Based totally on the agrarian need for farm labor, the school year was purposely set to not interfere with the cycle of crop growth and harvest. Family plots needed to be worked and the demand for labor got more immense during the growing season; family members were the logical choice. Schools were closed for the summer and the child workforce stayed at home for the summer months. But the family plots have been replaced by a mechanized workforce. Besides the family garden, most children have all but been forgotten from the family farm. In addition, some teachers also double as small farmers. They are anxious for summer vacation, so they can work their plots and not work in the local schools.
In the State of Utah as with most other states, the required 180 days of formal school are required. Utah also has an expectation of 990 hours of formal instruction per school year. During the 1980’s, expectations begin to change across the United States with a call for an increase in the amount of time spent in the classroom. Some states increased hours of instruction and some increased days of the school year. Other created innovative school years that allowed buildings to be used all year long with rotating sections taking “summer” breaks in pieces throughout the year. While it appears that the 180 day school year has been good for the American student, other industrialized nations expect far more from their kids but the proof still is not accepted that longer school years produce better students. The current rally is for quality not quantity. In Garfield County, some kids still help out on the family farm and others may be involved in the summer tourist business. Whatever the case, school burnout and fatigue can be alleviated for both students and teachers by allowing each a break from one another. We have a name for that around here; it’s called a summer vacation.
Tracy Davis, Superintendent – Garfield County School District