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D.J.

School Students beware...

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More school: Obama would curtail summer vacation

 

By LIBBY QUAID (AP) – 7 hours ago

 

WASHINGTON — Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.

 

Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.

 

"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," the president said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."

 

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

 

"Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

 

Fifth-grader Nakany Camara is of two minds. She likes the four-week summer program at her school, Brookhaven Elementary School in Rockville, Md. Nakany enjoys seeing her friends there and thinks summer school helped boost her grades from two Cs to the honor roll.

 

But she doesn't want a longer school day. "I would walk straight out the door," she said.

 

Domonique Toombs felt the same way when she learned she would stay for an extra three hours each day in sixth grade at Boston's Clarence R. Edwards Middle School.

 

"I was like, `Wow, are you serious?'" she said. "That's three more hours I won't be able to chill with my friends after school."

 

Her school is part of a 3-year-old state initiative to add 300 hours of school time in nearly two dozen schools. Early results are positive. Even reluctant Domonique, who just started ninth grade, feels differently now. "I've learned a lot," she said.

 

Does Obama want every kid to do these things? School until dinnertime? Summer school? And what about the idea that kids today are overscheduled and need more time to play?

 

___

 

Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school.

 

"Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here," Duncan told the AP. "I want to just level the playing field."

 

While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it's not true they all spend more time in school.

 

Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).

 

___

 

Regardless, there is a strong case for adding time to the school day.

 

Researcher Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution looked at math scores in countries that added math instruction time. Scores rose significantly, especially in countries that added minutes to the day, rather than days to the year.

 

"Ten minutes sounds trivial to a school day, but don't forget, these math periods in the U.S. average 45 minutes," Loveless said. "Percentage-wise, that's a pretty healthy increase."

 

In the U.S., there are many examples of gains when time is added to the school day.

 

Charter schools are known for having longer school days or weeks or years. For example, kids in the KIPP network of 82 charter schools across the country go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than three hours longer than the typical day. They go to school every other Saturday and for three weeks in the summer. KIPP eighth-grade classes exceed their school district averages on state tests.

 

In Massachusetts' expanded learning time initiative, early results indicate that kids in some schools do better on state tests than do kids at regular public schools. The extra time, which schools can add as hours or days, is for three things: core academics — kids struggling in English, for example, get an extra English class; more time for teachers; and enrichment time for kids.

 

Regular public schools are adding time, too, though it is optional and not usually part of the regular school day. Their calendar is pretty much set in stone. Most states set the minimum number of school days at 180 days, though a few require 175 to 179 days.

 

Several schools are going year-round by shortening summer vacation and lengthening other breaks.

 

Many schools are going beyond the traditional summer school model, in which schools give remedial help to kids who flunked or fell behind.

 

Summer is a crucial time for kids, especially poorer kids, because poverty is linked to problems that interfere with learning, such as hunger and less involvement by their parents.

 

That makes poor children almost totally dependent on their learning experience at school, said Karl Alexander, a sociology professor at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, home of the National Center for Summer Learning.

 

Disadvantaged kids, on the whole, make no progress in the summer, Alexander said. Some studies suggest they actually fall back. Wealthier kids have parents who read to them, have strong language skills and go to great lengths to give them learning opportunities such as computers, summer camp, vacations, music lessons, or playing on sports teams.

 

"If your parents are high school dropouts with low literacy levels and reading for pleasure is not hard-wired, it's hard to be a good role model for your children, even if you really want to be," Alexander said.

 

Extra time is not cheap. The Massachusetts program costs an extra $1,300 per student, or 12 percent to 15 percent more than regular per-student spending, said Jennifer Davis, a founder of the program. It received more than $17.5 million from the state Legislature last year.

 

The Montgomery County, Md., summer program, which includes Brookhaven, received $1.6 million in federal stimulus dollars to operate this year and next, but it runs for only 20 days.

 

Aside from improving academic performance, Education Secretary Duncan has a vision of schools as the heart of the community. Duncan, who was Chicago's schools chief, grew up studying alongside poor kids on the city's South Side as part of the tutoring program his mother still runs.

