Daze of My Life/Power Not to the Pupil

by Kenneth B. Lourie

So Potomac residents lost power a few weeks ago; itÕs not like it hasnÕt happened before, or so IÕve been told, repeatedly. Potomac must have a mini-version of Ōthe gridĶ - the computerized, electrical network that blacked out and darkened much of the Northeast, Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto and many parts in between (or rather connected to) on Thursday, Aug. 14.

Closer to home, due to the fast-moving thunder storms that hit Montgomery County on Aug. 26 and surged power into the off-position in many communities, some schools were closed, giving students an unexpected snow-day-or-two-type extended vacation. But given the extra-early school start date - Aug. 26, the Tuesday before Labor Day, instead of the more traditional Tuesday after Labor Day - the cancellations seemed only fair, IÕm sure, to the students. Maybe even to the parents and teachers.

Having a long holiday weekend after school has already begun, rather than using these three days as a final prelude to the educational demands of reading, writing and arithmetic, seems a bit of a momentum stopper. The reality is, when school begins, summer is officially over, regretfully, but truthfully nevertheless. As such, itÕs classroom time to rise up early, catch your bus when and/or where necessary and hit the books, hopefully running, not staggering, from the emotional confusion of a summerÕs final week that hasnÕt quite ended.

This yearÕs return-to-school schedule, however, be it calendar-driven, potential snowfall-canceling-school-days-driven or Board of Education-driven, seems, for reasons a non-parent like me could never begin to understand or appreciate, like a bit of a stretch, in time.

I could semi-understand the need to go backward if the hard and fast school start date was in fact the first Tuesday after Labor Day (in my day it was, anyway), and Labor Day 2003 (always the first Monday in September) was the latest it could possibly be, Sept. 7. But Labor Day 2003, ironically enough, is the earliest the calendar could ever date it to be. So whatÕs the rush?

Kids are still fussing about the early start, naturally; parents are still fussing about it; and now yours truly, a non-student/non-parent is writing about it. Why subject students and parents, teachers and administrators and other employees and support staff to the fits and starts relating to the daze of school openings and closings? WhatÕs the point of starting so early and then stopping and then starting again? IÕm sure that time, or the lack thereof, had something to do with the cause of it, but my concern has more to do with the effect of it.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.