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Friday, October 21, 2016

Duval shortens Christmas Break to make up weather days, other districts decide not to make them up.

Duval has decided to cut Christmas break short by two days, um who is going to come in those days, and take a day away in April while Clay and St. Johns elected not to make the days up. Come on man.

Now some people might point out that they have a slightly different schedule and the time is built into their days to which I say, why the beep haven't we done that?

I think its because the district is in love with A/B block scheduling which I think is so dreadful.

I wrote this a few years ago and my opinion hasn't changed one bit.

 The first thing they should do is get rid of A/B block scheduling and go to a six period day. If you didn’t know, in high schools we have several different schedules revolving around the A/B block. The A/B block used to be kids would have four ninety minutes classes one day and four different classes the next. Budget cuts changed that and many schools have seven classes, six that meet every other day (three one day and three other the next) and one shorter class that meets ever day. Then the intervene schools have six 90 minute classes (again three one day and three other the next) that meet every other day and two 45 minute classes that meet everyday. That’s seven or eight classes!! A full time load in college is four classes yet for some reason we expect kids to be able to take twice that many and be successful and it doesn’t matter if they go to Stanton considered one of the best schools in the country or our intervene schools which are considered some of the worse. It doesn’t matter if the student loves school or is like many of our kids, apathetic.

Ninety minutes is also way to long. Kids attention spans can’t maintain, heck I am an adult and I start squirming in movie theaters as films pass the ninety-minute mark. That is a lot of time to fill and it’s hard and that’s why many teachers have taken to giving bell work and exit slips or what I like to call busy work to their students. Think about it, if just ten minutes a day is wasted over the course of a year that’s a month of instructional time lost. I know so many teachers that say they go strong from minute one to minute sixty but by about minute 75 and beyond they are just winging it. If classes were shorter kids couldn’t get bored as quick and since boredom often leads to bad behavior this would be lessened too.

Then if a kid misses an A day on a Thursday then they will have gone from that Tuesday to the following Monday six days between classes. If they had the same class every day then there would be just one day between meetings. Breaks can be even longer if there are holidays. At one point this past year during testing I went eleven days between seeing one of my classes. If the kids were there everyday the material would be reinforced everyday.

If there were six periods in a day it would increase the chance that children would have an elective or class they liked on their schedule. We make school such drudgery for children and then wonder why they do poorly. If a kid had a break in their schedule or something they looked forward to this would undoubtedly lessen kids apathy towards school. 

There are two reasons we went to an A/B block schedule. The first is money; you need fewer teachers with it. The second is for advanced placement tests. Joey Wise our previous superintendent was worried that kids that finished first semester AP classes wouldn’t do as well on the tests because they are all given at the end of the second semester. Last I heard Joey works for College Board the maker of AP tests. Kids that take AP tests make up just a small percentage of the student body at the intervene schools. We didn’t go to an A/B block for the benefit of most of our students.

Six periods a day between fifty minutes and an hour is what we should be doing. Where there are lots of things we need to do to assure these school's success this would be a good and doable first step.

At the very least shouldn't we in the future emulate our high performing neighbors going forward?


  1. When Vitti stopped the extra hour for the lowest 300 (36 of our schools) he reported to the state that we were within the statute because we already have an extra hour for every school. Now that hour is supposed to be for reading for those 36, but that is another problem. So which is it ? Do we have an extra hour or not? If we do we all go to school 189 extra hours. Are we really complying with state statute like he told them? Or is this a miscommunication to those of us at these schools? If so why don't we use 28 of those 189 and not make up those days? If the Govenor declares a state of emergency then the time does not have to be made up anyway. Half of my students will be missing because they will continue their family time, so whatever I teach I will have to reteach.

  2. Oh, the BS a superintendent will sling. Actually, I think Duval is doing the right thing. State law says 180 days. To keep districts from playing games, a day is defined as 5 instructional hours or more. These people who are saying they can do 175 days because they will still deliver 900 hours: let's wait and see how the state reacts.

    On a reality basis, I don't have enough time on a 180 day block schedule to do what the state demands I do. I support DCPS scheduling make-up days. As far which days those are, that's the fault of the calendar committee for scheduling the days for extra long breaks because they never thought we would need them.