Friday, October 7, 2016

The Ridiculous 5-day Weekend

This is the last year that Sabrina is going to be in school, and therefore it is the last year where I will have to deal with the phenomenon known as the 5-day weekend. When I was in school, the three-day weekend was just coming into vogue. I guess up until the late 1960's, the various holidays on the calendar were celebrated on whatever day of the week they happened to fall on. I can actually (dimly) remember the first Presidents' Day, the first Columbus Day, and the first Memorial Day weekends that were celebrated on Mondays, that led to three-day weekends. My grade school self thought that was cool as could be, and apparently so did everyone else, because before too long, there were attempts to celebrate every holiday before Thanksgiving on Mondays. Eventually, sense prevailed, and we were spared Veterans Day on the fourth Monday in October, to take the most egregious example.
But sometime around a decade ago, schools began scheduling "Superintendent's Days" in February on the Friday before Presidents Day. And then adding the same to the Friday before Columbus Day. And then, in certain years, on the Friday before Memorial Day, too. And the three day weekend became a four-day weekend. And some enterprising genius thought to tack on the now-mandatory "early dismissal drills" that came out of the response to 9/11 on the Thursday before the Friday on the Monday holidays, so as a result, all school children were home by noon today, and won't be coming back before Tuesday.
Well, to borrow a phrase, Holy Bullshit, Batman. Teachers are already regarded, wrongly for the most part, as lazy and overpaid by the boorish public. Honestly, this kind of crap is the reason why. There is no reason to essentially take five days off three times a year, in addition to winter breaks, spring breaks, semester breaks, and the unplanned but very real snow days most years. We have been fighting a losing battle in recent decades about the value of an education in the minds and hearts of taxpayers and parents, and it doesn't help the cause when many working parents are put out because of bogus days off like tomorrow and half-days for no good reason. One reasonable-sounding redneck type asked me years ago, "Why should we believe that education is all-important when even the teachers don't want to be in school?"
And it's a half-legitimate question. Regarding a situation like this, appearances do matter. And I am firmly convinced that at least some of the poor attitude many teens have about high school was born in elementary school, when it seemed like there were half-days every other week and breaks that seemed created out of thin air. Why would they take the idea that education and school was important seriously, when all the adults around them used the flimsiest of reasons to jump ship for nearly a week at a time?
I remember when I was in high school, I went to the school on the few occasions there were half-days, because I liked going to and being at school. None of my kids--all of whom were and are very successful students, by the way--liked school by the time they were in tenth grade, and all of them balked about attending on half-days at all. Sabrina didn't get out of bed until noon today--in her case, it would have been asinine to go in, because her normal schedule gives her the first two periods off, and had she went today, she only had one class to go to.
And half-days are worse than full days off.  I was fortunate that I had a flexible job that was located close to Sabrina' s school; getting her out of school when she was a grade-schooler and getting her to day care or a sitter wasn't a big deal for me. But I know I was a minority; there were a lot of parents that had to take half- or full days themselves to ensure that the child was being watched . That's a tough burden to place on parents, and the fact that you want 5 days off is a pretty shitty excuse for making parents assume that burde.
You can add rectifying this situation to the list of Things I Will Change when I become your benevolent dictator.

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