For the last several years there has been talk about expanding the school day or converting to year-round school. Several schools in different parts of the country have experimented with these ideas in different ways. In fact some schools have even tried 4 day weeks instead of the typical 5 day. And the results? They are mixed.
This article shares some positive results including a school in Minneapolis that benefited from longer school days. However, a recent experiment in Miami showed no change in student performance. But our new Education Secretary, Arne Duncan thinks that longer school day/year is the way for us to stay competitive in the world. But if you read the reaction of the parents who have read the article, you may find they do not agree. “While the NEA has no official stance on this issue, they would likely support it.”
From what I have read, most people can’t spend more than 45 minutes focusing on any one thing without a break. I have also read some studies that were conducted in lecture halls on college campuses that found this number can be as short at 15 minutes. And we want to lengthen the school day for younger students with even shorter attention spans than adults?
So often we hear the old cliche phrase that Quality is more important than Quantity. I wonder when someone will apply that to our educational system? Now they want longer school days which will give them extra time in the classroom with the kids. Do you think a longer school day will really afford these opportunities for our kids? I don’t. I want to know where is the Quality in our education system? Where are the needed paras to support the students who have learning differences? Where are the one-on-one and small group opportunities to help kids who are struggling in reading, writing or math? I not only think longer school days won’t help the majority of our students, I think it could do more harm for some students who are already struggling in the public school system.