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School’s IN Forever

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Jay Matthews in WaPo: Let’s Have a 9 Hour School Day

Let’s not.

Why? Why tack three more hours onto a school day when a portion of the six hours kids already attend is filled with fluff and filler? What could possibly be accomplished in three more hours besides making kids tired, bored and more anti-school then they already are?

Three extra hours of study every day added up fast. It produced hundreds of confident young scholars in an inner city school where such people are not often found. (Schools in affluent neighborhoods do not face the same pressure to extend the school day because their students often have parents who insist they do their homework, no matter how long it takes.)

Oh, I see. It’s another one of these “social good” programs. Our kids will have to spend three more hours a day stuffed in a classroom, cutting into family and physical activity time, because people in certain neighborhoods don’t have control over their children, or don’t care.

Sorry, I’m not buying it. This amounts to three more hours of babysitting per day for people who don’t want to take the time to make sure their kids are learning the skills they need to get by in life.

I barely have enough quality time with my children during the school year as it is. Between homework and projects, baseball and clubs (and my kids are only allowed to do one sport/club at a time), I think there’s an hour free on weeknights for us to do anything together that’s not school related.

In my eyes, that time together is far more important than anything they will teach my children in added school hours. Look at this:

They were doing a terrible job as Houston elementary school teachers but discovered that if they extended their teaching time, and mixed in some after-school motivators such as visits to the local Boys’ and Girls’ Club, student achievement improved dramatically. That inspired the KIPP school day, which starts at 7:30 or 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m., plus some Saturday morning sessions and required summer school.

What happened to letting kids be kids? There will be enough time after high school and/or college is over for these children to have a nine hour, year round workday. Saturday mornings? Sorry. That’s OUR time. That’s baseball time. That’s sitting around in our pajamas, watching cartoons and enjoying each other’s company time. That’s getting in the car and driving to the beach or a museum time.

And I don’t think it is the school district’s responsibility to take your kids on “motivational” field trips. What happened to letting parents do the parenting? I know, there are some parents who are just not capable, or do not care enough, to provide quality parenting, but don’t make my family suffer the consequences of their failings.

This has nothing to do with giving kids a better education. This about using school resources, not to mention school district dollars (paid for with YOUR taxes) to make up for lazy or non existent parenting.

It’s not that I don’t care about these kids, but there has to be a better way to help them out then to drag everyone else into it. I make sure my kids do their homework and project. I make sure they study. I’m sorry if there are people who are incapable of doing the same, but it’s not my responsibility to give up my time, my tax dollars and quality time with my kids to rectify that. I am NOT a big a believer in the “it takes a village” theory of raising children. It’s hard enough raising your own to be good, educated people with bright futures. I don’t want or need the added burden of taking on someone else’s kid.

My objection to a nine hour school day is not just about money, resources or raising teacher’s salaries so they can provide babysitting for three hours a day; it’s about what we are doing to our children. We are forcing them to grow out of childhood too fast. It’s all about work, work, work and how much learning and regiment you can squeeze into one child’s brain in the course of a few hours a day. Kids need some freedom. They need to gather in front of their houses and play kickball with their friends. They need to ride their bikes and play hopscotch or just sit around with a few buddies playing video games or watching movies. Why force the rituals and time constraints of the adult world onto a ten year old? Do you think this will prepare them for “real” life or toughen them up? No, it will only make them weary and humorless. Nine hour school days, plus time to do homework, projects and study leaves them no time to be children. They’ll just be mini-adults. That’s not fair.

Just as it’s not fair to expect anyone give up three more hours a day to number crunching, spelling, history and a myriad of feel-good, wishy washy programs that chew into a portion of the school day. There are some schools that have done away with recess. Recess! It’s just not natural to cram children into a building for six hours a day and not let them run loose at some point. No wonder these kids can’t concentrate or get distracted. There’s no time for rejuvenation. Even adults get lunch and short breaks during their workday. And most of us work a five day a week, eight hour a day job with weekends off. Yet we’re now going to expect children to more than that? Does anyone else see the problem here?

I know I’m going to get attacked for being selfish and for not understanding the plight of children who don’t have parents who care. But I am not your village. I am not responsible for your child. It’s hard enough raising my own and doing it right. Don’t expect me to make sacrifices because other people have failed. There are other ways for the city or state to help these children out without dragging every other kid into it.

And really, that’s not it. That’s not the whole issue. I am just so tired of bureaucrats and educators and education administrators wanting to suck the fun out of childhood.

WaPo link via Chris O’Donnell

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About Michele Catalano

  • Dave

    People should never be attacked for something they really do not have an understanding of. But I understand your view and can appreciate your points. For one, I can see why inner city districts might look toward extending the school day favorably. When kids have less and less to look forward to after school its stands to reason many would benefit from having more time to be engaged in school activities, socializing with others, etc.

    I also agree as an educator that anti-school sentiment will always be there to some degree even if school were limited to three hours per day. It is simply something that is part of the pedigree of youths early on. A teacher’s job would not be so rewarding or so hard if this did not exist.