Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Shorter Summer for School Kids? Bring it on!

Even when I was in middle (called jr. high then) school and high school, I thought the summers were toooooo long. I was always one of those dorks who looked forward to the beginning of school and, normally, didn't start praying for it to be over until after Christmas. I know, FREAK, but I truly loved school.

Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't want to go to school for MORE days a year, I just wanted the vacations spaced differently. I didn't know why we couldn't have an entire week off for Thanksgiving, it would have made travel easier. I didn't know why we couldn't have an extra week for Christmas and maybe 2 for Spring Break. I didn't want more than 6 weeks off in the summer. My mom worked, I was BORED!


Arne Duncan, the Cabinet secretary charged with overhauling America's educational system, is studying programs that keep kids in school longer to boost their academic achievements.

Since I have been out of the public school system for quite some time, and I don't even have a child attending public school (he's in community college) maybe this isn't an issue I should tackle.
But I will anyway.

Our education system is failing our children. Our teachers are overworked and underpaid. Our classrooms are overcrowded. And these hard economic times are making it worse with many teachers losing their jobs and many schools closing (several in Bay County alone). The model we use to run our schools is antiquated and out of date. Most children attending school now do not have to be on the farms in the summer to help out, so the long summers off are just allowing their brains to atrophy without good reason.

What is the answer? Maybe longer days. Other countries certainly have them. And it would help out those who can not afford to stay home with their children, by cutting day care costs. Maybe longer school years. This would, again, help those with younger children paying day care costs and it would give the teachers more time to ensure that our children are fully educated and not just taught to pass one certain test a year. (Full disclosure: I hate the FCAT and feel there has been too much focus on it since its inception.)

Another bonus to a longer school year would be to get rid of those who go into the profession just for summers off. We've all had wonderful teachers who were great at their jobs and obviously loved teaching the next generation. We've all had teachers who were just putting in their time until summer or retirement also.

The downfall? It would cost money, of course, and where will the states, counties and cities get it? More government funding? Higher taxes? I can hear the screaming about that already. But what choice do we have? Our children are getting more stupid by the year and just propping up the current system will not help at all!


Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

Your post caused me to wonder what I would think would ease the woes of the education system, and I soon realized that I couldn't be very helpful. This is because, when I was a child, and later, when I had a child in the public schools, two factors seemed to me to be uppermost in importance, and those were the quality of the teachers and the quality of the parents who supplied the classmates. I don't recall things like the time spent in class, the class sizes, the buildings, the subjects taught, or anything else meaning nearly as much, and I don't know what can be done to improve either factor, especially the parents.

LeftLeaningLady said...

There isn't much that can be done about the quality of the parents, but making a longer school day and a longer school year may help those who are in dire economic circumstances right now. It may also help the children absorb more with just proximity to the material. Maybe I should also mention that I am 100% anti-homework except in rare cases of big papers or studying for tests.