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High School Hustle: A plea for Regents relief

Can they please go back to school already?

Once again this morning, I woke up to a sprawl of sleeping teenagers in my home, their books, music and snowboarding equipment scattered about. They had no school today, due to a "citywide chancellor's conference day for teachers and staff,'' whatever that means.

They had no school last week either. And yet, in the weeks leading up to Regents week, they were buried in finals, while the seniors were simultaneously overwhelmed with essays and college application deadlines.
Not that my gang -- a senior and sophomore -- complained. They were thrilled to have the time off, even if I can't help wondering how once again, how I was caught unprepared for this onslaught of unstructured time.

Two years ago, I remember being shocked when I learned that my high-schooler would have no school during Regents Week, which just concluded. Many high schools cancel all classes and turn their attention to providing a second chance for any student who didn't pass the exams last spring.

At the time, I could not believe there would be no school at all during a full week in January, just weeks after coming back from Christmas break. It was too soon after Christmas to make vacation plans, too cold and dark out to arrange athletic events, and too late to plan any community service or other activities. (I admit, I'm not a huge fan of downtime for teenagers, even if they love it).

Some schools do manage to hold classes during Regents Week. Classes, I learned last time around, can be canceled only when so many students are taking the exams it becomes impossible to carry on a regular instruction schedule.

I'm curious how parents of high schools that essentially shut down coped with this extra week off and how they feel about it.

Given budget, staffing and space constraints in New York City's public high schools, does anyone have any idea how Regents Week might be handled better that could be shared with the state education department?

Did any city high schools come up with creative solutions? I'm open to ideas and I'm already planning for next year.

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