L.A. Unified enrollment continues to fall, but drop is cushioned by influx of 4-year-olds
A recent UC Irvine survey of more than 600 students at two nearby campuses found that nearly half had chosen to delay the start of school until the new year, delaying the start of the new school year by a full week and, thus, losing an entire school year.
“I’ve never seen anything like this at UC Irvine so many years in a row,” said UC Irvine professor and education researcher William Deets, referring to the spring start of the new year at more than 10 percent of the schools.
More than 2,000 California students, parents and teachers received surveys in the past month as part of a campaign called “Unschool.” A similar survey was conducted on behalf of the University of California system by researchers including Deets and his co-author Andrew Kliman at the UC Institute for Education Research.
The surveys, funded by the Hewlett Foundation and published in July by KQED and KQED Education, found that about 43 percent of elementary school students and about 30 percent of secondary school students delayed school start by one or more days, according to the survey’s report.
Many students who delayed school now have the benefit of a 4-year-old on the bus who was born, respectively, on April 15 and March 29, according to KQED Education. KQED Education interviewed the students, who said they feared that starting school was just too stressful and that they would get too overwhelmed by the early start time.
“Not starting school for kids is a really hard problem, because those kids are so excited,” said Deets. “Even if they’ve decided not to go, it can be a really traumatic experience for them.”
Students were asked whether they’d prefer to start schools as usual — or later — without giving reasons. About 10 percent said they preferred a later start time, while about 90 percent said they would prefer to start school earlier or not at all, said Deets.
“It’s almost like a rebellion,” said Deets. “They’re not going to start school so that their parents can get to sleep. It’s not a good