So now we are nearing the end of the second week of school and the weather
has been pure bright summertime throughout this period. There were maybe
three or four mornings when there was enough coolness in the air to make
it clear that we were in the waning days of summer, but then summer heat
returned. A few days ago we even tied the record high for that date. This
has been a dry summer, almost no rain -- yes, after that cold, wet spring,
day after damp and chilly and rainy day, we balanced things off by having
a sunny drought. Today, however, that changed -- the weather babblers have
been babbling about a cold front and a warm front and whatever, but the
result was a very foggy morning followed by rain, heavy at times, followed
by more rain, heavy at times, lather, rinse, repeat. Now they say that
Ophelia may push some rain onto us for the weekend. I hope it clears away
as early as possible because the plan is for Adam and Leah and Sammy to
come up for a visit and it would be fun to get to a beach with Sammy.
|And now it's mid-September...
Sometimes it seems as if summer ends with Labor Day, when school begins...
When I was a kid, school always began on a Wednesday, so you got an extra
day off after Labor Day Monday. When Gillian and Jeremy were little, when
we lived in Binghamton, NY, I always tried to do one last summer thing
with them, usually go to a park and try to get that one last day in before
These days it seems as if more and more school systems are starting back
to school before Labor Day.
I don't understand that. I believe that late August starts always were
the standard in the South, but now even school systems in New England do
it. Probably half of the schools in Rhode Island began the week before
Labor Day. It makes no sense to me. Start school, have two or three days
of classes and then break for a three day weekend. In our town school begins
on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. That's better than beginning a week
early, but I still think that Wednesday would be better.
My expectations for school calendars were formed in New York State, where
calendars pretty much matched pretty closely from one school district to
the next. Much of this was due, I realize in retrospect, to the New York
State Regents exams. Throughout most of the twentieth century in New York,
high schools gave two different diplomas. One, generally called a "school"
or "local" diploma, said that you probably took basic courses
plus shop classes or some other minimal content, minimal effort courses.
The other diploma was called a Regents diploma and (in addition to having
taken more courses than recipients of school diplomas) it meant that you
took courses which required passing a state examination.
There was one Regents exam for English, taken at the end of your junior
year and representing three years of study. There was a Regents exam for
world history (usually sophomore year and one for American history usually
junior year). Language courses had Regents exams (although I am now wondering
about the accuracy of my memory, because I remember taking a Regents for
Latin 1, but I only recall a Regents final for French 2, not for French
1). Science and math courses all had Regents exams. There were also Regents
exams for some of the business courses as well (but I never took any so
please don't ask me to remember what they were now that *cough* several
years have passed).
Anyway, the point of this is that each exam was to be given on a given
specified date and time in June. That put a stake in the sand marking the
absolute end of the school year. Take the date of the first day of Regents
exams, take into account the state requirement for a minimum of 180 days
of school, guess how many snow days you were likely to have and end up
with a figure of, say, 185 scheduled days to be sure of getting in your
180, add in various holidays, and that usually brought you to a couple
of days after Labor Day.
Like most states, Rhode Island has no equivalent of New York State's system
of state-mandated final exams, so they are not locked into a common ending
date. Some schools start before Labor Day, some after Labor Day. Many just
schedule 180 days. They make no provision for snow days. What do they do
if they have to close for a day due to a winter storm? They simply add
another day to the scheduled closing date. Given a snowy winter like the
one we had this past school year, many schools finished their school year
three or four days later than they had originally planned.
|Gillian and Tiger playing
I've been busy lately... ah yes, but I'm always busy... I think it's been
Katrina and the aftermath and I think, just as back last fall with politics
and the election, I got very involved in following news reports and various
blogs and such, to the degree where it ate up my computer time...