Southern Way

Southern Way

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Summer Break and Child Labor Laws

Perhaps we should notify the Department of Education. In case, the Secretary doesn't communicate with the Department of Labor, several years ago, OK, many years ago, the country enacted these things called "Child Labor Laws." These particular laws prevent the abuse of young children by restricting them from be able to work until an older age. These laws alone brought some civilization to parts of industry during the industrial age that kept us from becoming a nation resembling characters from a Dickens novel, well without the snow. Now, down here, we didn't have that much industry, we were still agrarian.

That brings me to my point, if you were wondering where I was going with this. Traditionally, children worked hard on family farms. No, contrary to popular belief, we all did not live on Tara. The use of slaves was limited to the large plantations and only the few wealthy land owners who could afford them. And, everyone in the antebellum South was not well off. Most farms were mainly family farms, with the entire family, young children included, pulling their weight. Farms in the mid and upper west were the same.

My issue is summer vacation. Traditionally, the school year was set around the farming schedule, so farming children would be home to help with the crops during the summer. When Mr. Deere and Mr. McCormick came along and revolutionized the farming industry and mule drawn plows and hand harvesting went by the way side, few able bodies were needed in the fields to harvest the crops. This coupled with the Child Labor Laws, that were enacted for our children's safety, pretty much legally keep young children out of harm's way and out of the fields. In the northeast, the children could no longer be exploited as cheap labor in the mills and factories. So why are we still on a nine month school schedule?

Oh, sure it is nice for the kids to have a break. And, the teachers will cry fowl by this missive of mine. However, after the three months of fun and frolic, the teachers spend weeks getting the students back up to speed, since the weeks of summer have cleared their minds of the lessons learned in the spring. Year round schooling seems to be the obvious choice here. With breaks of two or weeks between sessions, teacher and students will have mini-vacations. Both will be spared the tedium of remedial lessons. The vacation industry will have business all year round, not just three months in the summer.

Note to DC. The war is over - you won, but, contrary to popular belief, we are doing as well (are as poorly) as the rest of the country, so the boys (and girls) are no longer on the farm. If you're trying to improve education, the summer break can cease.

My niece and nephew were in a year round program and really liked it. The world did not end, the sky did not fall, and the crops were harvested. Just a thought.

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