Supertendent against fewer school days bill
by Paisley Boston
Feb 02, 2014 | 7986 views | 0 0 comments | 311 311 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Mississippi lawmaker has introduce a bill into the legislature to reduce the number of school days because he believes students are not being taught for at least three weeks out of the 180-day school year.

House Education Chairman John Moore said teachers do not teach the week before Christmas and the two weeks before school ends and therefore it is reasonable to cut the school year by at least five days.

West Bolivar Superintendent Henry Phillips disagrees with Moore and he believes that the school year should be extended.

"We need more time in school instead of less time to do the job that we need to do with our students. If you really look at, 180 days is really not enough and to take an additional five days away would not be good," said Phillips.

"Mr. Moore has a habit of making blanket statements and that is never good. If we follow Moore's logic then we need three weeks. Instead of cutting school days by five, just go on and cut it by three weeks," he added.

According to Moore, there is no statistical data that shows any improvement in grades or test scores when the school year went from 170 to 175 and then to 180.

Moore has also said teachers have told him they do not teach the last month of the year.

Phillips said this is not true for the teachers in his school district.

"I think that the teachers in my district teach year round. The only way to prove this is by being in the schools and visiting the classrooms — when I visit the schools, my teachers are teaching," said Phillips.

Phillips said students usually take state mandated tests during the last week of April or the first week of May and the completion of state tests are not indicators of school ending.

"After state testing, it is normally about a two week span before school is out. The district allows teachers to teach things that they enjoy teaching," added Phillips.

"In my district, we try to cover all of the objective in three nine weeks and then we use the fourth nine weeks to go back over and teach skills that have been taught all year long. They try to work on the areas that the children have weaknesses during this time," he continued.

Moore's suggestion is a result of a new school-start law the legislature passed in 2012 that will take effect this fall.

It prohibits schools from starting before the third Monday in August.

Many school leaders opposed the change and have said it would result in removing holidays and having classes into June.

Moore said reducing the number of school days would prevent that.

State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said she’s not in favor of reducing school days and she finds it that hard to believe that Mississippi students aren’t being taught in the final weeks of a school year.

"I hope Moore does not bring his own bill out and if he does I hope that his colleagues have the good since to vote it down," said Phillips.