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More School?

by Ronald A. Rowe | September 29th, 2009 | Elementary

Obama“President Obama” and “school” have been coupled together in a number of news headlines this month.  First, he gave a perfectly harmless, but peculiarly ill-timed, speech to school children about non-controversial topics, such as “staying in school”.  Then, some knucklehead teacher in New Jersey decided to have her class sing creepy praise songs to the president, substituting “Barrack Hussein Obama” for “Jesus” in some instances.

Now, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is proposing longer school days and a longer school year for American kids, an idea that the president had put forth months ago.  There are two distinct parts to this proposal, and I think each should stand on its own merits.

Lengthening the school day would be a tough sell.  A child’s brain can take in only so much information in a day.  If we added a couple of hours to the school day, would it do any good?  Would kids learn anything taught in the extra time?  Would the schools use the time wisely, or just fill it with busy work and games?  Teachers love to tell everyone they meet that they are overworked and underpaid now.  What would they say if they were asked to work the same number of hours as everyone else?

Lengthening the school year seems like a more promising idea to me. The reason that kids are off all summer is so that they can go help with the harvest on the family farm.  Since about one gazillionth of one percent of school kids in the U.S. actually work on a farm (true statistical fact, look it up), summer break may not be such a necessity as it once was. Surely, the little ones could make do with just one month off, instead of three.  Wouldn’t they be more prepared to compete in the global marketplace if they spent a little more time in school?  It seems like a valid concept to me.

What do you think?  Do students need the long break, or would they be better off spending more time in school?  Have any YPI readers had experience with year round schools?  Let us know if and how it worked.

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