Education Editorial: Back to school 2012

By: Bill Bosher - email

Monday is Labor Day. In Virginia, the holiday is seasonally the end of the summer, politically the official start of the final and most intense lap of fall elections, and educationally the last day before school begins.

Of course, that's unless you have a waiver -- and last year, 77 of the 132 school divisions had permission from the Board of Education to start school prior to Labor Day. In the 2012 legislative session, Gov. McDonnell's agenda included a bill that would repeal the post-Labor Day requirement and permit local school board to make the decision about when school opens.

This policy debate is likely to reappear and the dichotomy, although perhaps contrived, will be education versus economic development.

Some will pitch that the issue is about priorities and others will offer that it is an issue of control -- tourism versus the constitutional authority of local school boards. In reality, the issue is less about when school begins and ends and more about what you do with it.

Virginia's Standards of Learning accountability program sets academic expectations, administers tests against those expectations, reports the results by schools and school divisions, and applies penalties for students and schools failing to graduate or not being accredited.

As parents prepare their young people to go back to school…or enroll for the first time, they might consider offering some advice: The amount of time that you have is less important than how you use it! It may be good for teachers to think about this as well.

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