Draft Education Bill Would Have Legislature Expanding North Dakota School Year


North Dakota is having a debate over the start of the school year. Petitioners put Measure 8 on the statewide ballot which would require that all school districts start their fall terms after Labor Day.

According to some recent polling, Measure 8 stands a pretty good chance of passing.

But one concern some have with passing Measure 8 is that by delaying the school start date, it will push the school end date further into the spring months. What’s more, a draft bill approved recently by the interim Education Funding Committee (I wrote about the fiscal aspects here) actually lengthens the school year.

Currently teachers get at least two “professional development” days during the school year. The draft bill would move that up to three starting in the 2016-2017 school year, and it eliminates the option of providing that third day by shortening a regular school day.

Though the bill (read it here) does eliminate the requirement that schools do not schedule instruction time during the annual two-day teachers union statewide convention. Which I suppose is the trade-off. The protection for the annual teachers union meeting is removed from law in exchange for teachers getting a mandatory third day of professional development:


I like the idea of removing the union convention from state law, but why do teachers need any days off for professional development during the school year? It’s clear that parents are already concerned about the length of the school year. Teachers already get roughly three months a year off during which time they can pursue whatever continuing education or side-business opportunities they wish.

Why do we need to insert these things into an annual school calendar is already too complicated?

It would be nice to see the professional development days moved to the summer months. But if that can’t be accomplished, at the very least let’s not lengthen the school year by adding professional development days to the calendar.