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Thread: Attention Mat-Su families wanting a more hunter friendly school schedule

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    Member ERL's Avatar
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    Default Attention Mat-Su families wanting a more hunter friendly school schedule

    The Mat-Su Borough School District is soliciting input from the public on the 2015-2016 school year calendar. Check out this link:

    http://matsuk12.us/site/default.aspx...35815&PageID=1

    This is our chance as hunters to tell the school district that we want a more hunt friendly school schedule. When I first moved to the valley school didn't start until after Labor Day. That was great for hunting families because it meant we could do a sheep hunt and other hunts before school even started. But a few years back that all changed and we started school in mid August. Since then it has started earlier and earlier each year. This last year teachers started August 7th. That trend needs to reversed.

    If you have the time take the survey. It only asks 4 questions and allows a section for comments so it can be real quick. Please take some time and urge the district to start latter in August for a more hunter friendly calendar. Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ERL View Post
    The Mat-Su Borough School District is soliciting input from the public on the 2015-2016 school year calendar. Check out this link:

    http://matsuk12.us/site/default.aspx...35815&PageID=1
    Good Post!

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    Personally, I think school should be year round. with 2 one month 'breaks' June and Dec.....The only reason it hasn't gone to year round is because of NEA...

    Most schools don't have an issue with kids being pulled out for 5 days for a family vacation. We used to do it every year during hunting season.

    ERL, you wouldn't happen to be a teacher would you? LOL If school (for kids) is starting mid/late Aug, kids/families can still go moose hunting (I think), goat hunting, sheep hunting...even caribou hunting in some places.
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    Yup that's what we did for years, usually my make up home work was to write a short essay about the things I saw and learned while out on the hunt with dad.
    Problem is, hunting teachers are screwed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JuliW View Post
    Personally, I think school should be year round. with 2 one month 'breaks' June and Dec.....The only reason it hasn't gone to year round is because of NEA...

    Most schools don't have an issue with kids being pulled out for 5 days for a family vacation. We used to do it every year during hunting season.

    ERL, you wouldn't happen to be a teacher would you? LOL If school (for kids) is starting mid/late Aug, kids/families can still go moose hunting (I think), goat hunting, sheep hunting...even caribou hunting in some places.

    This is rather ignorant and arrogant. The current school calendar does notreflect the culture of Alaska. All fall hunting and gathering activities arerestricted. Itís not about one week of hunting that is lost. Its berry picking,silver fishing, duck hunting, trout fishing, fall colors and the outdoorlifestyle that gets cutoff mid-August because of erroneous school calendarslike these.

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    Good luck with your quest to get things changed. It will likely be an uphill battle.

    When Anchorage made the change 9 years ago, I was the only person to testify in person before the school board. That said, there were ~80 pages of written testimony submitted, and 75% of that centered around subsistence-based/family-based concerns - berry picking, hunting, fishing, etc. Despite all of that testimony, such concerns did not make the list of the topics considered by the district per the testimony of one district official. In discussions with one board member after the fact, the gentleman told me that he was assured that lost opportunities in the fall would be made up for with gained opportunity in the spring. Needless to say, that is not remotely true. There are no fish in the rivers in May, no berries to pick, and beyond black bear, not much in the way of food hunting opportunities.

    Unfortunately, as Anchorage goes so goes the rest of the state, and within a year almost every district statewide had made the shift. Kids and families have paid the price in lost opportunities. Yes, of course, as a teacher who hunts I have some bias here. That said, my primary concern is the shift I have seen in family hunting practices. There are still families who take their kids out of school for a few days or a week here or there for their annual trips, but they are becoming the exception rather than the norm. In the years following the change I had more than a handful of parents tell me that they never take their kids hunting anymore, as the cost of missing substantial amounts of school became too much to bear as their kids grew older and started taking more challenging courses. One mother broke down crying at my desk during parent teacher conferences as she recounted the lost opportunities as her son approached graduation and adulthood.

