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The State of NoVa
Posted at 04:45 AM ET, 08/30/2011

How did Loudoun schools start early? Here’s how

Loudoun schools Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III has long argued in favor of sending students to school in late August to maximize instructional time before spring standardized tests. This year, and this year only, he gets his wish. (Loudoun County Public Schools)
The Commonwealth of Virginia is renowned for its statewide edict that Thou Shalt Not Start School Before Labor Day. Known as “the King’s Dominion Law,” it prevents a reasonable extension of the school year, as advocated by countless educators, school districts and most other states, in order that the state and its leisure outlets might collect one more week of money. And so that parents might spend one more week with the little...darlings.

So how did Loudoun County manage to start school Monday? The Post’s Emma Brown found that snow days over the years totaled up enough to win the county a waiver of the King’s Dominion Law. You have to have averaged at least eight closed school days over any five of the last 10 years, the state law says, and apparently Loudoun made it.

But the push to eliminate the hard Labor Day Tuesday start date — both by counties who would like to have their say in how their school year goes, and education experts who say that American summer vacation is too long — apparently has little traction in the face of the Virginia tourism industry’s lobbying effort.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) of Fairfax said, “I’d like to have a better reason than someone looking me straight in the face and saying, ‘We should be able to if we want to.’” Educators and parents could give Saslaw numerous sound reasons — wasted classroom time in the weeks after the Standards of Learning tests are given; measured cognitive drop-offs after months out of school; falling further behind other countries who don’t take three months off; and having to spend three bleeping months with the little...darlings.

Other legislators said the push to amend the law or reduce vacations in Virginia is gaining steam. The rest of Brown’s story is here.

By  |  04:45 AM ET, 08/30/2011

Categories:  Loudoun County, Schools | Tags:  summer vacation, Virginia

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