“Will I See You in September?” Labor Mobility and the Standard School Calendar

William A. Fischel

in Making the Grade

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226251301
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226251318 | DOI:
“Will I See You in September?” Labor Mobility and the Standard School Calendar

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This chapter offers indirect evidence that school districts were able to evolve from one-room pedagogy to an age-graded system without a conscious, top-down organizer. The chapter offers evidence that the system of public schooling that evolved in the twentieth century was responsive to migration. A specific example of nearly spontaneous order is the coordination of school calendars, which is a marker for coordination of other aspects of school curricula. It turns out that the modern school year, which starts near the end of summer and ends at the beginning of the next summer, is a worldwide standard. Its purpose is to allow teachers and families with children to end school in one place, use a cost-minimizing season to move to another place, and begin the school year along with the preexisting students and teachers in their new home. The transition from irregular calendars to the standard system was occasioned by the widespread adoption of age-graded schooling. Age-graded education has a grim logic to it that makes it difficult to undertake rapid reforms. As a result, efforts that work on either end of K-12 education—preschool and postsecondary education—are the more viable candidates for restoring American pre-eminence in education.

Keywords: labor mobility; standard school calendar; pedagogy; public schooling; education

Chapter.  15344 words. 

Subjects: Microeconomics

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