    Our current schedule does very little to benefit students academically, and is overtly harmful to the many thousands of families that still take part in outdoors pursuits. I sure hope you can get somewhere with this effort, as perhaps then Anchorage will take notice. I'm not holding my breath, but it sure would be sweet to change things to a post-Labor Day start once more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan Gunner View Post

    This is rather ignorant and arrogant. The current school calendar does notreflect the culture of Alaska. All fall hunting and gathering activities arerestricted. Itís not about one week of hunting that is lost. Its berry picking,silver fishing, duck hunting, trout fishing, fall colors and the outdoorlifestyle that gets cutoff mid-August because of erroneous school calendarslike these.
    Well said! My folks moved up here in the sixties drawn to this type of life style. My father taught here in Anchorage for twenty five years and was able to enjoy a decent fall hunting season. He got out at the right time. When I started teaching here, we started around Labor Day as well. It was nice to be able to chase sheep for a couple of weeks. Not really possible with this calendar any more. The head of middle schools came to our school to talk about the reason for the change. She told us that it was to give the kids an extra ten days of instructional time before standardized testing. I made a snarky, tongue in cheek comment about how the "dumb kids" will still be "dumb" and the "smart kids" will still be "smart" and this change to the calendar year was to further somebody else's agenda. I wonder if test data supports this? The look on my boss's face was priceless. (for the record, I do not make it a habit of calling kids "dumb".)

    As far as taking kids out of school for a week. This is easily done with the little duffers, but not realistic as you get into the more advanced courses offered in high school.
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    Brain hit the nail on the head nothing I can add to that except I agree with his post. My wife is a school teacher in the valley and we are a hunting family she can never go because she is working. If I take my son I dont take him out of school for more than a day becasue Im worried about him getting to fare behind
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    I am a hunting teacher in the valley. Choices have to be made. Do I use my "personal" days to go hunting or use them to go to Hawaii? We get 4 a year and we can save up to have 7. IF the calendar is changed then king salmon fishermen and spring bear hunters complain. Whatever the calendar ends up someone will be mad. I would rather not teach untill June 12th like we have in the past.

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    I have no dog in this fight, but I never let schooling get in the way of my education.

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    We (my family) had this discussion just the other day. I would love for the calendar to get changed back to the way it used to be (start after Labor Day). Now the girls are in High School, its really tough to pull them out for any length of time, without putting them in a tough spot trying to catch up when they return. I filled out the survey, and hope that maybe, maybe the folks out here in the "blue tarp district" still place a fairly high value on hunting traditions and family time, and can get change. I'm really not sure what it was that drove this change in the first place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JuliW View Post
    Personally, I think school should be year round. with 2 one month 'breaks' June and Dec.....The only reason it hasn't gone to year round is because of NEA...

    Most schools don't have an issue with kids being pulled out for 5 days for a family vacation. We used to do it every year during hunting season.

    ERL, you wouldn't happen to be a teacher would you? LOL If school (for kids) is starting mid/late Aug, kids/families can still go moose hunting (I think), goat hunting, sheep hunting...even caribou hunting in some places.
    Julie, not quite. Year round school hasn't happened b/c most parents are not a fan of it.

    Before I moved up here I taught in a district that was pretty much year round. Every 6-8 weeks we had short one week breaks and a very short summer break. June and July. I enjoyed it.



    As far as Mat-Su (which I know nothing about), is there a cultural event excuse to miss school? IMO hunting should be a cultural event that would allow students to be excused for so many days.

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    I'm in a bush district. We start school mid August and get out in mid May. Subsistence activities are weighed when creating our calendar.
    We allow our students to participate in cultural activities and hunting and fishing and berry picking are all part of those approved activities. Heck the schools and the local Tribal corps even collaborate and host cultural camps in the fall. Which is nice for me, b/c I get to tag along with the kids. Otherwise, I have to take personal days off to hunt (which I don't mind doing if I have to).

    We don't get a spring break, or thanksgiving break, which can make for long stretches with no breaks, but it is nice to have most subsistence time frames not interrupted.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Why not look to the Aroostook county folks of northern Maine for an example of what to do to include a culturally significant activity into the school year.

    http://bangordailynews.com/2011/03/1...dgdon-schools/

    The harvest break is coming under the same pressure as our hunting due to the changes in the society in the area. But why not take five days off in September and add them back in come June/May?

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Good luck with your quest to get things changed. It will likely be an uphill battle.

    When Anchorage made the change 9 years ago, I was the only person to testify in person before the school board. That said, there were ~80 pages of written testimony submitted, and 75% of that centered around subsistence-based/family-based concerns - berry picking, hunting, fishing, etc. Despite all of that testimony, such concerns did not make the list of the topics considered by the district per the testimony of one district official. In discussions with one board member after the fact, the gentleman told me that he was assured that lost opportunities in the fall would be made up for with gained opportunity in the spring. Needless to say, that is not remotely true. There are no fish in the rivers in May, no berries to pick, and beyond black bear, not much in the way of food hunting opportunities.

