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Black Mamba
09-27-2009, 07:39 PM
WASHINGTON 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.

"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," the president said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."

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.

Fifth-grader Nakany Camara is of two minds. She likes the four-week summer program at her school, Brookhaven Elementary School in Rockville, Md. Nakany enjoys seeing her friends there and thinks summer school helped boost her grades from two Cs to the honor roll.

But she doesn't want a longer school day. "I would walk straight out the door," she said.

Domonique Toombs felt the same way when she learned she would stay for an extra three hours each day in sixth grade at Boston's Clarence R. Edwards Middle School.

"I was like, `Wow, are you serious?'" she said. "That's three more hours I won't be able to chill with my friends after school."

Her school is part of a 3-year-old state initiative to add 300 hours of school time in nearly two dozen schools. Early results are positive. Even reluctant Domonique, who just started ninth grade, feels differently now. "I've learned a lot," she said.

Does Obama want every kid to do these things? School until dinnertime? Summer school? And what about the idea that kids today are overscheduled and need more time to play?

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Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school.

"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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Regardless, there is a strong case for adding time to the school day.

Researcher Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution looked at math scores in countries that added math instruction time. Scores rose significantly, especially in countries that added minutes to the day, rather than days to the year.

"Ten minutes sounds trivial to a school day, but don't forget, these math periods in the U.S. average 45 minutes," Loveless said. "Percentage-wise, that's a pretty healthy increase."

In the U.S., there are many examples of gains when time is added to the school day.

Charter schools are known for having longer school days or weeks or years. For example, kids in the KIPP network of 82 charter schools across the country go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than three hours longer than the typical day. They go to school every other Saturday and for three weeks in the summer. KIPP eighth-grade classes exceed their school district averages on state tests.

In Massachusetts' expanded learning time initiative, early results indicate that kids in some schools do better on state tests than do kids at regular public schools. The extra time, which schools can add as hours or days, is for three things: core academics kids struggling in English, for example, get an extra English class; more time for teachers; and enrichment time for kids.

Regular public schools are adding time, too, though it is optional and not usually part of the regular school day. Their calendar is pretty much set in stone. Most states set the minimum number of school days at 180 days, though a few require 175 to 179 days.

Several schools are going year-round by shortening summer vacation and lengthening other breaks.

Many schools are going beyond the traditional summer school model, in which schools give remedial help to kids who flunked or fell behind.

Summer is a crucial time for kids, especially poorer kids, because poverty is linked to problems that interfere with learning, such as hunger and less involvement by their parents.

That makes poor children almost totally dependent on their learning experience at school, said Karl Alexander, a sociology professor at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, home of the National Center for Summer Learning.

Disadvantaged kids, on the whole, make no progress in the summer, 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.

"If your parents are high school dropouts with low literacy levels and reading for pleasure is not hard-wired, it's hard to be a good role model for your children, even if you really want to be," Alexander said.

Extra time is not cheap. The Massachusetts program costs an extra $1,300 per student, or 12 percent to 15 percent more than regular per-student spending, said Jennifer Davis, a founder of the program. It received more than $17.5 million from the state Legislature last year.

The Montgomery County, Md., summer program, which includes Brookhaven, received $1.6 million in federal stimulus dollars to operate this year and next, but it runs for only 20 days.

Aside from improving academic performance, Education Secretary Duncan has a vision of schools as the heart of the community. Duncan, who was Chicago's schools chief, grew up studying alongside poor kids on the city's South Side as part of the tutoring program his mother still runs.

"Those hours from 3 o'clock to 7 o'clock are times of high anxiety for parents," Duncan said. "They want their children safe. Families are working one and two and three jobs now to make ends meet and to keep food on the table."

