As summer rapidly approaches, students, teachers, businesses and parents alike have a vested interest in protecting these valuable weeks of personal growth and economic development.

In fact, the importance of the summer break has become more and more magnified as many schools statewide have implemented expanded schedules that force students back onto campuses earlier than ever before.

During the 2018-2019 school year, many ISDs across Texas opened their doors as early as the second week of August, shaving weeks off the summer schedule.

On a variety of levels, both personal and financial, it’s a costly decision.

Studies have shown that rest from vacation, or other time off, helps to lessen irritability, depression and anxiety; and in many ways, summer breaks are every bit as important a classroom as the one that includes desks, books and teachers.

For young students, summers mean spending quality time exploring, unleashing creativity, talents and fun. Something as simple as climbing a tree, riding a bike or playing with other neighborhood children can teach more about the world than any online encyclopedia.

Summer jobs for teenagers have a direct correlation to the development of time management and communication skills, as well as teamwork and work ethic. Further, researchers across the country have begun to link summer jobs with a variety of student successes.

For example, a Stanford University study conducted by Jacob Leos-Urbel, associate director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, found that summer jobs can have a positive effect on students’ standardized test scores.

Additionally, according to a University of Pennsylvania study published in Science, a summer jobs program in Chicago significantly reduced crimes committed by at-risk teenagers for as long as a year after they stopped working and returned to school.

The impact is not just on our students, but on our teachers as well. In an October 2018 report, the U.S. Department of Education revealed that more than one-third of the nation’s teachers reported having summer jobs, earning an average additional $3,400 over the summer months.

Teachers with summer jobs outside of the education industry — including hospitality and tourism, a significant seasonal employer for teachers — reported earning $4,000 during the summer months.

The impact reaches Texas businesses as well, as every week that a school district forces students to report early is a week of lost revenue that carries far-reaching implications.

A shorter summer break reduces time for vacations, with less spending for accommodations, entertainment, dining and other purchases. That directly impacts sales tax collected by our cities, local taxes paid to school and transportation districts, and less money that is contributed to the state’s general revenue fund.

According to The Perryman Group, the total economic losses from shifting the school date one week earlier in August includes a projected $1 billion or more in Texas in aggregate spending and $543.2 million in gross product each year, as well as more than 7,500 jobs.

The effect of an earlier school start date has financial consequences, but there is so much more at stake. During summer breaks, teachers pursue additional income, families spend valuable time together and student learning occurs through unique experiences. Add it all up, and there’s little doubt that not protecting our summers equals losses for students, teachers, businesses and families.

This article was initially published at TribalTalk

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