UNITED STATES—Whether you are native to a particular region or someone who has emigrated from one country to another, identifying a reputable school for your children is imperative.
There is a difference in attitude between indigenous residents and those who have relocated from overseas, however, with the latter more likely to adapt to local state laws and the former increasingly keen on influencing them. This has historically been the case with the debate and creation of Texas legislature, where pressure from parents who demand more vacation time (aligned with concerns from the tourism sector) have helped to support state limits on how early school terms can start.
While Texas law forbids classes starting before the fourth Monday in August, however, Amarillo locals will have noticed that the local high school has been buzzing with activity since August 16th as students returned to school. So why is this the case, and how have locals reacted to the premature start of term?
Introducing a New State Law
The controversy surrounds an enacted 2015 state law, which has created so-called ‘Districts of Innovation’ that are allowed to override specific state education rules such as teacher requirements, class sizes and, more pertinently, term dates. This law has been embraced by the local authorities in Texas, with more than half of the state’s students having been able to bypass the start-date restriction so far. Amarillo just so happens to be one of the busiest regions before the official start date of August 28th, however, with all five districts voting to enact the new law.
The governing bodies in Amarillo and throughout Texas have also taken the opportunity to augment other breaks throughout the year, too. There is a new, our day Fall Break weekend in October, for example, while another weekend break in February has been extended from three to four days. These small but significant changes not impressed local parents, who are far from happy at being able to spend less time with their children during the summer and having less of an opportunity to prepare thoroughly for the new term. This is understandable, as the earlier start date also gives parents just three days between the end of the annual, tax-free holiday and the opening day of a potential new term.
The Economic Fall-out and Likely Outcome
This is an important development if you are planning to relocate to Texas, of course, but it has undoubtedly hit locals and regional businesses hard. The tax-free holiday period, which will run from 11th to the 13th August this year, reduces the cost of buying school supplies and the new term date may force parents to shop outside of this. Similarly, families may be required to slash their vacation time and spend less during the summer break, which will deal a blow to tourism businesses and the local economy.
This is certainly a space to watch with interest, but there is no doubt that the school authorities are embracing the change and striving to create an educational schedule that benefits the children’s learning.