Skubick: Move returns in Capitol to open public schools before Labor Day

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Lawmakers are re-opening the debate over preventing schools from opening before Labor Day and there are indications that there’s been a significant shift in attitude in the legislature on this.

In 2005 the state’s third largest industry, tourism, finally convinced state lawmakers to keep our schools closed until after Labor Day but now it looks like the education lobby is winning the fight to lift that mandate.

Peter Spadafore of the Michigan Association of School Boards insists “this mandate needs to go.”

“It would destroy the month of august for tourism,” adds Jack Schripsema of the Lansing Convention Bureau.

A House committee handed the tourism industry a defeat last week by moving legislation to remove the Labor Day mandate and give schools the option to open before the last holiday of the summer season.

But a new twist was added to the legislation.

Schools could open in August but would not meet on every Monday and Friday.

The education lobby argues, students need six weeks to re-learn what they forgot over the summer.

The head of the Lansing Convention Bureau contends schools can get a waiver from the state to start early and lifting the mandate is bad for business.

“I think it would be disastrous on tourism,” adds Schripsema. “Especially during August when many of the businesses earn enough revenue to keep in business.”

The education lobby counters that students are at football or band practice in August so why not open the classrooms, too.

“It’s time to stop pretending that school doesn’t start before labor day,” said Spadafore. “We need to get students back in the classroom learning. This mandate was put in place in response to dollars and had nothing to do with academics.”

The House could vote on this this week and it looks like it will pass.

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