The Kings Dominion Law Survives Another Round

Corkscrew logic with the Kings Dominion law

Apparently, there are competing visions on how Virginia can thrive in a globally competitive economy amidst rapid technological change.  One vision makes it a top priority to educate our children in order to equip them with the knowledge and skills required to be creative, economically productive citizens across a wide variety of disciplines. Another vision subordinates our children’s education to the needs of the travel and hospitality industry.

When forced to choose between the two, a Senate panel voted 9 to 6 in a bipartisan majority to prohibit public school districts from commencing classes before Labor Day. Currently, reports the Times-Dispatch, school systems can open early only with a waiver from the Virginia Board of Education for “good cause.” To date, 77 of the state’s 132 school districts have been granted waivers.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, who as a Virginia Beach legislator once supported the law, made total repeal a centerpiece of his education reform initiative. Educators argued that starting the school year earlier would help better prepare students for Advanced Placement courses, the tests for which are held in early June.

Travel & hospitality lobbyists asserted that starting school early would cost the state $369 million in lost GDP and wages and $21 million in tax income. Just a guess: The study that pulled those numbers out of a hat did not incorporate the cost to students of lower AP scores. In any case, legislators sided with their large travel/tourism business constituencies and against their students.


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14 responses to “The Kings Dominion Law Survives Another Round”

  1. this is proof positive that the business community and many like-minded legislators gives a rats behind not only about education but about wages for workers.

    Everybody and their dog knows that this is about not having to pay market wages for workers which are in ample supply these days. KD and company simply don’t want to have to compete for workers.

  2. Eh, the travel and entertainment industry doesn’t hire American students. They hire Ukrainian students and put ten of them in a room only one American kid would live in. The real reason the lobby says they would lose so much money if school started early is because it’s the American kids who are spending Dad’s money on the entertainment.

    Oh, and all that Advanced Placement stuff is a bunch of hooey. The majority of those classes are never credited because the student either doesn’t go to college, or changes their major, making the courses irrelevant. Ask a few students and they will tell you that science is on the way out for the simple reason that there is no NASA, no Military, and NO APPLE. The future is in designing stupid apps for overpriced smart phones, not designing the phones themselves.

  3. is that true? I stand corrected.. how embarrassing!

    this is really all about mom/dad/the family lingering longer at the amusement parks rather than back to school?

  4. Your durn tootin it’s true. If the kids have school early then the parks go bankrupt and close down. Then there are fewer tax dollars for McD to hand over to entities like Amtrak.

  5. HardHatMommy Avatar

    So if this passes, schools would start in August and get out earlier in June? What do teachers say about this? Won’t they know best?

    My guess is that starting school when the pool is still open just to turn around and have a long weekend right off the bat could be a distracting way to start the school year. I kind of like the Labor Day (close down the pool, have all the grandparents over, celebrate the end of a fun-filled summer) kind of deal. On Labor Day, you get the new backpacks out and the lunch boxes and pick out that first day of school outfit. It’s fun and there is a clear end to summer and start to the serious school year.

    But I have little kids and am not yet impacted by whatever this AP testing issue is. If we are putting our kids at a disadvantage by enjoying those beautiful last few weeks of family time, then I suppose the right thing to do is open those school doors in August. But ultimately, it just seems to me that the teachers should be weighing in on this one. They are the experts. What are they saying?

  6. I wonder what would be said if school was made year around as it is in the countries that we compete against for 21st century jobs?

    used to be… we thought there would always be a job for kids that grew up and wanted one… that only the slackers did not get jobs.

    I think that has changed.

    look here:

    real GDP vs employment

    but right now… most parents are still more concerned about other things than the child getting as least as good an education as his counterpart in Europe and Asia.

  7. HardHatMommy Avatar

    Parents can and should take part in their children’s growth and development. There is much to learn from beach trips with cousins, camping and fishing with grandpa, playing the piano with Grandma, planting a garden with mommy, and building a tree house with daddy. Learning opportunities abound. Don’t discount how important family time is. It gives children rich opportunities to apply what is learned in school. With that said, I would be okay with year round school with the existing vacation time spread out throughout the school year. But I wouldn’t be okay with public school, with all its deficiencies, gaining more time with my kids.

  8. HHM – not every parent does as good a job and not every child is lucky enough to have two excellent parents but if we configure our schools to cater only to kids who have parental advantages, we are going to create generations of people who need entitlements because they lack sufficient education to get good jobs.

    It’s one thing to love YOUR kid. It’s another to love all kids and to do what we should to help them all grow up and be successful even if they don’t have the best parents in the world.

