In November Columbia Public Schools (CPS) designates one day off for a teacher work day, and one for teacher conferences. This year, as is true every other year, CPS also had a day off for the election.
Later in the month, CPS gives students and faculty three days out of school — not including the weekend — for Thanksgiving break. The week of Thanksgiving for those in CPS consists of two days where school is in session, and the last three of the weekday free.
Two days are for teacher work/conferences during the month of November, and two open days prevent Thanksgiving week from being completely free. The solution to these seemingly extra and unnecessary days looks to be as simple as moving the teacher work/conference days to the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break.
If switching the work days were to occur, students would not have to miss school on those two days because of travel as they would have four extra days to get on the road. This would make the attendance rate higher, as parents would not be excusing their children out of school to visit friends or family. A higher attendance rate for public schools means a higher income for the school district. When the rate dropped 9 or 10 percent in one California school district, the schools lost more than $10,000 in funding. As public schools gain income from attendance rates, the simple solution to the large drop in income, for CPS’ schedule, would be to move the teacher work days to Thanksgiving week.
In addition to a positive increase financially, having an earlier start to Thanksgiving break would prove to be beneficial to both students and teachers, as there would be less late work or work to be made up. At RBHS, College Algebra, Calculus and Statistics all scheduled tests for these two days. Additionally, Advanced Placement (AP) Biology and AP Government also scheduled exams on these days. With students missing for family time, the students either have to learn the content faster to take it before break or wait until after break and re-learn the curriculum after a week away.
Not only would the student have to rework their schedule, but the teacher would have to juggle who is taking the test early or late, and when. Simply switching around the November out-of-session dates would save students and teachers alike from frustration and would also make the lives of the attendance secretaries easier and more organized.
By confronting CPS administration and bringing ideas to reschedule to open school board meetings, the dates of which are on the CPS websites, members of the community can pave way to a more productive week of thankfulness and family time. The CPS Calendar Committee approves the succeeding year’s schedule in the early winter of the preceding year, so the best time for students to bring new ideas to the committee would be in October or November. The rescheduling of existing days off in November has significant positives for all those involved in public school, without altering the 3 days in November students have off of school or any learning involved.
Do you think CPS should change the schedule of Thanksgiving Week?