How the Economy Sends us to School

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We spend around 2,400 days of our lives in this system, and we have no say in those days. Seven hours a day, 185 days of the year, we are in the same building. But the people spending these seven hours aren’t the ones deciding the timing of them—businesses make these decisions for us. What I’m talking about is how our N.C. yearly school schedule reflects more the interests of the tourism industry rather than the those of the students.

Every year for three months, most of the under-18-year-old portion of the U.S. population (around 22.9%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau) becomes completely unoccupied and ripe-for-the-taking by the American tourism industry. During these summer months, most Carrboro families take trips to visit family in other states, see new places or just hang out at the beach. And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work.

By creating this massive market for commercial America, our public school schedules—and, by extension, those of most private/charter schools—have become part of a carefully crafted system that provides business owners around the country with a massive and dependable source of income. Are we as a state really okay with our public schools being scheduled by business owners? Beyond that, our current schedule gives students only three minutes between classes, which gives the school day a nonstop feeling that can be overly stressful to students.

However, it doesn’t need to be this way. There’s a better school schedule; one that would give students more structure and make the year feel more spaced out. That schedule is simple: nine weeks on, two weeks off, for four quarters—and then a full four week break between each grade year. This satisfies both the district’s 185-day-per-year requirement, while still making the sub-18-year-old population available for commercial exploitation for a full month out of the year.

The benefits don’t stop there. With a full two weeks between each quarter, school becomes more structured, and student stress goes down thanks to the consistent and extended break time. Families will also still find it easy to take their yearly vacation, and may even find that crowds are smaller if they go to Disneyland during the two-week winter break instead of during the spring or summer.

But this still isn’t the perfect system. The second component of a perfect school schedule is equally as simple though: block schedules. Not only do block schedules allow students to have a more meaningful amount of class time everyday, but the 90 minute classes allow a standard course to be completed in one semester—meaning that students can take eight courses per year. Add that up and you can satisfy your 22-credit graduation requirement within just three years of high school. This in turn allows for more flexibility in class scheduling and creates more time in students’ schedules for extracurriculars and career development.

A combination of a four-class per-day block schedule and nine weeks on, four weeks off, would benefit students, teachers and parents, as well as continue to sustain the U.S. commercial machine. It is absolutely nonsensical for our education system to remain in its current state, which creates stressed students and is commercially-controlled; it’s up to us students to push change in that system.