 

"Those hours from 3 o'clock to 7 o'clock are times of high anxiety for parents," Duncan said. "They want their children safe. Families are working one and two and three jobs now to make ends meet and to keep food on the table."

 

Associated Press writer Russell Contreras in Boston contributed to this report.

 

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iaZ6R77zq5_ZYc77h178ePWRNJwQD9AVLOCG0

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Beware of learning? We are trailing far, far behind. Maybe i kids want to keep their summer off, they will pay attention in school.

 

- A

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More school is not the answer. Better quality schooling and more relevant topics are much more important.

 

We get our asses kicked in the international job market because our kids are pussies with no common sense who cry "it's not fair" rather than admit "OK next time i'll do better"

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More school is not the answer. Better quality schooling and more relevant topics are much more important.

 

Part (Most) of the problem is overcrowded inner-city schools and insufficient materials for the amount of kids in a class. Plus teachers who are probably more motivated by the paycheck then anything else.

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Part (Most) of the problem is overcrowded inner-city schools and insufficient materials for the amount of kids in a class. Plus teachers who are probably more motivated by the paycheck then anything else.

 

A lot of it is that what is taught through the end of high school is not very practical. What are you going to do being good at composition, English, or history? The career options for those fields are very limited, and very competitive. Consequently people dont leave school with practical or life skills, or knowledge of areas that are growing fields. Thats why so many go towards business or law school b/c they have no idea what they want to do, even in college.

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I'm all for more school, even if I don't necessarily enjoy it. School until dinnertime is an exaggeration; there's three easy ways to add more school time for kids. Extend the school day from ~2:30 to ~3:30, or make all class periods 5 periods longer (for a 40-50 minute increase per day). The third way would be to cut summer vacations by 2 weeks and add in another 2 weeks (10 days) throughout the school calendar, shortening some vacations. Saturday and Sunday would still be no-school days.

 

I agree with SubwayGuy that many subjects taught in high school are not practical real-life skills, an issue that needs to be addressed.

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Not happening in NYC if the UFT has any say.

 

IAWTP. Heck, most schools have their own hours. I went to a charter high school and I was in class from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., except for wednesday, when we got out at 1.

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IAWTP. Heck, most schools have their own hours. I went to a charter high school and I was in class from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., except for wednesday, when we got out at 1.

Recently the UFT received a new contract and an extra day of vacation. That is why school started on September 9th instead of the original September 8th date.

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Recently the UFT received a new contract and an extra day of vacation. That is why school started on September 9th instead of the original September 8th date.

 

I was wondering the same thing. School usually starts on a Monday, but the holiday would have pushed it to Tuesday then. I really wonder how much vacation time do they need. Does a day really make a difference? They have 10 days for Christmas, a week in February, 4 days for Thanksgiving, and a week in April for Spring Break. Hmmm, guess they do need extra time; our Christmas vacations spanned for three weeks!

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Think about it from teh kid's perspective, would you want to spend your entire summer in school? Or would you rather have a break to relax and return to the next year fresh and ready to go. Kids need time to be kids, they arent miniature study robots.

 

Ive found the problems in the schools come from lack of discipline, the kids run wild and the teachers are too frightened to really discipline the kids anymore because the parents complain.

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Well here in my area(Stockton,CA), we have 178 days of school (from 7A-2:10P for HS, 8:30A-2:30P for Elem., and 9A-3:15P for MS(our district only)) With two weeks off for X-mas Break, 2 weeks for Spring break AND 2 weeks for Fall Break(which is in October). We also have mini days almost every 2 or 3rd Wed. of the month and holidays here and there. Little too less learning days to learn don't you think? but there is summer school and after school tutoring that can last up to 4P however..., but still...

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Think about it from teh kid's perspective, would you want to spend your entire summer in school? Or would you rather have a break to relax and return to the next year fresh and ready to go. Kids need time to be kids, they arent miniature study robots.

