In 2002, I was about to come to Mexico to teach at the American School in Puebla. I had a friend who taught there the year before I went, so I asked her, “What were your biggest frustrations there?”
Topping her list: they could never tell her exactly when the last day of school would be.
Now, this sounds awfully odd. We come from a state that is required to have 180 days of school. So if school starts on August 20, they calculate all the holidays, teacher inservices, and vacations and before the previous school year ends. We ALL know when the next school year will finish.
How It Works–officially
However, in Mexico, this isn’t so cut and dry. On paper it is. Officially, kids are supposed to go to school for 200 days. (That’s a whole extra month more than a 180 day year. My son went to all 200 days last year. It suuuuuucked.) Last year they added a new caveat: if the teachers decide to add an extra half hour to the school day (15 minutes earlier and 15 minutes later), they could then have a 185-day school year.
This year, my kids’ school day was increased by an HOUR AND A HALF, so I thought for sure that they’d qualify for this 185-day school year.
Nope. The teachers kept insisting that the end of school was July 13. Then it became July 9th. I figured I’d take what I could get. Even the 9th of July was a week earlier than last year!
However, private schools, because they have longer hours (and in order to convince parents to pay the tuition and registration fees they pay, they presumably have to prove that they provide a better education than public schools) often get out earlier. Long story short, someone from the Secretary of Public Education is supposed to go to every school that wants to get out early and evaluate whether or not they really have finished the program of instruction satisfactorily a few weeks early.
This is why the American School of Puebla couldn’t give me or my friend a fixed date for the last day of school–they were waiting for the superintendent to give them the go-ahead to officially end the school year early.
(Here in Saltillo, or maybe in 2018, they’ve gotten more streamlined, because the American School here said their last day was June 15th this year and it WAS June 15–even though the official end of the school year according to the SEP is July 17th.)
How It Works–in reality
In my kids’ public preschool, they’ve always had school up until the very last official day, according to the Secretary of Public Education (SEP). Lots of kids would stop going once June was done, but the teachers would insist on going to the bitter end.
So, imagine my surprise when after a meeting in daughter’s first grade class in early July two years ago, the teacher–without warning–announced that that day was the last day of school.
So . . . you mean we’re free for the summer? Already?
Not being one to argue, I didn’t push the issue.
No fuss, no fanfare. We’re just DONE.
This year, now that both of my kids have been liberated from the We-Go-To-the-Bitter-End Preschool, I was kind of hoping that they’d continue the tradition of randomly letting us out early.
On Monday, I wasn’t surprised when The Girl came home, announcing that all the kids who had a straight-A average didn’t have to go back to school anymore. She was done. However, she did want to go back on Tuesday, because the teacher said they’d make slime. (And that, my friends, is why she gets straight As. She was allowed to be done, but no–she still insists on going to school.)
Driving to school on Tuesday, I noticed that the streets were abnormally quiet. Then I remembered–Mexico was playing Sweden for the final game of the first round of the World Cup at 9am. Of course no one was going to school.
I checked with the teachers to see if there were enough kids at school to make it worth their while to stay the whole day. The Boy’s teacher said, “No–yesterday was the last day!”
“So there’s no more school?”
“Nope. Just come on the 3rd to sign his report card.”
So, thank you World Cup. Whether or not that was the reason to finish school this past Monday or not, I’m looking forward to two weeks of vacation that I wasn’t sure we’d get!