The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 31, 1998 · Page 56
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 56

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, May 31, 1998
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Page 56
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Should kids go to school year-round? NATIONAL FORUM Nearly 2 million students won't get this summer off. Smart idea, or senseless experiment? PRESS 1 F OR MOST OF the nation's 52 million schoolchildren, Monday — the first day of June — brings family vacation, summer jobs or just a nice long break. But not for all. About 1.8 million kids attend school year-round. And this summer, the number will rise along with the temperature as 180,000 join the ranks of school-bound students. The stakes are high, involving grades, money, child care, and how families plan their lives. Confusing the issue: There is no clear-cut answer to the question of whether attending school year-round improves academic performance. Parent Jan Anderson thinks it does. Her son, Andrew, is a sophomore at year- round Parry McCleur High School in Buena Vista, Va. "It's wonderful," she says. "Students get a lot more done there." Dell Renfroe, of Trion, Ga., disagrees. She says she has seen no difference in her children's school performance. "If anything, year- round school is more stressful because they are going to school in the summer when it is so hot," Renfroe says. "It's really hard trying to sit there and study when you know all of your friends are CALL NOW 1-800-446-8405 Yes. Students should attend school year-round. No. Students should not be in school in the summer. PRESS 2 somewhere else." Year-round students attend school the same number of days as other students, about 180. But instead of a long summer vacation, they get shorter breaks throughout the year. TODAY'S STUDENTS AREN'T FARMHANDS Supporters say year-round schedules relieve overcrowding, avoid summer learning loss, reduce child-care burdens on parents and keep bored kids off the streets. By staggering students' vacations and schedules, schools can increase capacity by 25-50 percent, avoiding the need to construct costly new buildings. Most schools operate on a calendar "designed for the economy of the last century," says Charles Ballinger, executive director of the National Association for Year-Round Education. "Most children are not needed on farms, so why do we continue on a calendar which has no educational validity?" Opponents counter that year-round schools are a costly, hectic and largely ineffective cure for the nation's education ills. "This is embracing change Students at El Paso's William D. Slider Middle School, which went to a year-round schedule in 1992, study math through "spatial visualization." Principal Charles Vass says the main advantage of the new calendar is that "kids are not away from the subject matter for any great length of time." Touch-tone phone users only. One call per household; we'll accept the first 100,000 calls. The line Is open from 6 a.m. ET May 29 through midnight ET June 4, or until the call limit is reached. Callers' names won't be used for mailing-list purposes. If you can't call, vote on a postcard and mail by June 1 to "National Forum: School," USA WEEKEND, 1000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. 222290012. Or vote at www.usaweekend.com. Look for results in the July 3-5 issue. for the sake of change," says Dorothy Rubin, a College of New Jersey education professor. "Rather than extend the school year, we have to focus on more effective use of the time we have." In some districts, promised cost savings have not materialized. Schools implementing year-round calendars must pay for additional administrative, utility, maintenance, transportation and salary costs. Many older schools lack air conditioning. SOME YEAR-ROUND SCHOOLS ARE SWITCHING BACK Today, 2,460 U.S. schools are on a year-round calendar. Most are in fast- growing districts in Texas and California. This year, San Antonio (55,000 students) became the largest district to completely adopt the year-round calendar. But other districts are reverting to traditional summer break. Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas, will reinstate traditional calendars this fall, citing minimal improvement in test scores. And in Los Angeles, parents and administrators at 543 schools voted in 1993 to return to a summers-off schedule because hot classrooms and high costs outweighed the educational pluses of year-round schooling. Last month, New York City opted not to implement a year-round schedule proposed by Gov. George Pataki. d By Cesar G. Soriano r RESULTS OF APRIL'S NATIONAL FORUM Slim majority rejects "gene-cleansing" The April 24-26 National Forum looked at "germ-line gene therapy" performed on egg, sperm or embryo - a controversial procedure aimed at preventing babies from inheriting genetic diseases such as hemophilia and cystic fibrosis. 11,577 readers voted by phone, mail or online in the non-scientific survey. WE ASKED: Should we "fix" nature's genetic mistakes? -53% NO. It's unethical to tamper with genes and could lead to abuses, 47% YES. It should be—' legal to correct genetic mistakes caused by nature. 16 USA WEEKEND • May 29-31,1998

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