 

Great post. Kids DO need time to be kids. And that means (gasp)...NO ADULTS! Let them play by themselves and make up their own rules instead of adults making them "compete" against the other kids all the time...in school and in play.

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Okay, so children spend more time in school. But what will they learn? Children are barely learning as it is. Who's to say that spending the whole year in school will make the experience so much better?

 

And during the summer, many schools lack air conditioning, so it's safer for the kids to be home. If the federal government fixes this, then maybe I'll consider this plan...

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Great post. Kids DO need time to be kids. And that means (gasp)...NO ADULTS! Let them play by themselves and make up their own rules instead of adults making them "compete" against the other kids all the time...in school and in play.

 

That and I find schools are also lacking in teaching and nurturing kid's creative abilities, some kids struggle through school because their strengths are in more creative talents rather than hard facts and figures.

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I like the idea of more school and there has always been ways of extending the school periods. At the way that my school life is currently going, I'll be out of the house from 7:30 AM and won't get home until 8 PM. I don't see how extending it (the way Obama wants it) would do the schedules of people like me any justice.

 

I don't think that it's the fact that kids don't have enough time in school, its the fact that they don't want to put whatever time they get for something positive during the time. There's people who are the honor roll smart, regular passing smart, genuinely trying but failing, and the plain IDC folks. Extending the day just gives the last set of people more time to fool around, stay out of the classrooms and put their own time to waste. As for the first 3, extending the school time reasonably would work.

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Were I work on the 553 there is this School called Cumberland Regional and I have normal kids that transfer from the 553 to 410 to reach there and they tell me that Classes are 1Hr 40Mins long. They have 4 classes 1 lunch a Study hall and other things. Its called Block Schedule. School starts there at 730 and ends 240. Longer classes would prove better but then again the teachers are more for money then actually teaching something.

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Certainly a step in the right direction. To all those who say: Kids are not learning anyway so why keep them in school, the question is "So what is to be done?". Certainly extending school hours and the academic year is better than doing nothing and letting the US slide down every ranking of middle/high school academic performance.

 

As has often been said, less than 1% of the population works in agriculture nowadays, so keeping a tradition of long summer vacations just because it is a tradition makes little sense.

 

It is true that American kids spend more hours in school, but cramming those 1146 hours into two 14 week semesters and letting them idle for the remaining 24 weeks of the year makes really little sense, and is bound to decrease academic performance. I just don't understand it when I talk to my sister (in middle school) and find she is perennially on holiday (Fall break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, Winter break, Mid-Winter recess, Spring break, really long Summer break etc etc). Students in the rest of the world get by fine with 10-12 weeks of holidays in (usually) two breaks in the year, while being in school for 18-20 weeks per semester (or 9-10 week quarters). Even then, most find their memories and cognitive abilities a little rusty after 6 weeks of disuse. (Speaking from personal experience; my family immigrated from Bangladesh two years ago).

 

While college students have the option of taking summer classes to accelerate their degree progress, getting internships or working jobs to save money for expenses during the year, students below 16 years of age have little reason to have extended breaks when learning can be more effectively accomplished by going slower over a longer period of time. As stated in the article(s), children from poorer backgrounds have no opportunity to go to summer camps or undertake other learning programs during the summer. I don't believe in increasing the length of the day; I am certain reducing the number of hours per week spent in class (and lengthening the school year) will have a positive effect on young people's performance in other pursuits such as athletics and also allow greater flexibility in teaching methods (e.g. more after school tutoring for weaker students). Of course, I understand that teachers' unions don't want it that way and would rather its members get paid to do nothing for half of the year (a really sad state of affairs).

 

It's high time the US starts to shed its "traditional" outlook on education, healthcare, public transit etc to catch up with the rest of the world. When you hear people say "The system is broken" regarding just about every social service program, then it's obvious that something needs to be done. I am not a Obama-fanatic mindlessly clamoring for "change", I am simply trying to highlight the issues as I see it.

