So President Obama has laid out his idea for education reform in this country. Longer school days, shorter breaks. As an educator I felt the need to sound off about this one! Let's tackle the first thing...shorter breaks.
I agree that shorter breaks in this country would be an absolutely WONDERFUL idea! Do our kids really need to be off for 3 months in the summer? Probably not! They spend the majority of the summer rotting their brains in front of the TV, computer games, etc and little, if no, time doing anything educational. As a result, teachers spend the first month or so of school trying to beat into their brains again the stuff that they learned the year before that turned to mush over the summer! I am a big proponant of the 6 weeks on, 1 week off idea. 6 weeks in class, followed by a one week break. It allows for the kids to get time off so that they don't burn out completely. Other school systems that go year round do 12 weeks, with 2 weeks off. That works too, just as long as the kids do get some break, because they do need it! (And so do the teachers!!!!)
Now, about the longer school days! I think this is a HORRIBLE idea! I have my reasons and they are as follows:
1) Children right now (at least in our area) spend about 6 1/2 hours every day in school. Some of them will also spend 1 1/2 hours EACH way on the school bus going to and from school, adding another 3 hours to their day. So if we extend the school day from 7:30 am to 7 pm as I saw in one suggestion that would mean that our children would have to be up at 5 am, to be on the bus by 6 am, to be at school by 7:30 am. They would be in school for almost 12 hours, to then get back on the bus and be home by 8:30 pm. I'm hoping that homework would be outlawed, but let's say it's not and they still have homework to do before bed. Let's say 2 hours worth. That means they wouldn't be finished until 10:30, immediately to baths and bed. Here's my problem: WHERE DOES FAMILY TIME FIT INTO THIS EQUATION!?!??!?! Are you kidding me????Most of us don't even WORK that long in one day! Why would we ask our CHILDREN to!?!?!?!?!? We want stronger families in this country...so naturally here's the solution...not allow families to be together AT ALL!!!!! Yeah...that'll work!!!! It's absurd...not to mention kind of sounds like child labor to me!!!!!
2) Is congress going to pass some sort of resolution mandating that teacher's get paid more?!?!? Because we all know that teacher's get paid CRAP! And we will be expecting them to work more hours each day, and every other Saturday (as one article I read suggested), and take away the breaks that they also enjoy, but still pay them the same amount of money. Not going to happen! You'll have pissed off teachers, who are overworked, underpaid (oh, wait! They're already overworked and underpaid!!!!) So they'll be MORE overworked, and MORE underpaid and then what happens!??! They will HATE their jobs, their attitude will translate into substandard teaching and our kids will learn NOTHING!
3) It doesn't matter how long the school year, or the school day, is...if you have inadequate teachers, you are going to have substandard resullts. Period.
So here's the deal, Mr. President...you try to enforce this in our country, and see how many parents will pull their kids out of the school systems and homeschool them instead! Somewhere along the way we decided that childhood was defined by school. Where is the time for our children to just be children? To run, and play, and use their imaginations, and dream about the day that they will go grow up to the President, or an astronaut, or a doctor, or a teacher! We're so worried about competing with the rest of the world, that we are willing to SACRIFICE childhood in order to be the best! Well, guess what? I won't play the game! I will homeschool my children, and focus on the things that are really important, like family, and our beliefs, and not wether or not my kids would win a math contest against some kid from Korea! So thanks for playing the "Let's Reform Education in This Country" game, President Obama! Try again!