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Szeliga: Don't return to 'out of control' school calendars

As a small government conservative, I have consistently advocated for greater local control. However, local control can be corrupted, and that is exactly what happened to most local school boards and the process in which they created their school calendars. This is why Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order to start school after Labor Day was a good and necessary action (“Let school boards decide when classes should begin,” Jan. 28).

To the never-ending annoyance of various Democratic legislators, a post-Labor Day school start remains incredibly popular. We all know school calendars had gotten completely out of control. Take Anne Arundel County, for example. Prior to the executive order, they had 13 extra full days off in addition to the numerous state-mandated days off. Some of these days made sense, others like the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the day for the teacher’s union conference in Ocean City, made zero sense. Instead of being aligned with the best interest of students, the calendars were aligned with the demands of the teacher’s union political leadership.

Not too long ago, Maryland public schools started after Labor Day. What changed? The number of required school days didn’t change, neither did the required number of educational hours. What changed is that the teachers union through their complete dominance over the Maryland Democratic Party slowly forced the school year to expand with largely superfluous full and half days off.

In response to the executive order, school systems have consolidated their calendars. Keeping kids in school during the school year is obviously the better system. It is much more difficult for working parents to find childcare for random days off during the school year than a predictable schedule right up to Labor Day. This is only common sense.

Make no mistake, this is a political power struggle, and the teachers union doesn't have the best interest of our children in mind and neither do the legislators they control who are actively trying to undo the governor’s executive order.

Standing up to powerful and well-funded special interests and the people who do their bidding is why I ran for office and I am calling on my like-minded colleagues to do the same.

Kathy Szeliga, Annapolis

The writer, a Republican, represents District 7, Baltimore and Harford counties, in the Maryland House of Delegates where she also serves as minority whip.

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