August starting dates popular with some

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2010

By JASON MAYFIELD/Guest Columnist

August is a wonderful time to be a teacher even if the Septemberist Lobby tries every year to destroy the fun.

What’s that? You’ve never heard of the Septemberist Lobby?

It’s a super-secret society whose name I made up but whose people are very real with their agenda: Schools were better off starting in September.

“So when do you go back?” is typically the question I get in August from a September Lobbyist.

“Oh, we’re already back, started about a week ago.”

“Good heavens! Why I remember when school didn’t start until…”

It’s at this point when you learn the age of the September lobbyist.

Under 40, and they’ll remember starting in late August.

Under 60, and they’ll remember starting after Labor Day.

Under 80, and they’ll remember starting whenever the crops were finished. Under 100 (my grandmother’s age), and they’ll remember whatever they want to remember, thank you very much (love you, Grandmother).

September starts seem to be popular, particularly so this year when it appears BP “cleaned” the beaches just in time for everyone to return to the classroom.

Is an early August start needed? I wouldn’t have taken seven paragraphs to ridicule a mythical opponent if I didn’t think so. Imagine (insert your favorite college football team) playing for a national championship a month early this year.

Think your team’s coach would like to start workouts a month earlier too?

High-stakes testing has become the schools’ championship, and its April timing means that the earlier the students start, the earlier those 180 days begin. In fact, just as you wouldn’t see Alabama or Auburn playing after the bowl game, it really makes little sense nowadays for schools to continue after testing.

To finish in April though, you’d have to start in July, and that’s a bit too radical. So for now, August will have to do.

You September Lobbyists can go ahead and admit that you like it too. You’re ready for your children to be in someone else’s hands, right? Particularly when those hands are teacher geeks like me who have awaited the start of school just as much as the average student avoids summer reading.

Besides, the cross country, football, volleyball, band, cheerleaders and any other team working out in this weather is ready for two-a-days to be over and a little air-conditioning.

Jason Mayfield is a gifted education instructor at Columbiana Middle School.