Comptroller Peter Franchot today is launching his one-person campaign to mandate that schools wait until after Labor Day to start. We wish him well, but he'll likely have a long and difficult battle.
Last year, no Maryland school system waited until after Labor Day to start classes, although one Eastern Shore school district, Worchester County, voted to do so this year. Classes start Sept. 2.
According to Education Week, 14 years ago there were six Maryland school systems that started after Labor Day.
Starting school after Labor Day has been a cause long promoted by Franchot. Last year, he released a report saying the economic impact would result in a $74.3 million boost to Maryland's economy. The year before that he did a similar campaign.
This year, he got an additional boost in his quest when the state created a task force – The Task Force to Study a Post Labor Day Start Date – to look at the issue. Earlier this year the task force voted 11-4 to recommend the change.
Today, Franchot is planning to kick off his latest "Let Summer Be Summer" petition drive on the boardwalk in Ocean City. Franchot is hoping to collect 10,000 signatures, and said in a press release last week that the petition will be available at hotels and resort locations in Ocean City and Deep Creek Lake, as well as at fairs and festivals throughout the state.
Currently school systems set their own starting date. And school administrators have been a vocal opponent of waiting until after Labor Day to start. They say that the decision should be made locally. That's true, but a lot of their objections could easily be overcome if it was something that they wanted to do. Just look at Worchester for proof.
Maryland isn't alone in this battle. States across the nation that start before Labor Day point to all the jurisdictions that start after Labor Day as examples of how it can be done fairly easily. There's even a Facebook page with about 333 followers that chronicles battles in states near and far.
Labor Day is traditional end of the summer vacation season. But then, Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start, and kids in most schools are still attending classes
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Whether Franchot's petition drive gets any traction this year remains to be seen. But ultimately, it should be parents working in conjunction with school systems determining the best starting day for the new school year.