Labor Day has come and gone and everyone who should be in school is now there. Here in southwestern Minnesota, kids already have two weeks under their belts because of a three-year experiment that includes a group of schools in the region that decided to start school before Labor Day.
Many kids who had to go back to school early weren't all that thrilled about kissing summer goodbye two weeks early, but by and large the issue of starting school before the Labor Day holiday was blown out of proportion.
The schools that opted to start early didn't choose to do so on a whim, or just because, or to create controversy (even though that was inevitable), they did so with a purpose and didn't make the decision without thought. They wanted kids in school earlier to better prepare them for statewide testing.
Why argue with that?
There were concerns that surfaced this summer from resort owners worried about a decline in late-summer business and also those from people involved with state fair activities, but schools worked to accommodate these families.
No decisions are going to please everyone in a certain school district, but the decisions need to be judged on what's best for our children - their education trumps any side effects that may or may not have come to fruition as a result of an early start. And vacation time with the family, as important and special as it is, isn't as important as preparing students for important testing.
When it comes to our education system and our schools there are bigger fish to fry than the early start date - like how schools have had to cut staff in the last five years, or how prepared our schools are to deal with looming and omnipresent budget issues without much help from the state. Maybe the early start won't make a difference in test results, but that's why it's an experiment. On the other hand, maybe it will benefit the kids. The jury's still out on that until testing takes place and the results come in.
But for now, parents should take heart and realize the schools made this decision in the best interest of the students. They're priority No. 1.