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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Advocates of Later School Start Face Uphill Battle (Charge!)

I note with pessimism the movement by some Sioux Falls moms to push the first day of school back toward September. Rhonda Lockwood, Paige Honner, and other moms hope to gather over 3000 letters of support to present to the Sioux Falls school board by October. If that doesn't get them satisfaction, they say they'll petition for a public vote.

Note I didn't say disapproval: I'm all about starting school after Labor Day, as they do in Minnesota (where kids get higher ACT and SAT scores than South Dakota... not that standardized tests mean anything). I voted for Initiated Measure 3 in 2006, which would have mandated all South Dakota public schools start no earlier than August 31.

My pessimism comes from the reminder that Minnehaha County voters overwhelmingly rejected IM3, with 27659 ayes outweighed by 38235 nays (that's 58% saying no, more than the statewide nay rate of 57%).

Maybe the Sioux Falls moms can surprise me and rally a voting majority to their cause. But out of that same voter pool, they'll need to find 5288 voters—just about 1 in 7—who want a later school start date but voted against IM3 purely on ideological grounds of rejecting state control.

Again, don't read my pessimism as disapproval. In the face of an uphill battle, the proper response is, "Charge!!!"

Update 2009.09.28: Those Sioux Falls moms will even have to fight the President, who wants longer school days and longer school years. Sorry, Mr. President, even I can't ride with you on that one. Note (same article) that the wunderkinder in Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong all spend fewer hours in the classroom each year than our kids.

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