School Start Date Debate is Very Definition of ‘Rich People Problems’
Recently I clicked past a local news story about people that are up in arms about the start date of the school year. I didn’t realize that this was a controversy, but it seems that there are some people that want school to start after Labor Day. And did you know they even want us to vote on this sort of thing.
I think school should be a year round thing anyways, but let’s focus on this (sarcastic quotes) “issue.”
The chief complaint that advocates for the date change seem to have is that starting school in mid-August conflicts with their family time. This is the very definition of a Rich Person Problem.
Let’s break this down: these people want the entirety of the biggest school district in the state to bend to their will and wait around, not start school, postpone educating our children, until they get back from their cabin in Iowa. They want to disrupt thousands of families’ lives so they can have an extra night in Bloomington to check out Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
The reason I call this a Rich People Problem is this: if a family is able to take regularly scheduled, multi-day vacations then they are outside the norm. If both parents are fortunate enough to have one job each with paid time off (PTO), if they can coordinate that PTO between the two, if they can choose whatever days off they want then they are living in a world most of us don’t.
Obligatory This is Not About Hating Rich People For The Sake Of Hating Rich People Statement: Yes we all want to be independently wealthy and are working towards that day. But, most people don't live in that world right now and we must act based on reality not wish fulfillment.
Regular folks can’t really take more than a couple days off from work at a time. Accumulated PTO is not for vacations, it’s for when weather cancels school or kids are sick. It’s needed for doctor visits, dentist appointments or other emergencies that FORCE people to take time away from employment.
And let’s not forget that even having PTO is a luxury that so many working people do not have. If hourly workers don’t work, they don’t get paid. Time away from work is not something to desire, it’s to be avoided.
Besides, if you just have to take a family vay-kay on August 23rd then do it. Tell the school that little Johnny won't be at school until September 3rd. Why must you make the rest of us part of your attempt at bonding.
And do you really think that forcing a vote on something that is a personal annoyance to you is a wise use of our democracy? What’s next, a vote on whether Sioux Falls will have Thanksgiving on a Wednesday this year because mother is visiting?
We have to drop the charade of the olde tyme family farm, station wagon road trips and other pop culture created myths of American family life. We must be realists and prioritize our resources.
The foundation of economic success and mobility in America is education. It is what has historically given us strength and will be the base of all future greatness. Formal schooling should not even stop in the summer months at all, but that’s a different discussion.
During a time when educational programs are routinely the victims of short-sighted budget madness, when teachers have to beg and borrow for the tools to educate and battle ideologues that want to destroy and sell off our educational system, a pre- or post Labor Day start date is the least of our worries. It is another time and energy wasting ballot folly. Something that is becoming all to common in Sioux Falls.