When I was in grade five, March break promised a wonderful time where I could just play, play, play. Nowadays, looking at it through the lens of a single working parent, it’s not so deliciously simple.
Our education system was structured in an era that saw families living on a single income. One parent worked at a job (for pay), and the other worked at home (typically without pay).
Today’s harsh reality is that single-income homes exist only when there is no other choice (i.e. it’s run by a single parent). Fact of the matter is that the costs of living over the past 40 years have escalated, and wages have not kept pace. According to a UBC study, incomes have flatlined since the 1970’s whereas housing costs have skyrocketed 76 per cent. These numbers account for inflation. Nowadays, March break is a gross inconvenience. Why? Because March break in today’s framework means that parents — whether it’s one or two — need to either dole out extra money for expensive day camps or take time off work — which can be equally expensive when measured in terms of lost income. And when that one week threatens to become two, it can consume the entire annual vacation entitlement of one parent. It means choosing between time off in March or at Christmas time.
That’s asking a lot. Especially of single parents who don’t have a second calendar to fall back on.
Bottom line: A two-week spring break is primarily a cost-saving strategy for school boards. According to the Vancouver Courier, school board closures in their district returns a savings of about $100,000 a day. Whatever the district, downloading that cost to parents is just another hidden tax. One we can certainly do without.