    Unfortunately, as Anchorage goes so goes the rest of the state, and within a year almost every district statewide had made the shift. Kids and families have paid the price in lost opportunities. Yes, of course, as a teacher who hunts I have some bias here. That said, my primary concern is the shift I have seen in family hunting practices. There are still families who take their kids out of school for a few days or a week here or there for their annual trips, but they are becoming the exception rather than the norm. In the years following the change I had more than a handful of parents tell me that they never take their kids hunting anymore, as the cost of missing substantial amounts of school became too much to bear as their kids grew older and started taking more challenging courses. One mother broke down crying at my desk during parent teacher conferences as she recounted the lost opportunities as her son approached graduation and adulthood.

    Our current schedule does very little to benefit students academically, and is overtly harmful to the many thousands of families that still take part in outdoors pursuits. I sure hope you can get somewhere with this effort, as perhaps then Anchorage will take notice. I'm not holding my breath, but it sure would be sweet to change things to a post-Labor Day start once more.
    Brian, not quite true. I have fought against this trend in our district and have won. We want our students and families to be out participating in hunting/gathering activities. We were slated to start work on the 14th this year, but got it changed to the 19th with kids starting on the 25th. We will be done on May 29th. We had 3 moose days built into our calendar also. I think it is a ridiculous change that made schools start so early. I only have to deal with this for 2 more years to retire, but I know this district will continue to value hunting/gathering traditions. And as a teacher, I have highly encouraged my parents to take their kids out of school and I work with them to make it as easy as possible to be gone from my classes. I wish you could have the same schedule, but living in the urban setting where these activities aren't a priority, your probably stuck with it.

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    I asked my kids (freshman/senior) if they wanted to joint my wife and I on a short caribou float hunt the week after school started. They both were worried they'd miss too much and declined. They both remember the difficulty of catching up after a trip to Kodiak. They had most of their homework with them but it was still tough. I'm proud of the importance they put on school, but as an adult I realize not everything important is learned in the classroom. I could have pulled them out anyways but that didn't feel right.

    I vote for after Labor Day!

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    I should mention too, that the fall chum run interferes with start of school. The fish run, when they run. We host a school fish camp in the beginning of every year. Great way to incorporate culture into academics.

    Those of you wanting to take this fight up with your districts, understand that the state has a set of cultural standards that encourages hunting and fishing

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    Quote Originally Posted by northway View Post
    Brian, not quite true. I have fought against this trend in our district and have won. We want our students and families to be out participating in hunting/gathering activities. We were slated to start work on the 14th this year, but got it changed to the 19th with kids starting on the 25th. We will be done on May 29th. We had 3 moose days built into our calendar also. I think it is a ridiculous change that made schools start so early. I only have to deal with this for 2 more years to retire, but I know this district will continue to value hunting/gathering traditions. And as a teacher, I have highly encouraged my parents to take their kids out of school and I work with them to make it as easy as possible to be gone from my classes. I wish you could have the same schedule, but living in the urban setting where these activities aren't a priority, your probably stuck with it.
    That's excellent that you have made some significant changes for the better! I don't expect that we could swing it here in Anchorage, but I'd certainly be willing to fight that battle. Like you, I also encourage my students to go and do everything I can to make it easy on them. As a Biology teacher, I've got it easy, as time spent hunting and fishing is a biology lesson in itself.

  19. #19

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    Now that my kids are bigger and able to hunt, I would like to see our district move toward a later start also. Our first work day was the 7th of August. If we can't get a later start, more personal days would nice....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukon Cornelius View Post
    Julie, not quite. Year round school hasn't happened b/c most parents are not a fan of it.

    Before I moved up here I taught in a district that was pretty much year round. Every 6-8 weeks we had short one week breaks and a very short summer break. June and July. I enjoyed it.



    As far as Mat-Su (which I know nothing about), is there a cultural event excuse to miss school? IMO hunting should be a cultural event that would allow students to be excused for so many days.

    I think the idea of 9 weeks of school with a one or two week break is a great idea. I wish my kids had had a schedule like that. I can see some parents not liking it though, as a result of having to figure out child care. But child care is always a dilemma for working families.

    As for those who think hunting is a cultural activity that school should be scheduled around, I disagree. Kids (in urban areas) don't need a two week hunting trip to learn about the outdoors (or to learn to love participating in outdoor activities). A 3 day weekend with an extra day or two taken off is a great opportunity for small game hunting/camping... Or moose hunt. Or berry picking, or fishing, or whatever. It isn't quantity, it's quality.

    In the end, having classes start later and end later isn't going to change how students are educated - or how many days they are educated..I simply don't think it is wise to have a 3 moth break in education and never have....And I don't understand why the shift to starting in Aug rather than Sept....
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