Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Longer school year, days? Bah humbug!

Talk about heresy! President Obama made a pitch for something many N.C. parents may not be too keen on - a longer school day or longer school year.

Those are fighting words to North Carolinians who think summer time is sacrosanct. Some parents and lobbyists for tourism successfully got N.C. lawmakers to pass a law mandating that public schools start no sooner than August 25. The parents and other supporters have a continuing organization called Save Our Summer, which is dedicated to keeping that they call a "traditional" school calendar.

But Obama said today in a speech before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that:
"We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home plowing the land at the end of each day. That calendar may have once made sense, but today, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage. Our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea. That is no way to prepare them for a 21st century economy." Research does should that students in countries where students attend school in the summer, and where the school day is longer, are the top performers on international academic tests.

What do you think? Should the school year be longer? Should the school day be longer?

15 comments:

Dr. Phil said...

No. The reason has nothing to do with the QUANTITY of education but with the QUALITY of education. The misconception is if you keep hammering kids with more, they'll "learn more". The real problem our kids are falling behind are multifactorial. In my opinion the idiocy of government regulated "no child left behind" regulations is the real culprit. Kids are being taught to perform on multiple choice tests and not to truly think. We unfortunately are also dealing with a generation of pretty lazy kids (the fault is really ours, since we adults indulged their every desire beyond all normal reason). Instead of regulating how many hours kids need to spend in school we need to improve the quality of the time they are there!

Anonymous said...

Since I live in the US, I cannot attest to the quality of education received in other countries. But kids in other countries tend take education more seriously than American kids in general. More parents need to instill the importance of education in their children. I don't see how going to school longer could hurt the kids. If you did have longer school years and days, Arts and Physical Ed. could be expanded.

JED said...

For President Obama to stand in front of anyone and talk about the quality of education in this country, is complete hypocrisy.

While his children go to a private school, he refuses to support any programs to help others to send thier children to anything but public schools.

And yet, even with the billions of dollars in the stimulus bill, the public schools don't have the money just for the basics.
How in the world does he think they can pay for the increased cost of longer days or even more days per year?

Anonymous said...

I think that summer vacation should be 6 weeks long - plenty of time for a long vacation and even for boredom to set in. Kids forget quickly what they have learned, this can only benefit them. How about a week of fall break as well. When my kids were younger it was a big problem figuring out what to do with them in the summer without spending a fortune on camps. Even for older children, those days are over when one could play with the neighborhood kids since daytimes, our neighborhoods have become childless.

mikeandjen said...

I really like the idea of year-round school with more breaks throughout instead of lumped in the summer. I am not a fan of extending hours in the day - kids do need to be kids and are already at school for 6 1/2 hours in the day. Going to year round may aid in this issue without creating more budget concerns.

Honestly, I feel that the more our government gets involved the less effective the school systems will be. Admittedly, some overall regulation is necessary but the more power that is given to the local community and parents, the better the schools will be run - at least IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely - the Europeans are worried about a 6 week summer vacation with studies showing how kids lose skills over the summer - I'm all for it. Instead of endless money consuming "camps" how about school with a real vacation where everyone can be off and enjoy it as a family with longer breaks during the year. Yeahhh Obama - why do folks get so angry when someone as smart as he is challenges the "always been that way.... mentality"

Anonymous said...

Its plain stupid not to have done this 20 years ago. When I was going to school and my parents were in the Military, German kids went to school on Saturdays and more than we did. LOOK what it has done for them. We need year round school. YOU can not get quality until you have quantity...Increase the time in school.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother who has experienced both CMS and Union county schools. I feel that the school year is too long. The initial 3 weeks of school are useless at all grade levels. The final weeks of school are equally without merit. Once the EOG"S are administered the school year is over. I do not see that my children are better educated or better prepared than I was and my school year was shorter. The length of the school year means nothing, it is the quality of the instruction as well as the love of learning being imparted to students. Neither is happening here. We need to show kids it is good to think and we need to pay teachers like they are valuable. We also need to change the focus of education back to a more socratic method. Multiple choice and fill ins do not teach they promote memorization not understanding. We can get our kids well educated and competative if we start making them think.

Molly Bloom said...

If the days were any longer my middle-school-age son wouldn't get any sleep for all the homework he has to do. I oppose making school days longer.

That said, I agree with making school years longer. As anon 3:55 pointed out, boredom sets in quickly, and many friends and neighborhood children are either on vacation or in camp.

But if the school systems can't pay for 180 days, where are they going to come up with the money for the rest?

Anonymous said...

Back when I was teaching, I remember how much time in the fall we had to spend 'reviewing' material from the previous year that the students had forgotten over the long summer break.

Pres. Obama is correct; the long summer break made sense when we were an agricultural country and the children were needed to work on the farms, but less than 1% of the population are farming any more, and farms today are so automated and mechanized that there is less need for child labor.

As for the longer school day, I would say OK as long as it wasn't used to pile on more classes. Spend more time on the classes we have, and add study/enrichment periods. I'd also like to see the school day begin and end later; again, ending in mid-afternoon was to give farm children time to do their chores before sunset. Now, the fact that school is out long before the parents' workday ends means that kids have several hours of unsupervised time between school and parents' coming home. This may have made sense in the 50s when most families had a stay-at-home parent, but today with single-parent families and dual-career couples, that no longer makes sense.

This is the beginning of the 21st C., and we are still running a 19th C. school system.

Anonymous said...

I think one of our problems is we need to have 1 curriculmn for the whole country and not 50. I also agree there are countries that are poorer than the US, but there kids are required to speak and write min of 3 languages. Our kids are lazy and we need to go back to the old school. If kids are not able to learn send them to a STATE SPONSOR Military school. I can guarantee you they will learn. If there parents are inadequate send them back to school as well

Anonymous said...

no i don't think obama should add more school days because kids would start to drop out because they want be able to handle it and in summer they need to spend time with there family!

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading several of the responses! I totally agree with kids getting out of school several hours before the parents even get off work. My kids get out of school at 2:30pm! I think that's way too early. I'm also on board with not "adding" classes, but spending more time in the ones we have. When I get home I have to teach my son what he wasn't able to get in the classroom. The added school time may be able to help with this. I have no problem with extending the school year either. It is ultimately a bigger burden on the parents having to pay $700 a month (minimum) on camps!

Tony said...

I am totally for lengthening the school year. I work with my child over the summer on rising grade skills and he still forgets a lot of the information he "learned" in the previous grade. The first few weeks of school are spent on review. I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about my regard for No Child Left Behind and what I feel are the true problems plaguing our schools and teachers.

All that being said, I would like to see year round school with short breaks throughout.

Lindasy Rosenwald said...

Nice blogging, My review is very good example.
Lindsay Rosenwald http://www.lindsayrosenwald.info/ Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald is one of the re-known venture capitalists and the hedge fund managers in the world.