Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This is scary...

Obama and Newt agree on something?

A growing number of politicians from both sides of the aisle are waking up to the problem. Barack Obama has urged school administrators to “rethink the school day”, arguing that “we can no longer afford an academic calendar designed for when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home ploughing the land at the end of each day.” Newt Gingrich has trumpeted a documentary arguing that Chinese and Indian children are much more academic than American ones.
These politicians have no shortage of evidence that America’s poor educational performance is weakening its economy. A recent report from McKinsey, a management consultancy, argues that the lagging performance of the country’s school pupils, particularly its poor and minority children, has wreaked more devastation on the economy than the current recession. [More]

About now many households are considering longer school days and calendars much more favorably.  It was interesting to note how our current schedule - with a long summer vacation - essentially arose from the need for labor in the summer on farms.

Jan and I have harrumphed about the amount of time actually spent in class for our children and now grandchildren. But more appalling to me is how little time college students spend actually, you know, going to college.


Brian in Central IL said...


Interesting post and one that gets the ol brain a churnin'. I have some indirect knowledge of year round schools locally and from my view it appears the academic schedule does not change at all, rather tha only change comes with a shift in when the breaks occur- rather than one long summer break it is two or three shorter ones. I wonder what a longer school year/day would mean on performance. At first glance I wonder if burn out becomes an issue with students leading to poor performance, then again if you have a child you grows up in that system then they are used to it and likewise adapted. It certainly could help with childcare issues parents experience for those summer breaks.

I think the college issue is more complicated. I for one would have been more than happy, at least looking back, to have attended class during the summer as well but the issue for me came as funding. Currently when a student receives financial aid (grants or loans) they receive the monies at the beginning of the fall semester and then at the beginning of the spring semester, and it is up to the student to then hold back funds for the summer if they so choose. To solve that issue it would be prudent to change the dispersal process to then make money available at the summer term as well. It is not a matter of more funding, just timing. I qualified for some grants that paid for my credit hours for fall and spring, but they said nothing was left for summer. I never understood why that made a difference- I could have easily taken the summer course to free up space in the fall and thereby releasing the presure on some classrooms that are busting at the seams with students already.

Ol James said...

Teacher Unions. I guarantee down here they will raise a ruckus like yall haven't seen. There is a school near me that runs year round. They plan their calendar around the major holidays. Something like 6-8 weeks on and 1-2 off. They WERE one of the lowest testing schools in the state. Now they are near the top!!