    We started out public education in this country with this approach. Most parents in an Agrarian society were uneducated and unable to help their kids with “book learning”. That’s why they formed the public school system but even after they did that – they wanted their kids home to help with harvest.

    I feel that we have degenerated into a country where we say “family” is important …paramount – but we draw the law at each of our own families rather than recognizing that we ought to be thinking that ALL kids are our family.

    we seek the best for our kids – not caring what happens to the other kids.

    but we totally forget that our kids will grow up to pay the entitlement costs of the kids we choose to ignore and not care what happens to.

    you have to go back to WHY we have PUBLIC SCHOOLs to start with. Why every single industrialized country in the world – not only has PUBLIC SCHOOLS but they have curriculums that insure that ALL kids get a good education no matter how good or bad their parents are – BECAUSE education is a strategic imperative – both economic and moral for these countries.

    People SHOULD help their kids in every way they can to have a full and rich educational experience but our duty as parents and citizens is to make sure that all kids who have normal IQs get a basic education regardless of their parental circumstances.

    About 1/2 of kids these days come from broken families. We all know that broken families are not the best for the kids – but we soldier on.

    What if we just came right out and said that if a kid was from a broken family, it was tough cookies in terms of school?

    because.. in some ways.. that is what some of us are saying.

    when we say we support schools – what we should mean is that we support ALL kids – not just our own.

  9. HardHatMommy Avatar

    I don’t know that more time in today’s public schools is the answer; not for the kids with great parents and not for the kids with crummy parents. Kids are kids. They need freedom and down time. My first grader gets off the bus a little after 4 p.m. and then has homework that is, at best, busy work. Already my little guy who loves reading and learning (went through 3 chapter books this weekend and mastered a third grade math book), is complaining that school is boring. He wakes up, goes to school, does homework, eats dinner and then it’s time for bed. He has a full time job and he is in first grade. Our fourth grader isn’t as driven to achieve, but he does love history and science and could spend hours reading books, particularly about the history of science. But when it comes to homework, I want to pull my hair out. He is too tired from a full day of school to concentrate. We do a math problem and he starts chirping about Ben Franklin and I have to refocus him. I dread homework because they dread it.

    Besides volunteer work, I haven’t regularly taught kids. But these days, I teach a lot of 2 hour “best practices” kind of seminars to adults. They are a breeze to teach. Holding the attention of adults for 2 hours is easy. But when I was younger, I used to teach CPR and First Aid to adults. There were times I actually collapsed from exhaustion because I had to bring every trick I had to the table to keep the attention of the dozen busy adults in my class for 8 hours. I knew that they would not be able to absorb and retain the information unless I gave them the most enthusiastic and exciting CPR and First Aid class they had ever been through. Finally I refused to teach it all in one day and would only teach 4 hours at a time. There is a point where we all hit a wall and need to go home and have time to absorb what we learned.

    But we expect kids to stay alert and ready to learn for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week? I think what we are doing is increasing our drop out rate down the road.

    If I were queen for a day, I would cut school back to 5 hours a day, limit homework, and add 3 hours at the end of the day that focused on learning opportunities that a lot of kids don’t get to benefit from such as a building club (Legos), foreign language, advanced art, tae kwon do, dance, horticulture, etc. It won’t surprise you that I am a huge fan of the Montessori approach to learning.

    I have no idea how this would play out in the real world, but my guess is that we would see our drop out rate diminish if school had less goofing off time, less teaching to the test, and more opportunity to use the reading, math and science skills built during the first part of the day to explore interests and further develop talents during the second part of the day. Right now, by the time kids who are less fortunate get to middle school, quitting school can look attractive to them. We don’t bother to learn what their individual strengths are and inspire them to learn and reach for their unique dreams.

    I’ve known some amazing teachers and guidance counselors and have spent a good deal of time volunteering in 3 very different school systems. I can tell you that the common trait of the best teachers is the ability to understand the unique strengths and interests of each kid and then use that insight to engage the kids and make learning fun. That’s how you get your budding scientist, doctor, engineer, and teacher to go down a path of success towards their dream – regardless of what kind of parents they have at home.

    But it is really hard in our system for those awesome teachers to do this. They are teaching to tests and trying to keep up with burdensome requirements that hold them back from really teaching. Our system strips teachers of creativity. Then we think we can blindly throw money at the problem and it will go away. I love our teachers but I’m not sold on our system.

    So I’m not for more time in school as it is. The teachers would tell you the same. Not because they are lazy, but because they know how hard it is to keep the attention of kids. I can’t even sit still in an all-day seminar. How do we expect our kids to be actively learning for such long periods of time? And whether it is summer break or several long breaks built into a year-long program, both teachers and students need that break.

