• TheDMonline.com Staff Member?
  • Log In
Share |

The wrong kind of shortcut

The DM Editorial Board: Alex McDaniel, Jason Smith, Cass Green, Donica Phifer, Caroline Lee

The DM Editorial Board meets daily to establish a position on a specific issue after a majority opinion is formed.

During a recent meeting of the Mississippi Joint Legislative Budget Committee Rep. Diane Peranich made a proposal to start the school year later in Mississippi, much like that of other states throughout the U.S.

Naturally, as college students, we are fully supportive of this idea. We all could use a longer summer vacation.

But there is more to this than simply giving all us an extra week to stay out late and sleep until noon (not that class actually prohibits that behavior).

Peranich believes beginning the school year later, such as the end of August for public schools, would help in lowering operation costs on air-conditioning and therefore generating a slight revenue to help the Department of Education with other costs.

The argument could be made using examples of other schools in the nation which generally begin classes after Labor Day. While we don’t have statistics regarding operating costs, it is widely known that the northern areas of the U.S. begin experiencing cooler weather shortly after classes begin. Therefore, costs are lower.

This is Mississippi, however. Generally speaking, it’s just as hot in June as it is in August. If the school year began at the beginning of September, the difference would be require extending from May into June.

All the money that appears to be saved would only disappear to pay for June’s air-conditioning bill.

In theory it seems like a wonderful idea, and it could work, provided the school year was shortened to accommodate the change.

But that isn’t likely to happen– which is just as well, because it shouldn’t happen.

Mississippi was ranked last in literacy from 2005 to 2007, and second to last in 2008. We have made efforts towards improving our ranking through various programs through the state and federal governments, but we still have a long way to go.

Children need that additional time in school to learn, and the primary function of the Department of Education is to enable teachers, and other staff to do that very thing. Shortening the school year for the sake of “saving” money is a terrible option. Education should always come first.

It is certainly understandable that lawmakers would attempt to stretch every penny within an already tight budget; there never seems to be enough money to go around. But some shortcuts cannot, and should not, be made.