One of our members, Jennifer Chandler, asked why I haven’t addressed the Furlough Fridays issue on the Education Beat yet.

“Or is that what we’re supposed to discuss and bring to the table? If so, where is the appropriate place to raise the discussion? I really believe that this will significantly affect student achievement in the short-term AND the long-term.”

I’m glad Jennifer asked what a lot of other people are probably wondering. After all, “Furlough Fridays” is a household term in Hawaii homes today, and it is definitely a big spot on my radar right now. I am working on articles and background info on them as we speak.

What I don’t want to do is rehash the issue and tell you things you have already heard three dozen times. I want to boil it down so it is easy to understand, and maybe give you something a little extra to think about.

The board of education announced the furloughs in 2009 as a response to the state cutting the department of education budget for the 2009-2011 school years. But few took notice until parents, teachers and the rest of us began to realize what a significant decision it was to shut down Hawaii’s public schools and send students home for 17 days out of this school year and another 17 out of the next. And maybe another 17 the year after that.

We know the furloughs are putting our keiki out of the classroom. The loss of 17 instructional days in one year might not have a noticeable long term effect, David Grossman, the interim dean for the education division at Chaminade University, told me. But he also said if the furloughs continue, there will likely be a negative impact. We just don’t know what it is yet.

I am interested to hear more of your perspective on how the furloughs will affect student achievement. That’s the focus of an article I’m working on. What are your thoughts?

And Jennifer, this is the perfect place to raise the discussion! This is exactly what I want from this forum: your contributions and questions. Keep it up. I’m thrilled you are here.

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