Longer school days: why?

“Answer: so the kids have more time to learn and because they’ll have less time to get into mischief, hang out around with bad influences–like family and neighborhood.” Or somethng “comonsensical like tht. What we must do (see Ed Week, 12/12 by Nora Fleming.) is ensure that “every minute of the schoo day is well spent.” (Idle hands, et al) Oddly enough, our “competitors” abroad have shorter student work days and hours, and more time for professionals to gather and hone their craft. And all this on a shorter/lesser budget! And more money spent on testing. And…. How will we know if time is well-spent? That’s where more and more testing fits in well. So, you can guess what the extra time will be devoted to…. I knew you’d get it.

In Finland the teachers teach four hours a day–ditto for Japan, et al. We don’t count lawyer’s hours or doctor’s hours by the minutes spent with clients–and they generally have one client at a time! So why do we think teachers can make sense of many students at a time and virtually no paid professional back-up and planning time?

How do we get away with such nonsense? Possibly by actually having lower expectations for students than we pretend, and thus also for teachers, than we pretend. It’s cheaper to write one script and have a thousand para-professionals “teach IT” in groups of 35–or, coming soon, on-line with one well-trained performer for a thousand or more students?

For that small number who will be educated to be the real ruling class of the future, we can develop another stream once the requirements are met?

I’m just guessing.

Those making policy are either stupid or malign–or some combination of both. Like Ronald Stephens of the National School Safety Council (I’ll check this) reminds us in a great video–school security plans developed by people who know neither schools, teachers nor students well will always end up a total waste of money. And worse.

3 Responses

  1. Deborah, your posts make me happy–thank you! I just spent three long hours in MCAS training (Massachusetts). After a 30 minute lecture reminding me not to allow cell phone use during the test, I was knocked off my seat by the MA data “guru.” We were reminded that MA has spent 100 million dollars on the new Edwin data warehouse. Student grades, schedules, MCAS socres and other data can now be tracked from pre-K to post graduate. (Watch out teachers, Edwin will be tracking data on you, too.) 100 million dollars. 100 million dollars that could have been spent on books, teachers, programs, and people who work with children has been spent on gathering data. To that I also ask, why?

  2. Education in the States (and now in England, it seems : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/secret-memo-shows-michael-goves-plan-for-privatisation-of-academies-8488552.html) has sold its soul. So it is inevitable we get business oriented decision making that is incapable of and disinterested in embracing the often delicate balance and nature of high quality teaching. To them, working people harder and harder is a proportionately ‘goodness’ (to use a word that was used internally in IBM in the 1980s, and may still be used today).

    How do the people reclaim what is theirs from people with such insensitive, money-focused mindsets?

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