Forget school: Summer break is what’s too easy

While art, music, and history tend to get the headlines when they’re pushed out in favor of more math and reading instruction, the CDC reports that physical education is being cut nationwide too, despite a genuine obesity epidemic. When there’s still plenty of fat to be found in education budgets, savings gleaned from narrowing the curriculum carry too high a cost.

While charter schools may soon enroll more students than district schools in D.C., charter growth in surrounding areas remains mired by suburban complacency and fears over lost funding for district schools. All of which misses the point: Even if the suburban schools are great (a shaky assumption), why wouldn’t students benefit from a broader range of options and schools competing for their attendance?

The Texas GOP has been catching flak (and appropriately so) for adding opposition to “critical thinking” skills to its 2012 platform because they have the “purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” There are plenty of sound pedagogical reasons to oppose weak curricula focused on hard-to-define and harder-to-apply “critical thinking” skills: With any luck we can focus on those rather than the nonsense emanating from the Lone Star State.

News flash: Sequestration would stink for schools, according to a pair of reports by the NEA and AASA. (Although not everyone would shed tears if the teaching force was trimmed significantly, as the union projects will happen if Congress can’t make a budget deal.) Still, Gadfly was encouraged that 54 percent of the districts AASA surveyed budgeted for federal cuts—perhaps districts will find ways to thrive with the “new normal” of education spending after all.

The Center for American Progress reports that many kids find their classes too easy, this week’s reminder of how much rides on effective implementation of the more-rigorous Common Core standards in coming years.

For decades, most students went to great lengths to avoid summer school, but now districts nationwide are taking on summer-learning loss by offering programs that blend education and recreation. A fine stop gap, sure, but why not simply rearrange the year to prevent such unnecessarily long breaks in the first place?

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