Students at Polytechnic, Sun Valley and Arleta started the 2011-12 school year today, August 5. This “Balanced Traditional Calendar” starts a week and a half earlier than the “Early Start” calendar.

The “balanced” approach has two 90-day semesters with a seven-week break in the winter. Years ago, my son spent a single year in a year-round school, and had the entire month of January off. And while it originally seemed great to be able to visit every attraction, museum, or relative, it quickly became challenge with the rainiest months on record. Or for families that work, it’s a challenge to find child care. The entire building project that LAUSD has undertaken was to get the students off a year-round calendar. But the students at the East Valley campuses seem ok with going back, and school officials use the breaks for intervention to keep kids from failing. Administrators like to mention that students from the East Valley are less likely to visit museums or other enrichment that other area families utilize over the summer. I’d rather see them finding ways to ship the kids to the Science Center or the Hollywood Bowl than simply jump into another school year.

I’m a firm believer that school communities should be able to adopt the calendar that they want. If they want to start in January and be done before Halloween, it doesn’t bother me. But it bugs me that these calendars are being touted as better, stronger, (and if they add faster, I’ll call them the bionic calendars) without any real stats to back them up. August features some of our hottest days, and the days are still long, so the heat is an issue. Many summer programs–camps, internships, etc.–are still going. I’d much rather lose the third week at Christmas. I don’t want my kids starting school in the middle of August.

I’m sure to have more to rant about when the Early Start kids go back on the 15th.

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