    I think we start using school as daycare or as a way to keep kids with crappy parents safe and sound and out of trouble. Is that the purpose of public school?

    What is the purpose of public school anyway? Have we as a culture agreed to a purpose? Is it to arm children with the skills and knowledge they need to chase their individual dreams? Is it to create a certain kind of workforce (yuck this seems like we are molding young people to suit the world, I don’t like this at all)? Is it to create good citizens who are well-informed and capable of making the world a better place? Is it to provide free daycare for working parents (certainly this is how it is used to some degree – I wouldn’t be able to work full time if not for the public school system) – but should this be part of its purpose?

    So what is the primary purpose of public school? And who is to say we don’t need some other publicly driven something or other to satisfy an ancillary purpose or two? I’d rather throw more money towards a new program that helps kids with lackluster parents then to continue to saddle public schools and teachers with having to stretch thin to play the parental role with a population of kids who unfortunately have parents who can’t or won’t play a role in guiding their own sweet children.

  10. kids grow up. Kids that grow up with crummy educations can’t get jobs and require entitlements.

    the purpose of schools is full employment. Full employment does a lot to help provide good parents for future kids.

    Europe and Asian have learned this lesson.

    if we fail to recognize this – we will have more poverty, more bad parents and more neglected kids.

    what we’re advocating here is blaming the kids who have bad parents.

    help the kids – especially those who really need that help instead of turning your back on them.

    the best love we can give kids – is a good education. we need to love – all kids.

  11. you’re totally right about keeping kids attention. It CAN be done by people who are trained to do it and see it as their job.

    this is what a teacher is. Not everyone is cut out to do it.

    we need to understand and accept the reality that kids that grow up with bad educations – will cost us all including our own kids.

    It is the number 1 job we should be focused on.

  12. HardHatMommy Avatar

    Finland’s schools top the world rankings time and time again. But their kids have the fewest number of class hours in the developed world.

    You have to prove your way into getting one of the coveted teaching positions and you have to be successful in order to keep the position. They aren’t into measuring every little thing. They trust that the teacher knows what he or she is doing. The power is with that teacher, not the administrator, not the union, not the government. Teachers are highly paid and high performers. Teachers help other teachers succeed and there is great emphasis on training their teachers. Those who aren’t great teachers don’t make the cut and nobody is going to try to prop them up. The “power” so to speak is very decentralized. The individual teacher is given a lot of freedom and a very big voice in terms of the entire system. They are the best and they know it and they just don’t put up with bad teachers.

    They really have a beautiful structure that seems to have its roots in Montessori and creates a culture in the classroom where the gifted help those that are at risk of falling behind. The result is that the gifted child gains real self-esteem and solidifies their knowledge (when we teach what we know, we really cement that information into our little brains and can more easily and effectively apply it to real life situations) AND the child struggling benefits because they are not left behind. Now that’s a real no child left behind plan; not a bull**** one.

    The kids in Finland often have the same teacher for several years. That teacher can really get to know what drives the student and the quality of education improves dramatically. With teaching kids, it’s all about figuring out what their strengths are and helping them build and grow those skills. You can drill facts into their heads all day long, but until you connect with them and understand their hearts and minds, you won’t produce kids who can really compete with the world.

    I remember seeing some official from Finland saying something about how increasing the time kids are in school is leftover from an industrial mindset and that you should decrease the amount of time and you’ll find greater success. It is working for them. But you can’t do that here if we are using public school as daycare.

  13. You are correct on the data and correct on how they operate. I would be fine with that path.

    what I’m not fine with is the current excuse-laden, blame path.

    they don’t use pubic school for daycare – what do we?

    are both countries operating public schools?

    the problem in this country as stated earlier is that we advocate for our own kids but we don’t advocate for all kids… and in Finland, all kids are advocated for – it’s about all of their education. It’s a national priority.

    why are we making excusing and blaming teachers?

  14. HHM – I think we both say the same documentary.. I too was impressed.

    Finland spends a lot of money on education.. not quite what we do but their elementary education is tops in the world and that’s at a level where extracurricular is not a major part.

    If a child fails to reach proficiency by the 3rd grade, he is in trouble. If he fails to reach proficiency by the time he leaves elementary.. he’s going to fail no matter how good the teachers are.

    in this country – we are well into a “blame the teachers” mode.

    they don’t blame the teachers in Finland. The folks who run those schools, demand high performing teachers and wash them out if they don’t perform but at the end of they day the folks who run the system are responsible and accountable – not individual teachers.

    how exactly do they evaluate their teachers in the first place?

    I agree with you – I far prefer the Finland model over the others.

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