Monday, September 28, 2009

American Students Do Not Need Longer School Days

I'm going to put this out here right now, just to get it out of the way: I am not a parent. I'm just a tax payer that remembers what it was like to be a student.

"Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way. Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe." I think that no matter what American students do, we are always going to hear how we are at a disadvantage, compared to other countries. This is starting to sound old...okay, so we suck at something. How about we talk about we're good at?

"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."

Seriously? Have the schools open on weekends? Who is going to watch those kids, if they even show up? Do you want teachers to work an extra two days a week, as babysitters, for the pay they are already getting? If you give them a raise, who will pay for it? And how many kids would actually head over to the schools on a weekend? As a kid, I lived for the weekends...hell, as an adult, I still do!

"'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."

I think we all understand that, but can we really expect these children to put in longer days at school than what some of us work? I work a 37.5 hour work week. I am at work M-F, 8 AM-4:30 PM. Imagine being a student and having to keep an even longer schedule, if President Obama gets his way. It's too much. These kids need their weekends and their summers, to decompress and relax, even to just veg out a little bit.

Or if you really insist on the students getting more out of their education, then school boards should consider making it mandatory for certain grades to have at least one extracurricular activity per semester. That would keep the kids busier during the day and make for longer days.

"Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here," Duncan told the AP. "I want to just level the playing field."

While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it's not true they all spend more time in school.

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).

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