Chamber Blog

Ruth Ann Hanson, Chamber Area Director
Ruth Ann Hanson
Lisa Paxton, Chamber CEO
Lisa Paxton
Kathi Nagorski
Kathi Nagorski
Shannon Janco
Shannon Janco

Don't Tamper With Minnesota's Summer Tradition

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Recently the Brainerd Dispatch published an editorial advocating for school districts to choose their starting date instead of abiding by the state law that requires K-12 schools to start after Labor Day. While the Dispatch references the 2005 bill amendment, this issue has been debated for decades, and Post Labor Day school start continues to be important to Minnesota.

Tourism business is still the primary source of economic prosperity in the Brainerd Lakes Area and an earlier starting date will negatively affect our business community. In these challenging economic times, the last thing we need to do is decrease business activity.

Increased learning outcomes are compatible with Minnesota’s tradition of summer. Our state relies on the sales tax revenue from late summer travel and our businesses rely not only on sales revenue, but also on the seasonal employment of high school students.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors supports a post labor day school start. I also serve on the Governor’s Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, a 28 member group of diverse tourism representatives from throughout Minnesota supporting a post labor day school start.

There is no research that substantiates that an earlier starting date will result in greater student achievement. School districts are free to set their calendar any way they choose to improve student achievement - as long as they start after Labor Day. There are many reforms proposed for K-12 education that can be accomplished with the current law: all day-every day kindergarten, longer school days, increasing the number of education days per year, consolidation of calendars among school districts, and many more. Reforms that compliment students, families, and the many businesses that depend on the current school calendar can be accomplished.

Let’s investigate other tools to increase learning outcomes – changing the existing law is not necessary to make progressive change in Minnesota’s educational achievement rates.



Anonymous Margo Jordan said...

This view is short-sighted and selfish. There are other businesses in the area outside of tourism and the reliance on tourism has not served us well in the recent downturn. Many of the resorts in Crosslake have closed. In our manufacturing business, we can't find high school graduates up here that can read and write, which restricts our business growth. We need managers to come off the shop floor, which has not been possible because of the poor educational preparation of the local students. I don't know if this currently holds true in other areas of the state or not, but I do know that many of the suburban school districts have longer school years than we have in the Brainerd area. Recent studies have shown that study time is the road to proficiency. Students in other industrialized countries spend much more time in the classroom than do Americans, and the idea that we can lengthen the school day is a red herring, as it would interfere with sports. Tradition is rarely a good basis for policy. The state of the current educational system is embarrasing and legislating its continuation is frightening.

October 8, 2010 at 8:23 PM  

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