The North Carolina General Assembly met for a special session in October to address what could immediately be done for the most affected counties in NC from the damage of Hurricane Florence. Actually, it was about half of the state.
Some of the most damaged counties asked that their school systems be allowed to have flexibility with their calendars so that students could make up the missed class time without having to cut into weekends and holidays.
But the solution offered by the NCGA was not really that helpful:
Precisely Hui (the N&O’s education reporter) stated,
“Ten hard-hit southeastern NC school districts wanted calendar flexibility to go past June 9 to help make up time lost due to Hurrican Florence. Instead teh North Carolina General Assembly let them waive up to 20 days. Districts didn’t want to use Saturdays & holidays so how many days will they be forced to waive?”
The General Assembly pretty much said that the school systems had to end the school year on the same timetable as unaffected school systems.
But they can waive up to twenty days. That’s over ten percent of the average school year required by the federal government.
What those counties were asking for was TIME! Time for their students and families to still get an education and do well on the very tests that the state says they have to take.
Now with the loss of days by other school systems due to the recent winter weather and subsequent snow and ice will be eating away at more days. And if the NCGA is to keep pace with its previous, there will be no flexibility given because of the almighty exam schedules and rigid norms that obey special interests and not the schools wishes.
In October, those school systems wanted flexibility to extend the school year so that they could physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually begin to heal from the disaster that was Hurricane Florence. Now many other school systems will need to figure out how to make up days in due to more weather inside of a constricted school calendar.
Weekends, holidays, nights, and early mornings be used used to rebuild and recover. If the state was serious about helping weather-affected schools, then it would allow for local school systems to have calendar flexibility to address the academic needs of their students in the time frame that would be best decided by the local school systems.
Forcing the schools to still end at the same calendar date (with the missed time) as other systems that may never have missed school days is forcing those students to take state tests without the same preparation time and affect school performance grades. That can be really severe to school systems who are already dealing with the after effects of weather-related closures.
Those standardized tests being taken by a certain date in no way is even remotely as important as serving the needs of those affected schools and their students.
What if the North Carolina General Assembly gave local school systems the same flexibility to help reschedule missed school days as it grants itself to convene in baseless special sessions that do not really serve the state?
Do the right thing NCGA (and Mark Johnson) and give local school systems calendar flexibility.