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Popsicles, Sandcastles and ... Homework?

Photograph by Getty Images

’Twas the night before public school and all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring ... certainly not any bummed out little boys who knew they had to be up at 6 a.m.!

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Hey LAUSD, WTF?

It’s August 11th and tomorrow my summer lovin’ carefree 7 and 11-year-olds are putting on shirts with collars and slinging knapsacks on their shoulders to head back to school in Los Angeles. I should be dancing a jig. I mean I haven’t had an independent hour of daylight, or heard anything I want to listen to wafting through the speakers of my car in eight weeks. (It’s amazing what you miss when your adult freedoms are encroached on by encroachables. Note: Kids don’t really enjoy self-help books on tape.)

I should be thrilled.

But instead I feel like I need a new book on letting go of guilt. I hate that they have to start homework this week. I was lamenting about my mixed feelings to a friend this morning and her response gave me an insight in to why I have them. “What makes it bittersweet,” she said in the dry and direct way she says everything, which is why I love her, “is how inconsistent the schooling is here, how lacking in uniformity it is. My husband (a high school economics teacher) went back to work today, one of my sons goes back in two weeks and the other one is still home. It’s crazy making. Plus for everyone else, it’s still very much summer, so my workload (as a kids’ swim teacher) has not slowed down at all.”

I’ve already promised the boys that summer is not over for us.

Yes! The lack of uniformity is the drag of educating kids in LA. My older boy has friends from pre-school with whom he has stayed close but who all go to private school now, and they too, don’t start for another few weeks. He loved his magnet elementary school and despite the timing, is looking forward to his new middle school, but when he’s feeling sulky about his truncated summer he will say, “My other friends aren’t going back for two weeks, it’s totally not fair.” He’s not wrong. It’s not fair, but since the 2012-2013 school year, it js what it is.

Like a lot in life — so that’s a good lesson right there.

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I did some cyber snooping and it turns out the people who passed this change in the school calendar back in December 2011 didn’t do so haphazardly. They believe that it’s a better choice academically, that students retain more information with less summer break, and that the new schedule aligns better with higher learning. People making decision about education who actually care about retention and higher learning? How conflicted can I be?

And I’ve already promised the boys that summer is not over for us. We’ll keep eating extra ice cream, schlepping out to the beach on the weekends, and they still don’t have to listen to “Reorganize Your Closets, Change Your Life.”

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