Earlier this year we reported that President Obama proposed longer school days, and recent buzz indicates he’s still at it. The President wants American children to be better prepared to compete with children worldwide who spend on average 30 percent more time in school than American kids. Along with his Education Secretary Arne Duncan, President Obama believes that the current American academic calendar year is antiquated and was created when the country was primarily an agrarian culture; but since very few families toil in the fields all day, the Obama Administration is on a quest to develop the minds of American children by extending their time in school in order to keep them on par with the minds of millions of children around the globe.
Currently, most American schools hold class for 180 days a year and the average American student clocks about 1,145 hours of class-time instruction each year. But in countries that consistently out-smart Americans on test scores, like Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, kids are in school for less hours (about 1,050 hours) but have longer school years – 190 to 200 days.
The President is hoping to balance out this discrepancy by proposing that all schools hold classes longer, three hours to be exact, offer weekend classes particularly for kids who live in economically-disadvantaged and crime-ridden communities, and reduce the length of time for summer vacation.
While eliminating summer vacation is not popular among kids (and some parents), schools that have extended class time have yielded positive results. Charter schools who hold longer school days fare better on test scores in comparison to schools in the same districts that adhere to the traditional school day schedule. In addition, schools that simply add a few minutes to class times also see marked improvement in test scores.
But the extended school year will cost extra money. The funds to put such a plan into action would come from federal and state dollars and would be used to pay for the extended salaries, utilities and basic school operational costs.
Whether all parts of his plan or just a few components will be passed still remains to be seen. EduInReview.com will continue to keep you informed of the developments of this controversial but important issue.