Friday, November 30, 2007

Op-Ed: Flawed Logic, Flawed System

I found Charles Fleming's article “In Praise of Year-Round Schooling” an interesting take on the issue of implementing a year round school schedule. This issue is key when looking at education in an urban setting. Some, like Fleming, feel it is necessary for schools in the Los Angeles area. I on the other hand feel that it is a system that should not be used and a traditional school schedule should be reinstated.

Fleming poses a good argument in favor the year-round system. He cites reasons like study abroad opportunities, being able to take classes at other institutions, as well as various work opportunities. The reasons that he cites, as enticing as they may seem, come with major drawbacks. One major flaw with this reasoning are the financial aspects. All of these opportunities are great for a child, but who is able to fund all of them? To the parents who are fortunate enough to grant these opportunities, a year-round schedule looks very enticing; but what about those who are not fortunate enough to grant their children these luxuries? Fleming even states himself that, “I have often wondered how single, working parents work around L.A. Unified's scheduling oddities like ‘professional development days,’ ‘pupil-free days,’ ‘shortened days,’ ‘minimum days’ and ‘reverse minimum days.’”

Another problem I found with Fleming’s article is that he downplays the negative aspects of a year-round system. His daughters say a downside is that because there are students in the school all year the school can not get the maintenance that it would receive during the summer break. Mr. Fleming fails to recognize that this is a massive problem. How can a parent who puts tax dollars into these schools be satisfied with substandard conditions? Even as a student, I do not feel that I could work to my potential in a dilapidated school. Another problem that Fleming downplays is the intermixing of the different “tracks.” Fleming states that there are territorial disputes over issues like who sits at what lunch table. How can a parent condone a system that results in fighting? It makes no sense that he be behind a system where issues like these are occurring and ignored.

In the end, Fleming makes a good argument as to why he is happy with the idea of year-round schooling. But that is his fatal flaw— it is why he is happy with the schedule. He barely concerns himself with why it would not work for others, and when he does he downplays it to the point where he barely seems to care. The fact is that if someone has the luxuries that Charles Fleming has, than year round schooling is great. But herein lays the problem: most do not. That is why year-round schooling has a major fundamental flaw: it caters specifically to the wealthy.

Jorge Barroso, editor

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