Black Mamba
09-27-2009, 07:44 PM
My first thoughts: I am glad that I'm not a grasshopper no more. In high school I went 7:15 to 3:15 (pulled 7 classes, not because I wanted to, but I had to). Now, 2 years later, my high school has implemented a 0 period (starts at 6:15) and a 8th period (ends at either 3:15 or 4:15). I know the pros outwiegh the cons but still, that sucks.

logrus
09-27-2009, 07:54 PM
My first thoughts: I am glad that I'm not a grasshopper no more. In high school I went 7:15 to 3:15 (pulled 7 classes, not because I wanted to, but I had to). Now, 2 years later, my high school has implemented a 0 period (starts at 6:15) and a 8th period (ends at either 3:15 or 4:15). I know the pros outwiegh the cons but still, that sucks.

Not sure what is going on in other areas but out by me the kids got it made. They start school late and get out early. I think if I remember correctly they start at 9 and go to 12. My sisters school did 11 to 3.

When I went to school 3rd and 4th year I was going from 6:15 to 3:15 and then it was sports from 3:30 til 6 and thats not even counting game days or meets.

Vizion
09-27-2009, 08:17 PM
That's not a surprise.

More school = more time to indoctrinate children with his socialist propaganda.

KENTUCKYREDBONE
09-27-2009, 09:24 PM
That's not a surprise.

More school = more time to indoctrinate children with his socialist propaganda.

Good point! On a side note that's one of them decisions that should be made at the State level!

logrus
09-27-2009, 10:00 PM
That's not a surprise.

More school = more time to indoctrinate children with his socialist propaganda.

I guess the schools getting to start late and leave early was Bush's idea to dumb the kids down below his C standards.

Vizion
09-27-2009, 10:12 PM
I guess the schools getting to start late and leave early was Bush's idea to dumb the kids down below his C standards. ok, bring Bush into it. That makes sense.

Vizion
09-27-2009, 10:15 PM
Good point! On a side note that's one of them decisions that should be made at the State level! Well Obama and his socialist cronies don't want the states to have control. They want federal control over states rights. This way they can firmly and consitently enact their socialistic agenda through their propaganda based indoctrination of the youth.

rockdawg21
09-27-2009, 10:19 PM
That would be even more f'ed up for the students and teachers in city schools. In many cities, students are already on the bus even 60 minutes before they get to school and takes an hour to get home. Is he really wanting kids to wake at 5am to be on the bus at 6:30am, then return home at 7PM? Seriously! How stupid is that?!

Black Mamba
09-27-2009, 11:13 PM
Not sure what is going on in other areas but out by me the kids got it made. They start school late and get out early. I think if I remember correctly they start at 9 and go to 12. My sisters school did 11 to 3.

When I went to school 3rd and 4th year I was going from 6:15 to 3:15 and then it was sports from 3:30 til 6 and thats not even counting game days or meets.

There's a few highschools in my area that have similar schedules like that. I was really envious.

I had similar schedule like that too with theatre. 3:30 to 6:30 and closer to performance days we went to 10 and sometimes even later. I remember our stage manager and few hard core stage techies staying until 2 to get everything done on time.

With competiton to get into colleges, adding more time to school is a serious double edge sword. Many colleges want that well rounded student (extra curricular activities and the grades). Back in 2007, I graduated with honors at 3.8, was involved in drama, stage technology, music engineer, NSBE (national society for black engineers),CSF (CA Scholastic Federation), and took HNs and AP classes. For some of the competitive colleges out here such as UC Berkely (sp?), that wasn't good enough.

NateR
09-27-2009, 11:32 PM
I remember the whole "year round school" thing that was a big deal back in the late 80s, this seems to just be a resurrection of that.

rearnakedchoke
09-28-2009, 01:20 AM
this would be a great idea ... give the kids a two weeks in the summer ... more time they are in school, the less they would lose on a two month break ...

NateR
09-28-2009, 03:07 AM
this would be a great idea ... give the kids a two weeks in the summer ... more time they are in school, the less they would lose on a two month break ...

