The December issue of the Fairfax Voter, the newsletter of the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, features an article about the new school year and a panel discussion hosted by the Washington Post in September. The discussion was titled “Behind the Headlines: the State of Education in Fairfax County.” Topics covered included the budget, discipline policies, and school schedules. Here is an excerpt covering some scheduling issues:
The moderator of the panel, Post columnist Robert McCartney, read an email about the short day Mondays in elementary schools and its impact on working parents that stated “The early dismissal on Monday causes me to miss hours and wages.”
Dr. Garza answered, “How do we structure the school days and year? We have to consider Art, Music, P.E. Teachers do need time to work together and plan. Teacher expectations have increased, but the time is still the same from a century ago. We need more time.”
Kimberly Adams, president of the Fairfax Education Association, said, “Monday afternoons are critical for collaborative team planning – not only at the school, but across the county. We already have low teacher morale. We need the planning time.”
Steve Greenburg, president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, said that if teachers sacrifice planning and development time on Mondays, the quality of instruction could be jeopardized. He also said that early dismissal Mondays is not a sustainable model and that we need to look overall at how schools are scheduled. He said Fairfax should focus first on later start times.
Garza said she supports later high school start times. “In my former system, high schools started at 8:20 and elementary schools started a little earlier.” She noted that Fairfax is complicated because we have 395 square miles to coordinate and that people also have their routines. She said, however, “This issue has been debated since 1985. I am not that patient. We’ve got to decide this issue and be done with it.”
Source: Fairfax Voter, December 2013, p.3