Edited by MAA89

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Putting kids in school longer will make them unhappy, and hurt their ability to become good at recreational things. It streamlines things. The reason people are having problems being happy and are all trending towards the same careers all the time is they don't have enough free time to pursue their own interests.

 

Take a kid that screws around on the computer all the time when he gets home and gets good with programming. If he's sitting in english class, or art class, or philosophy instead he loses that time "honing his skills" and is now at a disadvantage compared to someone else who didn't lose that time.

 

Same goes for any one who pursues sports, builds something in their garage, or plans to rebuilt a car from the brink of collapse.

 

Kids will also develop an unrealistic (more than already so) expectation of what work is like too, because they won't be working during summers if they are in school. That job experience is useful. If more kids worked real jobs and saw what was out there they'd learn that it's not automatic to land a high paying job out of school. Plus work experience is useful. All the grades in the world don't mean someone will make a good employee.

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I agree with SubwayGuy that many subjects taught in high school are not practical real-life skills, an issue that needs to be addressed.

 

The whole academic system is flawed. In college the people with the lowest GPA's were engineering majors. The people with the highest GPA's were philosophy majors. However, engineering is more job oriented and practical than philosophy or sociology. The emphasis shouldn't be on grades. It should be on how much you learned. Case in point, I got so frustrated with getting C's in courses like Calculus and Organic Chemistry that I switched majors. I took courses like Intro to Music and Humanities in order to pad my GPA. The strategy worked. However, I wound up with a useless degree.

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I like the idea of more school and there has always been ways of extending the school periods. At the way that my school life is currently going, I'll be out of the house from 7:30 AM and won't get home until 8 PM. I don't see how extending it (the way Obama wants it) would do the schedules of people like me any justice.

 

I don't think that it's the fact that kids don't have enough time in school, its the fact that they don't want to put whatever time they get for something positive during the time. There's people who are the honor roll smart, regular passing smart, genuinely trying but failing, and the plain IDC folks. Extending the day just gives the last set of people more time to fool around, stay out of the classrooms and put their own time to waste. As for the first 3, extending the school time reasonably would work.

 

It's not the quantity, it's the quality that makes the difference. If some teacher is babbling for 45 minutes and you don't understand the material then you're wasting your time. The first time I took Calc 2 in college I got a D+ (I'm not ashamed to admit it). When I took it again I got an A. It was the same exact material. However, the first professor was a narcissist who spent more time making jokes than teaching the material. No one knew what was going to be on the test. The second professor explained the topics coherently. The test problems were exactly like the homework problems. He even stayed after class if you had questions. American schools need better instructors in math and science, not surly instructors with thick accents.

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Putting kids in school longer will make them unhappy, and hurt their ability to become good at recreational things. It streamlines things. The reason people are having problems being happy and are all trending towards the same careers all the time is they don't have enough free time to pursue their own interests.

 

Take a kid that screws around on the computer all the time when he gets home and gets good with programming. If he's sitting in english class, or art class, or philosophy instead he loses that time "honing his skills" and is now at a disadvantage compared to someone else who didn't lose that time.

 

Same goes for any one who pursues sports, builds something in their garage, or plans to rebuilt a car from the brink of collapse.

 

Kids will also develop an unrealistic (more than already so) expectation of what work is like too, because they won't be working during summers if they are in school. That job experience is useful. If more kids worked real jobs and saw what was out there they'd learn that it's not automatic to land a high paying job out of school. Plus work experience is useful. All the grades in the world don't mean someone will make a good employee.

 

Also, the other problem that will get much worse is teen stress, if you work em even harder they are much more likely to do drugs, and risky behavior. In the stress of our day to day lives, we often forget or have no time to set aside time for ourselves, for our own interests. Its not healthy to always be stressed out and overworking ourselves, and im sure its even worse for teenagers, they are at the time when they are coming of age, they really need the time to find themselves and figure out what they want to be. Its difficult to compare american grades with those of other countries because the societies are much much different, and have different values and such.

