State Sen. Brad Hawkins is pleased to learn that several Washington school districts are looking into whether taking shorter breaks throughout the year – and trimming the traditional summer break – will help prevent annual learning loss and the need for fall reteaching.
A KING-TV story reports that, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, 18 school districts and one charter school are using grant funding to explore shortening the traditional summer break to allow for what’s known as a balanced school calendar.
“We need to think big about reforming the system and to get serious about exploring better opportunities for student learning. A more ‘balanced school calendar’ that avoids that big, long break in the summer could really help students,” said Hawkins. “I certainly support a summer break for kids and their families, but I think the typical break that school districts take is too long and it’s an outdated model.”
During the 2021 legislative session, Hawkins prime-sponsored a bill to encourage school districts to explore school calendar reforms. Hawkins’ bipartisan legislation, Senate Bill 5147, included funding pilot projects for districts to apportion their 180 state-funded school days differently, including shortening their summer break to no more than six weeks.
The school-calendar reform bill was amended and passed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee but was not approved by the full Senate earlier this year. Hawkins hopes SB 5147 will either advance through the Legislature during the upcoming 2022 session or continue to gain attention within the education community to encourage districts to explore modernizations on their own.
“The fact that so many school districts across Washington are now showing interest in reforming their school calendars is a sign that prior efforts to encourage districts to ‘think differently’ are working,” said Hawkins. He added, “We should continue to emphasize how changes can be beneficial for students and taxpayers.”
Hawkins is the ranking Republican member on the Senate’s Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. Hawkins served for 10 years on the Eastmont School Board and North Central Educational Service District Board before being elected to the Legislature
These links provide more information about Hawkins’ school-calendar reform bill:
- Reimagine the school year to address ‘learning loss’ (Hawkins – The Seattle Times 2/3/21)
- Hawkins School Calendar Interview (Hawkins – KONA Radio 2/2/21)
- State should encourage schools to think differently about “learning loss”(Hawkins 2/9/21)
- Let’s not squander the chance to reimagine education in Washington state (Claudia Rowe – Crosscut 3/18/21)