Education Chief Favors Longer School Year
08/26/11 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel  Download MP3
(Host) As the new school year begins in many parts of Vermont, Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca questions why the state continues to maintain "an outdated school calendar."
As VPR's Bob Kinzel reports, the commissioner thinks doing away with a long summer vacation would be good for many students.
(Kinzel) It's an idea that's being tried out in several parts of the country. Instead of having a ten week summer vacation, students would attend school on a year round basis with several smaller breaks.
Education commissioner Armando Vilaseca thinks this approach makes a lot of sense.
(Vilaseca) "Our school calendar is really an agrarian model - September to June, 8 to 3, everything else in our society has changed except for that. Many, many students lose some valuable learning during the summer especially those kids who are struggling readers or are struggling in math they lose so much more in the summer than maybe other kids do that they continually fall further behind."
(Kinzel) And Vilaseca believes most obstacles to the plan could be overcome.
(Vilaseca) "We've all been to school, so everybody's an expert on school and school calendar but we have to look at what's in the best interests of our kids and our country and is September to June the best model. Why couldn't we go 8 weeks on 2 weeks off all year long...we know kids learn best in those sorts of blocks and that means all summer long."
(Kinzel) Vilaseca says the plan would require changes to teacher contracts but he thinks it would be possible to make these adjustments.
For VPR News, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.