 

Also, im happy I found a subject we agree on :P

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Also, the other problem that will get much worse is teen stress, if you work em even harder they are much more likely to do drugs, and risky behavior. In the stress of our day to day lives, we often forget or have no time to set aside time for ourselves, for our own interests. Its not healthy to always be stressed out and overworking ourselves, and im sure its even worse for teenagers, they are at the time when they are coming of age, they really need the time to find themselves and figure out what they want to be. Its difficult to compare american grades with those of other countries because the societies are much much different, and have different values and such.

 

Also, im happy I found a subject we agree on :P

 

Heh..."agreed"...

 

"Time and Space. Time to be alone. Space to move about. These may well become the great scarcities of tomorrow." -Edwin Way Teale, 1950's.

 

Seems he was right.

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Putting kids in school longer will make them unhappy, and hurt their ability to become good at recreational things. It streamlines things. The reason people are having problems being happy and are all trending towards the same careers all the time is they don't have enough free time to pursue their own interests.

 

Take a kid that screws around on the computer all the time when he gets home and gets good with programming. If he's sitting in english class, or art class, or philosophy instead he loses that time "honing his skills" and is now at a disadvantage compared to someone else who didn't lose that time.

 

Same goes for any one who pursues sports, builds something in their garage, or plans to rebuilt a car from the brink of collapse.

 

Kids will also develop an unrealistic (more than already so) expectation of what work is like too, because they won't be working during summers if they are in school. That job experience is useful. If more kids worked real jobs and saw what was out there they'd learn that it's not automatic to land a high paying job out of school. Plus work experience is useful. All the grades in the world don't mean someone will make a good employee.

 

All your points make a lot of sense. Also, all of this could easily be achieved by forcing children to go to school for 40 weeks a year (or more), but reducing the workload during the school term, and dismissing earlier (by 2:30 or 3pm). There would be ample time after school to learn practical skills and work part-time jobs.

 

It is important to realize that learning is an ongoing progress and not something that can be ratcheted up in intensity without adversely affecting the learner. Starting school in September instead of July like the rest of the world is bad enough. The fact that college and boarding school students often also have to worry about traveling to meet their families during Thanksgiving and Christmas, at a crucial time near the end of the semester, exemplifies how the American school year goes against common sense. Starting school earlier (in July) and dismissing by mid-December would allow a longer semester while still relieving stress related to frequency of exams, travel plans etc. There are countless other examples in the American education system where stress is created by poor planning and pacing of the curriculum that could be addressed by extending the school year, e.g missing a few days due to illness makes a far smaller negative impact if there is sufficient time to catch up.

 

I really do not see how the teachers' union has a leg to stand on. The average American worker works 250 days a year; school teachers and employees do only about two-thirds that.

 

It also seems to me to be a massive waste to have so much educational infrastructure (buildings, materials, buses) lying unused for so much of the year.

 

The stigma surrounding summer school as remedial instruction forced upon weaker students or those indifferent about studying (slackers) is another attitude that needs changing. It will be difficult to get students interested in taking summer classes if they feel that they are being lumped into the same category as the said slackers who did not meet criteria for advancement.

 

I googled the news headline and on most of the sites that came up, readers' comment were divided into two very distinct groups. There was the classic, conservative, Middle American response along the lines of "I don't want my child spending so much time in a government-run institution", "Obama is a socialist hell bent on brainwashing kids", "This is outrageous, all relevant instruction should come from me (i.e. parents)", "Teachers are not baby-sitters" etc ad nauseam. Then there are those who actually agree with school reforms, many citing personal experiences of studying in a foreign country, realizing how far behind Americans are, afterwards returning to the USA and doing well in college and getting decent jobs.

 

http://mygloss.com/mama/2009/09/27/president-obama-says-kids-need-more-school-less-summer-vacation/

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/reader_feedback/public/display.php?source_name=mbase&source_id=2009958057

 

Unless Americans are perfectly happy with a system that is only efficient in producing McDonald's and Wal-Mart workers, school reforms are a categorical imperative.

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