I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We DON"T Need a Longer School Day

It seems as if the past few days were "National Longer School Day Week." The NY Times had a big conversation on the issue; Slate responded. Of course, the corporate "reformers" have been weighing in for some time:

You know what? We don't need a longer school day:

I teach in the 'burbs, and for my students, school is just the first part of the day. At relatively affluent high schools, well over half of the kids participate in some sort of after-school sports. Many more are in the marching band or cheerleading or student government or the glee club or the school plays...

These are all huge time commitments but legitimate learning experiences. Add to that the value of working a part-time job, AND the enormous amount of homework many of these kids have... really, the last thing they need is another 90 minutes in class every day.

As you drop down to the younger ones, you find the same pattern, only with private providers: music lessons, travel sports (Bob Bigelow has been all over this for a long time), dance, martial arts, foreign language, all kinds of camps, Kumon, tutoring...

Now, there is a legitimate point to be made here: the kids in the 'burbs are getting all of this stuff while poor kids go lacking. I don't think we need to emulate the 'burbs everywhere - the 'burbs actually need to pull back - but I do absolutely agree that we need more high-quality after-school programs in needy areas.

If the corporate reformers are all for that, they should get behind organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, which can provide all kinds of healthy social, athletic, artistic, and academic experiences. This is a "longer day" we can all support, as it will help mold brighter, happier, well-rounded citizens.

But more time preparing for bubble tests? No way.

No comments: