In a recent memo to members of the Boston School Committee, Boston Superintendent Tommy Chang laid out a proposal to remove February break from the calendar and replace it with a longer December vacation.

The plan, which if adopted would begin in the 2018-2019 school year, would help eliminate an increase in absences around the time of winter vacation. “Our attendance data indicates that many of our students are not back in the country in early January, resulting in significant amount of absences at the start of the winter term,” said Chang in the memo. In addition to preventing absences, Chang’s proposal to forgo February break would help the school year from being as disjointed as it is now with both February and April breaks.

“These changes to schedules and calendars, not that they aren’t sometimes worth making if there is a clear educational benefit for example... are very costly from the standpoint of political capital, both inside the system in terms of union and employees of the school system, as well as outside the system in terms of parents and the community and students for that matter,” said former Secretary of Education Paul Reville on Boston Public Radio Thursday. “You’ve got to have a really strong reason for doing it, there’ve got to be to be clear payoffs because the price is very high”

On the surface, Reville says that he does not see any educational benefit from removing February break and believes that the political capital that Chang would have to assert to achieve his proposal is not worth the perceived outcome. Potentially having more school days for students does not necessarily translate to more education. “In all matters of time in education, it’s like money, it’s like autonomy, it’s how you use it that makes a difference. More time in of itself doesn’t confer any advantages,” said Reville.  

Paul Reville is the former Secretary of Education. Listen to his interview with Boston Public Radio above.