Public-school start dates have become earlier and earlier in Idaho, but the vacation and hospitality industry has said nothing about the effects on its business. It’s time it spoke up.
When the nation was more rural, schools started when children could finally be excused from harvest-time labors on family farms. Factory farming and the decline of rural communities made that a nonissue.
Some school districts nationwide have moved the start of the school year to as early as the last week of July. According to Pew Research, just 23 percent of students in the U.S. now start school after Labor Day.
Changes have been made with little discussion, inconclusive research and scant consideration of their effects.
Not every state has gone along. Laws in Michigan and Virginia prohibit school starts before Labor Day because of the impacts on vacation spending.
Earlier dates are being driven by state requirements for more instructional days and standardized tests, and the desire to schedule semester finals before year end.
The unspoken assumption behind increasing school days is that more will lead to higher achievement. The research on that assumption is all over the block.
With July and August the prime business months of the year in Idaho’s resort communities, the impacts of earlier school starts deserve consideration.
Resort business associations need to speak up. Cities need to look at impacts on sales tax revenues.
If public policy adversely affected Wal-Mart, Exxon or General Motors, there would be pushback. Idaho’s vacation industry should stand up for itself.