There are not real good stories in the news to which I want to comment (Most of the news is focused on Haiti right now. My prayers go out to all the men and women trying to dig their way out of the rubble). Also, I am currently trying to find an article to confirm some information presented yesterday in during “The Savage Nation.” As soon as I can find the links I will more than likely post it as a News of the Day.
This is one area in which I actually agree with our President. I believe the school year and/or day in the United States needs to be extended to make us more competitive in the world. Where I differ with the president is that it should not be federally mandated. Education has always been a state and/or local issue. Therefore its up to the states and local communities to make those changes. But enough with politics, here is my reasoning behind the extended school day and year.
The main reason the school year and/or day needs to be extended is because we are working within a system that was used over 100 years ago when the society was very different. The nine month school calender was implemented because families need their children to help with the planting and harvesting of the fields. Now in the last 100-150 years our society has moved from primarily rural to urban and suburban. The traditional nine month school calender no longer is valid for about eighty percent of the nation.
The longer school day is also need so that students have a rich and complete education. Nowadays so many different things take up our student’s lives when they should be focusing on school and their education. From basketball practice, to dance recitals and work. All of these things are great and beneficial but how much education has been lost to extracurricular activities, both inside and outside of school. That though is a topic for another time.
The school year would be comprised of three fifteen week trimesters. There would fourteen weeks of content and a week of exams. Between each trimester there would be at least a week break. Generally I would love to see if we could make it so the school “year” runs January through December but that might be stretching it at this point. In the traditional school year format, the first trimester would run roughly from the last week in August to the week before Christmas in December. I have planned for a possible week off during Thanksgiving, as well. The second trimester would run from the beginning of January through the beginning of April. The last trimester would run from the middle of April to the beginning or middle of July. Students would then get 5-6 weeks off as “summer break.” By the way this plan is primarily for high schools since that is the level in which I teach. I fully support year round school for elementary schools with a track system properly implemented.
I would have school start between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning. Each class should run between forty-five and fifty-five minutes. Students would have to take between seven and eight classes a day. This means they would let out between 3:30 and 5:00 in the afternoon. I would not use block scheduling. I know the benefits of the block but find the faults of the system out weight the benefits. In a traditional period schedule student actually have more seat time with each teacher. They get more practice in essential skills in math classes. There it is easier for a teacher to see patterns of behavior, both academically and behaviorally, in the students.
Comments or questions? Feel free to post them. Lets start a discussion.