my vote is for more school and a shorter summer holiday.

You’ll thank me when you’re older.

Andy Radia is a Coquitlam resident and political columnist who writes for Yahoo! Canada News and Vancouver View Magazine. He has been politically active in the Tri-Cities, having been involved with election campaigns at all three levels of government, including running for Coquitlam city council in 2005.


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