I remember watching the clock tick ever so slowly as the school day came to an end. I, like my fellow classmates, couldn’t wait until 3 p.m. But now, some students will have to watch the clock tick all the way to 5 p.m.
President Obama, along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, have been pushing for a lengthier school day. Duncan wants American children to keep up with other schools around the world.
“Young people in other countries are going to school 25 to 30 percent longer than our students here,” Duncan told the Associated Press. “I want to just level the playing field.”
But some critics wonder if keeping children in school from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. is the best way to exhaust the school’s budget.
“We risk producing something that’s very expensive, time-consuming, [and] distracting, and frankly [it] will make the lives of educators even more harried,” said Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
Hess believes that having longer school days could cost $50 billion a year.
“Before we borrow that much more money against our kids’ futures, I’d much rather see if we can figure out how to wring 50 percent more instructional time out of the [current] school day,” he says.
On the other hand, schools that already have the longer school day program believe that it is the best way to narrow the achievement gap. Twenty-two schools in Massachusetts have adopted the Expanded Learning Time Initiative, or ELT. The program, which is paid for with state resources, roughly adds 300 hours to the school year, mostly by making the school day longer.
Though the cost is hefty, an additional $1,300 per child, Jennifer Davis, of the National Center on Time & Learning in Boston, believes that more school hours means better test scores.
“If you want to look at schools where [the achievement gap is narrowing], they’re saying they couldn’t do it without the added time,” Davis said. “Even when you get good teachers into schools, you need added time.”
While skeptics are sure that more school days and hours will do little to improve an already failing school, Edwards Middle School, located in Boston, has already proved them wrong. At one time, Edwards was on the brink of closing due to under performance. Now, after using ELT funds for longer school days, the middle school is outperforming the state average in math and has narrowed the achievement gap by 80 percent in language-arts.
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Via The Christian Science Monitor