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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dump Mid-Winter Break

I totally don't get Mid-Winter Break. To me, it seems not only unnecessary but an interuption. Kids just started the new semester and they will soon have Spring Break when - BAM - they get a week off in the middle of February for no clear reason.

Apparently Nicole Brodeur thinks so too.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, no, please don't get rid of midwinter break! I love having more than one option for a family get away. I would prefer, though, that they move spring break later in spring, say maybe mid to late April, so all of the breaks were a little more distributed.

zb said...

I find a lot of people go away for mid-winter break. I think they use it to have a nuclear family vacation after having spent the winter break with larger group of local extended family.

Not sure why spring break doesn't provide the same opportunity -- perhaps its linkage with Easter? making it another extended family/religious period?

seattle said...

Personally, I would do away with mid winter break. I'd rather have that week added on to the summer when the weather is consistently nice and we can be outside at the beach or the park or the zoo!

Sue said...

I HATE midwinter break, especially as it is so close to spring break.

Get out a week earlier in June please.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mom of two, how many people really have a getaway for Winter or Spring break? Probably very few.

If you look at the school calendar between January and April, there are very few full weeks of schooling between one-day holidays, early release and Spring/Winter breaks plus the disruption that is the WASL.

We need to get out of school earlier.

Moose said...

Ditto Keepin on and Adhoc -- we would much rather have an extra week of summer. I also think that with all the breaks in January and February (MLK, day between semesters, mid-winter break) and early releases, the winter instructional time is very broken up and disjointed.

h2o girl said...

AMEN, Charlie. I totally agree. The kids got back from Winter Break on January 4. They had January 18 off. They had January 29 off. They have March 19 off, and then March 29-April 2 Spring Break. It makes no sense to me to also have an entire week off in February.

SE Mom said...

I often wonder how the breaks affect families who cannot take vacations, enroll kids in camps or take time off from work to cover
childcare needs. There are definately class issues here that would affect perceptions about the usefullness of mid winter break.

ARB said...

Is this a west coast thing? Never had them growing up in the NE. Just a long weekend for Pres. Day. Pointless and disruptive.

WenD said...

ZB: I'm not in the economic tier that allows me to supplement an extended family vacation with a nuclear family vacation. Our family hasn't had an actual vacation, the kind where you go father than 20 miles out of town, in several years. (My kids had classmates who bragged about going to Hawaii in February. That got old very fast.)

November is already a half-month, between holiday and half-days for conferences. Half of December is lost, then just when they get back in their groove, February comes with another week off.

When our kids were younger it was always stressful to find childcare to supplement before and after school care. The cherry on top is WASL testing, which starts immediately after spring vacation. Who planned that one?

Patrick said...

When I was in school, we didn't have a midwinter break, but during January through March we had an extra Friday or Monday off every week or two. Lots of ski weekends. That was even more disruptive than having the week at mid-winter. At least with mid-winter break, there's the chance for families to take a longer vacation if they can.

I would happily trade mid-winter break for getting out earlier in June, though. Of course I'm not a skier...

As long as we're talking about the calendar, doesn't UW have the largest group of employees on a single schedule in Seattle? Maybe Seattle Public Schools and UW could have their spring breaks at the same time.

Jet City mom said...

I think mid winter break causes real harm to the learning that happening in the classrooms.

After the long summer break- it takes several months for teachers to assess student readiness and get them going, then there is November teacher conferences, and winter break in December.

Mid-Winter break following shortened weeks in Jan and Feb, just adds insult to injury and totally disrupts the forward momentum for many students which is tenuous at best.

( Not to make light of the very real issue of child care- which is a struggle for many families who cannot take time off every time there is a half day or a week long break)

TechyMom said...

When and where I grew up, it was called "ski week" and only private schools did it. The reasoning was that it was difficult to conduct classes when half the students were away skiing anyway, and all those homework/make-up packets were a pain for the teachers. I was surprised that public schools do it here.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of folks that would scrap mid-winter break. As others have said, it's educationally disruptive, and shortens summer vacation, which is a real vacation. Summer break is too short as it is.

Lori said...

I really don't get the whole school calendar from January into April. We are currently in the midst of time period with constant interruptions, from the week long breaks, holiday weekends, professional development days, and early dismissals. Is this optimal for learning?

Then, come April, we have nearly 3 solid months without any variety. We get out in late June, weeks later than children in the rest of the country. Are our kids still really focused on school at that point? Wouldn't the end of the school year be the best time for some shake-ups in the routine rather than right after Christmas break?

Intuitively, it seems that school should start out slowly in the fall, build to a crescendo over winter with minimal disruptions in the routine to maximize learning, and end with some fun and variety in the schedule in the spring to celebrate a job well done and prevent fatigue.

mb said...

i always thought this was a teacher union thing and the teachers just wanted more time off. & i might be wrong here but don't seattle public school kids go to school less days than others around the state and country?

Anonymous said...

Apparently the schools vote every year on whether to take Mid-Winter Break. Here's what my son's teacher said in an email the night before we came back:

"I find mid-winter break to be an interruption in the flow. I'd much rather we didn't have one and got out of school a week earlier in the summer. I am in the minority because, when it comes time to vote for the next year's schedule, teachers and administrators vote in the mid-winter break."

Unknown said...

I vote "no" on mid-winter break. I don't understand the purpose of taking a week-long break so soon after the holidays. My family doesn't ski-we can't afford it. Nor can we afford a vacation. We were lucky that the weather was nice enough this break to do a lot of outside activities. Dump it.

Patrick said...

Perhaps part of the reason for having midwinter break is a way to make up school days that are lost due to snow other than staying later into June. Summer plans are more likely to involve travel booked ahead. Just a thought.

