For the past five years I've been telling my sons that if I had my way, there would be no such thing as summer vacation for kids, and their reactions have been, shall we say, not extremely positive. Sure, most kids love their summer vacations, but all good things must come to an end.
If President Obama follows through with his proposal to significantly shorten summer breaks and possibly even lengthen school days, that alone garners my vote for him in 2012. Why? Because as most working parents here know, it's not good to have a teenager home by him- or herself while both parents are out trying to make money to pay the rent (for we all know the old saw about idle hands), and if the child is too young to be alone, then the parents wind up forking over a lot more C-notes to pay for day care. Most importantly, lengthened school days and shortened summer breaks will mean our kids will be more competitive in the modern world — for it's no secret that America's turning out substandard graduates even compared to many Third World countries.
Now, the increased school hours in and of themselves do not solve the problem; after all, there are countries in Asia where kids spend fewer hours in school than we already do. But I think most of us can agree this is a big step in the right direction, if we take this step.
There's one more consideration: politics. Since it's a Democrat (and especially one who's a liberal black president who many claim is Muslim, isn't native-born American, and pals around with terrorists), the conservatives are sure to cry out against this new assault on a sacred agrarian tradition kept since the founding fathers worked the fields as kids. Not only that, but lengthened school hours will cost more money, more taxpayer money more taxes – Horrors! It's another step towards socialism! Be afraid! Praise the Limbaugh and pass the ammunition; there be a census taker a-comin' down the road.
Silliness aside, of course the BC conservatives are generally intelligent, sensible, and certainly aren't part of the far-right militaristic-birther lunatic fringe. I suspect that a few BC conservatives will in their hearts agree with President Obama's proposal, even if they don't publicly do so. Perhaps some conservative politicians will see this as a possible wedge issue, a way to weaken President Obama's (and the Democrats') standing among America's youth, but I don't think so, because youth under the age of 18 don't vote. Grownups do.
And President Obama's proposal is a wonderful example of what happens when the grownups are in charge. As they have been since January 20th, 2009.