Well, if our public schools were actually doing their jobs in the first place, then you might have a point; but our public schools are catastrophic failures, turning out mindless illiterates who don't understand the concepts of failure or competition and can't even locate the United States on a map of the United States.

que
09-28-2009, 03:54 AM
good. summer break is a pointless break anyways. children are only children for so long, every day needs to be a day of schooling.

jason2130
09-28-2009, 06:21 AM
does anyone remember awhile back when they made a big deal about shortening school days but going year around because studies showed that kids absorb less knowledge as the day goes on?

during the months when the time changes kids with early bus routes will be getting on the bus as the sun rises and getting home after dark :wacko:

rockdawg21
09-28-2009, 11:36 AM
I remember the whole "year round school" thing that was a big deal back in the late 80s, this seems to just be a resurrection of that.
There's still a lot of those even pre-Obama. In fact, there are even organizations dedicated to the pursuit of year round schools nationwide:

http://www.nayre.org/

County Mike
09-28-2009, 12:45 PM
My vote would be shorter summer vacation but keep the day-length as is. Extending the school day would cut into sports time, time to study and do homework, etc.

Summer vacation doesn't need to be so long but the kids need time for sports after school without being out until 9pm.

Neezar
09-28-2009, 02:33 PM
Less school! We need to get back to the basics. Kids are learning Algebra in grade school these days. These kids aren't getting out in the work world and doing any better than our (my) generation nor the one before us. I know kids graduating who can't add 2 + 2 without a calculator. They need to only worry about reading, writing, and arithmatic in grade school and let the kids be kids.

logrus
09-28-2009, 03:09 PM
I thought Chicago had a few schools who pretty much went year round.

County Mike
09-28-2009, 03:23 PM
I blame "no child left behind". It seems they want to slow down ALL the kids so the dumb ones aren't left behind. Screw that. When I was in school, they separated us into groups and the more advanced kids were pushed. The slower kids were helped along at a pace they could handle. What's wrong with that?

Spending more time in school doing work that is too easy for you doesn't help anyone. Just like in the real world... Sink or swim.

flo
09-28-2009, 07:57 PM
Well, if our public schools were actually doing their jobs in the first place, then you might have a point; but our public schools are catastrophic failures, turning out mindless illiterates who don't understand the concepts of failure or competition and can't even locate the United States on a map of the United States.

I think you hit the nail on the head.

NateR
09-28-2009, 09:26 PM
I blame "no child left behind". It seems they want to slow down ALL the kids so the dumb ones aren't left behind. Screw that. When I was in school, they separated us into groups and the more advanced kids were pushed. The slower kids were helped along at a pace they could handle. What's wrong with that?

Spending more time in school doing work that is too easy for you doesn't help anyone. Just like in the real world... Sink or swim.

That is a huuuuuge part of the problem, but the real issue is that the federal government should not be involved in our public schools AT ALL.

I started attending public school in 1980 (I was in 2nd grade, I spent Kindergarten and 1st grade in private schools), so I had no idea that the federal Department of Education was a recent development created under Jimmy Carter in 1979. It was considered such a great idea that it barely passed in Congress (by only 4 votes in the House) and Ronald Reagan immediately tried to dismantle it upon becoming President in 1981. Unfortunately politics got in the way and fixing other things (like Carter's near destruction of the economy and winning the Cold War), took priority.

It's interesting that the quality of our public schools has been on a downhill rocket-slide ever since the Federal Government took it over (it sure gives you a lot of confident over what they are going to do to healthcare).

So, we need to get rid of the Department of Education and put managing our public schools back in the hands of the State and local governments.

I think you hit the nail on the head.

Thanks, but I guess I should clarify that I don't think that all public school students are idiots. I think it depends on where you are and the population level. I've noticed that in many smaller communities, the school system works fairly well, like here in Hillsboro. However, I believe most of that is because of accountability of teachers to parents. In a small town, teachers aren't going to be able to hide from the parents of their students. They're going to run into them in the grocery store or at church. They might even have gone to school with them or, in some cases, the parents might have actually learned under the same teacher that their kids are learning from.

Also, the mentality of the parents plays a big role. I believe that parents and public schools should share the responsibility of education 50/50. If parents believe that public schools are responsible for 100% of the work in educating their kids, then of course they are going to end up with functionally retarded dimwits who probably aren't going to move out of the house until they are in their 40s.