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Trend: Students go back to school earlier in August

Tuesday - 8/21/2012, 6:43am  ET

Greenbelt Middle School student bus (WTOP/Kristi King)
Students returned to class in Prince George's County Monday. (WTOP/Kristi King)

What do you think of school starting in August? Is it good to get an early start or should school start later? Post a comment in this story, comment on WTOP's Facebook Page or use #WTOPTalkback or #WTOP on Twitter.

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of thousands of students in the Washington area will be in class before the end of August, part of a growing national trend to get kids back in class earlier in the year.

Students in Calvert County and Spotsylvania counties return to class on Tuesday, while students from Prince George's and Fauquier counties went back on Monday.

Many more school systems in the region will open next week, including Montgomery County, Loudoun County and the D.C.

Most Virginia school systems reopen after Labor Day.

Tourism groups and many parents are critical of school starting in August, although there are parents who are relieved they no longer have to deal with kids who complain, "I'm bored," during the dog days of summer.

Across the country, school systems are starting earlier and earlier.

Classes in Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest school district, started on Aug. 14, while many of Chicago's schools opened on Aug. 13.

John Deasy, a former superintendent of schools in Prince George's County, is now the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. He tells The Wall Street Journal he supports the earlier starting dates because they allow for more instruction time and give more time for high school students to prepare college applications.

"This was a purely academic decision for us," he told the newspaper.

But critics say starting school in August cuts short vacations and hurts businesses that rely on tourist dollars during the summer.

Carol Duffin, a parent who lives in Tennessee, tried for years -- unsuccessfully -- to get state lawmakers to bar schools from opening before Labor Day. She tells the Journal she "cringed" when she saw school supplies go up in a local Wal-Mart around July 4.

"We are just wiping the barbecue sauce off our mouths and I am seeing pencil and pens and glue sticks," she said.

Join WTOP at 10 a.m. Tuesday for its Ask the Schools program. School executives from the counties of Fairfax, Prince George's and Montgomery, along with D.C. and the City of Arlington will take your questions. You can tweet your questions using #AskTheSchools.

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WTOP's Mitchell Miller contributed to this story. Follow Mitchell and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)