Letters for Tuesday, March 15

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2005

To the editor:

Every so often, an idea comes along that’s so bad you have to wonder why we’re even debating it. The idea of the Alabama Legislature controlling local school calendars is one of those ideas.

Despite today’s unprecedented demands for high student achievement, some legislators apparently believe the needs of summer camps and amusement parks should be the single-most important factor in choosing a school calendar. Not the fact that Alabama has one of the shortest school years in the country. Not the fact that teachers need as much time as possible to prepare students for the tests on which students’ and schools’ success or failure will be judged. Not even the fact that most parents, students and teachers want the first semester finished before the Christmas holiday.

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Nope, the philosophy behind House Bill 507 and Senate Bill 308 is that Alabama’s tourism industry needs schools to start later because camps, museums, restaurants, condos and the like will lose money and access to cheap student labor if school boards continue to choose calendars that reflect the needs of their particular students and communities. Additionally, this is another example of “Big Brother” telling local school districts what to do!

There must be a better way to boost tourism’s profits than disturbing the lives of 732,000 students and 90,000 school employees. There also must be a better solution than wrenching yet another area of local control out of the hands of the people directly affected.

Most Alabama school boards have a process for getting input from parents, community and faculty when the school calendar is being debated. That’s good government. Centralizing power in Montgomery and letting summer camp drive the school calendar is inexcusable!

James E. Ware

Selma City School Board

District 2 Director