June 17, 2011
Classes will start a day later than planned in September so that teachers have more time to plan how to bring new curriculum standards into their classrooms.
The city’s school schedule had teachers reporting for duty Sept. 6, the day after Labor Day, and students were scheduled to arrive the following morning. Now, students will stay home an extra day while their teachers undergo training in the “common core” curriculum standards being rolled out citywide. The first day of school for students will be Thursday, Sept. 8.
The surprise one-day extension of summer break is the result of an agreement among the city, teachers union, and principals union. Chancellor Dennis Walcott, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, and principals union president Ernest Logan are sending a letter to families today explaining the change.
“While in many classrooms this work is already underway, next year teachers will challenge all of our students to think critically, to read and understand more difficult texts, to do more writing, and to apply the math they are learning in the real world,” the letter reads. “We have heard again and again from principals and teachers that they need more time to plan for this important new instructional work.”
The agreement to change the schedule at a time when the city and teachers union are feuding on several fronts, including over school closures and planned layoffs, signals that there is, as Walcott has said, “energy” behind the new standards. The city also slimmed the first week of school down to two days a year after fighting mightily — but failing — to delay the first day of school last September because the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah the previous week meant the first week of the year had only a single day.
Students won’t have to make up the day because the 2011-2012 school year was scheduled to have 183 days, three more than the state requires, according to Barbara Morgan, a Department of Education spokeswoman. Now it will have 182, the same as this year.
The full letter to parents is below.