September 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

LETTER

Late school start good for families, schools

The Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association (MLTA) appreciates the opportunity to respond to The Detroit Newsí August 26 editorial, ďLate School Start Doesnít Help Kids,Ē which appears to be based on the false premise that starting school after Labor Day somehow harms student achievement outcomes.

A simple review of the facts indicates otherwise. When the law was passed in 2005, the length of the school year remained unchanged at roughly 180 days or 1,098 instructional hours.

As such, whether the new school year starts on the first Tuesday following Labor Day or on January 1 is immaterial to the amount of instruction for our kids. The length of student instruction time mandated by the state remains the same as it has been for decades.

Another factor remains largely unchanged, and thatís the level of voter support for Michiganís Post-Labor Day School law.

A statewide survey recently confirmed what similar surveys have found since the law was passed. This yearís poll of 1,874 likely voters conducted by Mitchell Research & Communications on August 19 found that 73 percent percent of voters support starting after Labor Day.

Our children grow up all too quickly, and it appears that many parents want to vacation and generate lifelong family memories during the predictably warmer summer months.

Some travel to other states, but happily, most families vacation right here in Michigan.

Thatís good news for our economy.

Itís important to remember that tourism is Michiganís third largest industry and generates

$17.7 billion in economic activity, over 200,000 jobs and nearly $1 billion in state tax revenue. Understandably, the majority of these contributions to Michiganís economy are generated during the summer, especially in the months of July and August.

The Pure Michigan campaign has led to dramatic increases in tourism outcomes which have helped further diversify and strengthen our stateís economy. Higher hotel occupancy and tourism outcomes have served to enhance the assessed value of the thousands of lodging properties and tourism businesses that operate in Michigan.

This has all led to higher property tax receipts which provide even more funding for local schools at a time when such increases are sorely needed. MLTA firmly believes that thereís a direct correlation between strong tourism outcomes and stronger funding for schools and, therefore, more resources to advance educational outcomes.

Finally, this summerís cooler-than-usual weather aside, we wonder how pushing kids into classrooms without air conditioning in the dog days of August advances student achievement.

Often times, the most accurate way to assess a proposal happens to be the simplest.

For certain, Michigan faces some exceedingly tough questions as to how best to improve educational outcomes for our children. Voter opinion, economics and common sense tell us that starting school in August is not one of the answers.

Steve Yencich, president and CEO

Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association