Unknown said...

I'm in 8th grade and go to a school in the Seattle School District. parents don't understand the constant pressure us kids are under to succeed in school. you expect us to be the leaders in a competitive world, yet you expect us to wake up every single morning at dark 30 and walk the 5 miles to our bus stop, then take a bunch of constant nagging from teachers. after that we go home with the gigantic load of home work and repeat the process over and over again. studying for standardized tests that make no sense and don't measure the right skills. we need the one week break in the middle of hopelessness to sleep in, connect with our friends, and just have fun. this is why we need mid-winter break. to free ourselves from the constant daily horror that is the Seattle School System.

Jet City mom said...

Summer plans are more likely to involve travel booked ahead. Just a thought.

It wasn't that long ago when we did have a number of school days that were canceled due to snow- the district decided to extend the school year into the summer instead of shortening mid winter break.

Unknown said...

I'm with Joshua.

wsnorth said...

Joshua, you are a fine addition to the contributors at this blog!

PS You forgot constant nagging from parents - maybe I should lighten up on that. :-]

Unknown said...

As earlier comments noted, the majority of educators vote in favor of the midwinter break year after year, even though MGJ has tried hard to get rid of it.

Blogs aren't a form of journalism that solicits opinions from those who choose not to post and there don't appear to be any educatos posting who vote in favor of mid-winter break, so we can't understand why they vote the way they do. (And I don't think speculation as to motives is particularly helpful.) In any event, I'm willing to trust that there are good reasons that our educators routinely vote in favor of the midwinter break. They're not well-paid, so Brodeur's theory that it's a breakdown between skiers and non-skiers is unlikely to hold explain it, at least in full.

Personally, as a parent, I like it, but I can certainly understand why it's a hardship to others. I grew up back east where the culture supported a completely different set of vacation days. We had all sorts of Christian and Jewish holidays, plus a couple of days for teacher's convention. Once you know the drill, you make it work. It may not be ideal, but it is what it is. Any system has issues for some. It's school, not daycare. Ideally, society would provide both. But we don't seem to be willing to do that in this country.

wseadawg said...

10-4 Joshua. Loud and clear.

The new film Race To Nowhere is all about you and your friends, and the full-time hyper-competitiveness our selfish, hypocritical, materialistic culture dumps on you.

With few exceptions, any grown up who tells you they had it tougher than you is lying through their teeth.

As a parent, I could live without the extra week off, but if you need it, and it helps you get along, I'll support it.

Awesome to hear from you!

Jet City mom said...

It's school, not daycare

SO it should be educational anyway, right?

But with early dismissals, late arrivals, assemblies up the yin/yang, holidays for this, and some teachers making use of as many vacation/personal days to stretch their weekends , not to mention subs so educators can go visit schools across the state and the country, and it can seem more like just getting a warm body to supervise the kids.

Daycare was more focused, at least they didn't seem to have curriculum dictated to them and they knew the value of play.
:)

I'm sorry that Joshua feels his teachers nag, I am of the logical consequences school myself, but then I don't have a classroom to keep together.

From 12yrs old onward, my kids were extremely busy with school and their extra curriculars like sports and community service, but they did those things with their friends- and it wasn't punitive, it was their choice.

Just like PTA's paying for curriculum and instruction takes the heat off of the district/state stepping up to their responsibility, so does taking yet another break " to escape from the horror". take the heat off of SPS to allow the youth to take more control and have more input into their own learning.

Unknown said...

I'm concerned with the amount of breaks, days off and early dismissals throughout the year.
- 3 weeks after school started - 2 hour early dismissal on 9/30/09
- 7 days later - no school for professional development on 10/9/09
- 2.5 weeks later - 2 hour early dismissal on 10/28/-0
- 1.5 weeks later - no school - Veterans Day
- 1.5 weeks later - 1 hour early dismissal for Thanksgiving and 2 days off. The early dismissal is unnecessary and difficult for parents.
- 3 weeks later - 2 weeks off for Christmas
- 2 weeks later - no school - MLK Day.
- 2 weeks later - no school on 1/29/10 - day between semesters. This is unnecessary!
- 2 weeks later - full week off for mid-winter break.
- 2 days later - 2 hour early dismissal on 3/3/10
- 1.5 weeks later - no school 3/19/10 - professional development
- 1 week later - week off for Spring Break
- 6.5 weeks later - 2 hour early dismissal on 5/19 - professional development
- 1.5 weeks later - no school - Memorial Day
- 3.5 weeks later - last day of school.
Many school districts have done away with the mid-winter break because all the breaks are unnecessary and too disruptive to the students' progression in learning.

RestlessMind said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned 2 things that seriously affect the ability of our high school students to compete with the unreasonable extension of the school year into late June: namely, jobs and competetive sports. All local students who get out a full 1 - 3 weeks earlier have a jump start on the job market; We are way out of step with the East and other parts of the U.S., some of whom are done by Memorial Day, and this affects serious athletes. College sports camps (where recruiting is often done - a GREAT way for an otherwise under-privileged student to get seen & possibly land a scholarship) often START while our students are still studying for final exams!!
Likewise, for many other resume-building programs and activities.
It's a disgrace! Delete Mid-winter break, or (blasphemy! Early Dismissals, WASL, etc), and let these older students, at least, have an even playing field - literally!! One more way Seattle School bureaucracy proves how provincial they are and strive to remain.

David said...

Mid winter break is a new thing since I was a kid. Sometime when I was in 5th or 6th grade they started it. I think that would have been 1988 or 1989. I remember getting out for christmas like the 12th or 15th of December, not the 20th or 23rd.

So mid winter is now the week we lost in December.