How schools’ long summer breaks started, why some want the vacation cut short

As summer nears, schools across the country have ended for the year or will soon let out for a lengthy break. Most adults work through the summer, but thanks to outdated medical beliefs, a convergence of rural and city calendars, and educational reforms, kids today enjoy summer vacations.

Schools didn’t always have such a long summer break, Ken Gold, dean of education at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, said. In the early 19th century, schools in cities were typically open year round while schools in rural areas typically had two terms, one in the winter and another in the summer.

“By the end of the 19th century, it hasn’t quite converged on what we have now, but the writing is on the wall,” said Gold, author of “School’s In: Summer Education and American Public Schools.”

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