Monday, September 28, 2009

Longer School Days and Weekends, Too!

American children don't spend enough time in school, according to Team Obama. In fact, schools need to stay open late and on the weekend to accomodate (babysit?) kids.

Via Fox News:

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

"Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

What about time with family? What about kids with jobs? Kids with extra-curricular activities? Kids who are just simply overscheduled? What about the increasing teacher shortage - will a longer school day and weekends help that?

Fox has the stats on the school day around the world:

Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests -- Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).

The administration makes the argument that disadvantaged kids lose time in the summer; they don't accomplish anything. Extreme poverty contributes to hunger which keeps them from learning. If they are at school, they can eat and they can learn.

Disadvantaged kids, on the whole, make no progress in the summer, [Karl] Alexander said. Some studies suggest they actually fall back. Wealthier kids have parents who read to them, have strong language skills and go to great lengths to give them learning opportunities such as computers, summer camp, vacations, music lessons, or playing on sports teams.

Let me suggest that you don't have to be wealthy to be accomplished. Doesn't Obama himself tell the story (often) of how disadvantaged he was when he was growing up and how the dedication of his mother contributed to his success? The whole overcoming adversity thing?

No, I'm not convinced that a longer school day is the answer. I believe more parental involvement is the key. Foster a mentor program for kids that don't have strong parental support, if that's the problem. Tutoring programs. There are already tons of after-school programs for disadvantaged children.

And, "let me be clear", as long as the administration embraces people like Kevin Jennings to lead our educational system, I'm not buyin' what they're sellin'.


Anonymous said...

Just another payoff to the teachers union. More school days=more pay. States are broke now, where will they get the money to pay for the higher expenses?

Chrisknits said...

I agree, keeping kids in school longer will do nothing but babysit them. A former teacher, of my kids, called on the moms of her former students to help her at her new school. We are tutoring her 4th graders in math. These kinds of volunteer programs do more to help a student then sticking them in a classroom over the weekend.

MarySue said...

Kids are massively overscheduled. Getting into college anymore with the necessary scholarship money requires community service, leadership positions, awards. Fitting it all in is a feat in itself.

The time in school can be used more effectively for sure. I don't think extending the year would make the added time productive necessarily. I spent years working in a high school as a counselor. I always found the staff and students burnt out by the end of the school year. I think you need to work in a school to understand that.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

As a teacher, the school year is long enough thank you.

yukio ngaby said...

Oh come on, you guys! A longer school year/day would give more time for scholastic gems like Everyday Math and TERC, and more time to watch the "I Pledge" video in assemblies and to sing Obama's praises for Black History Month, etc.

I can't believe how selfish you teachers are! Not wanting to watch over children for twelve-hours-a-day, 11-months-a-year so that parents with careers can get on with their jobs and earn money for their kids' iPods and cell-phone contracts and food!

Sniff... Puh..please... Do it for the children...