A Longer School Day, A Longer School Year – What a Timely Idea

August 2, 2011

Just read an article claiming that the King School in Portland now has 183 school days, the most school days in an Oregon school, thanks to a federal grant. Parents of students attending KNOVA Learning in the Reynolds School District claim both longer school days (7:30-4:30) and an even longer school year of 200 days.

This isn’t news to the private school world. The LA Times reported that this fall most elementary schools in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will go to 200 days by adding up to 20 days to their schedules.

Oregon’s King School schedule of 183 days might shock some who think that is near the norm. The article says that “in Oregon this year, the typical school ended after just 170 days of class — a result of the state’s already low standards for what constitutes a full year, compounded by budget difficulties that prompted many districts to cut theirs even shorter.” Some schools in Oregon have 162 to 164 days of class per year!

Longer school years are often discussed for a variety of reasons. Some claim that students forget too much over the summer and in the fall they have to go back and start over, rather than pick up where they left off. Others argue that our silly agrarian-based school calendar no longer makes sense, as rarely are children needed on the farm over the summer and they should stay in school.

Other points in opposition of extended school years include interfering with traditional family vacations and activities; institutions and enrichment activities that have grown up around summer vacation; and the fact that schools aren’t the only place students should live their lives – that there is a world to experience that opens up during the summer.  I hear parents say that their kids don’t need a whole summer off and that a month is plenty.  They say that the new American family where both parents work is far different than that when the current school year was put into place when most households had only one wage earner.  Where schools aren’t fun, more school days is more days of no fun.  And no one could disagree that teachers need vacation time as well as time to prepare for a new school year.

A new issue on the table is that there is so much more to learn to stay competitive and be well-educated than there was even 50 years ago. More time is needed to teach all of this new “stuff”. New subjects have emerged and been added to curricula, and other countries have longer school days.  It is often argued that extended learning time is necessary to improve student achievement, especially in a global economy.

More than 40 national organizations support the federal proposal, which would provide federal funds to states to add at least 300 hours of study time by extending the school day and/​​or school year .

Extended calendars in poorly-run “no fun” schools makes no sense. Schools where students are having fun learning and where learning is an adventure should be open longer.  But no students should be in school earning seat time – that’s more than old school!  Students should only be in school as long as needed to become proficient in the subjects they are studying and meet graduation requirements.  If they need more time – great!  If they get done sooner and can get on with their lives – that’s  even better!

Time’s up!  I’m out of here……(smile)…

Posted by marks on Tuesday August 2, 2011 at 03:38PM

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