Seize the (Kids') Time!

From Barack Obama's speech yesterday on education:

We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed for when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home plowing the land at the end of each day. That calendar may have once made sense, but today it puts us at a competitive disadvantage. Our children -- listen to this -- our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea -- every year. That's no way to prepare them for a 21st century economy (*). That's why I'm calling for us not only to expand effective after-school programs, but to rethink the school day to incorporate more time -- whether during the summer or through expanded-day programs for children who need it.

This idea has been gaining traction already in districts around the country, despite high costs, parental opposition, and mixed results. The trend is largely a reaction to the tests required by No Child Left Behind, which have crowded out so many scholastic pastimes that many academies now want extra hours in order to restore the old activities -- or, barring that, to drill still more for the tests. Forgive me for suspecting those institutions' problems might run a little deeper than a shortage of time.

I have more sympathy for the families who prefer to keep their kids out of school altogether. You might expect the recession to diminish their numbers, but many homeschoolers expect the opposite effect:

Before the recession, the ranks of homeschool students had been growing by an estimated 8 percent annually; the latest federal figures, from 2007, calculate the total at about 1.5 million.

While some families are giving up because of a stay-at-home parent's need to get a job, the recession overall will likely be a further boost to homeschooling, according to parents and educators interviewed by The Associated Press....Christopher Klicka of Warrenton, Va., senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association and co-teacher along with his wife of seven homeschooled children, says hard times enhance homeschooling's appeal as private school tuition becomes unaffordable and some public schools contemplate cutbacks.

"People are looking to homeschooling as an alternative more now in light of economic circumstances," he said, citing its low cost and potential for strengthening family bonds.

At Allendale Academy in Clearwater, Fla., which provides resources for homeschoolers, enrollment has risen 50 percent over the past two years to about 900 students as families desert private schools, says academy director Patricia Carter.

(* Cliché query: Does anyone actually find it compelling to hear the phrase "21st century" appended to any word the speaker wants to stress, as though there were some sort of sea change on December 31, 2000?)

[Hat tip: Bill Kauffman.]

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  • MJ||

    As it should be pointed out, the length of the school year is something that is really not the federal governments business.

    Also, is American education performance problems ones of lack of time? Or is that just the easiest difference to point out?

    My own experience, I went to a private high school considered an excellent college prep school, but our school year was about a month shorter than the public schools. Somehow it managed to a better job in even less time.

  • Nemo||

    I teach in Japanese schools. The last thing we need is to further move our educational system towards an Asian-style one. The whole system here is corroding from the inside, where concern for students takes a backseat to standardization and the ridiculous amount of power had by different interest groups. All that matters here are the exams, and because you are socially pressured to be involved in an after-school thing, the life of a student revolves completely around the school.

  • Abdul||

    Our children -- listen to this -- our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea -- every year.

    The implication, of course, is that American teachers also spend over a month less in school that South Korean teachers. In order to close the time-in-school gap for students, we'll have to close it with teachers.

    Any guess what the NEA-AFT will have to say about this? My guess is they'll say "I can't believe we blew all our union dues elecing this @#$!#@$@!"

  • TofuSushi||

    The president must be the victim of a bad speech writer who I hope has been fired.

    The length of the school day as we know it today evolved to match the factory eight hour workday, with breaks every hour.

    The annual schedule still reflects farming needs with a summer recess to tend to the fields.

  • ||

    My school is trying a mandatory extended school day, and its failing miserably. The problems are many: older kids who are expected to take care of younger siblings now cannot tend to them, kids cannot participate in sports, the hours they might otherwise use to work part-time jobs or take courses at community college (three of my students did this) are now taken up by an extra academic period and mandatory "homework club" activities. Older kids are especially grated by the extra long day; younger children might be more receptive to it, but I don't work with that age group so I would not know.

    I agree that the old farmer-economy schedule no longer works, but I've yet to see a solution that would satisfy parents, teachers, students and administrators. I would not mind teaching year round, if the average school day was then shortened. All of my students, even my best, hit a point of burn-out by 1:30 pm and they just cannot get any new stuff into their heads. Requiring them to spend more mind-numbing hours in school will likely have the opposite of the desired outcome. And if the extended school day is going to have a mandatory "homework period" as my school does, why assign homework at all - just extend the class periods and let them do the homework then and there.

    Schools do need reform, that is not to be argued. But I could point to many more things like "new math" and the special education/multicultural curriculum/standardized testing fetishes of administrators as things that may need to change before we make kids stay in jail for longer than necessary.

  • Untermensch||

    Regarding "21st century" (sic), if Ron Bailey wrote the speech it would clearly be "22nd-century" since the transhumanist movement is clearly going to extend the lives of our children to at least 400 years and they'd better be productive in the next century, dammit!

  • ||

    We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed for when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home plowing the land at the end of each day.

    Can we get rid of fucking Daylight Savings finally then?!?

  • TofuSushi||

    I can stand the "21st Century" refrences in some ways, like "it is the 21st century, women can drive, smoke, drink, even vote from what I hear," or whenever presidnt Obama uses it. Otherwise, not so much.

  • ||

    Since it has now become uncritically accepted that the Feds should be in charge of public education, I propose the abolishment of all local control over public schools to be replaced by a central Federal Department of School Affairs. A lot of resources could be saved and more productively redirected by:

    - equal planning and direction of curriculum
    - ensure equal outcome by administering equal Achievement Evaluation Procedures
    - equal opportunity through access to standardized facilities
    - more equal distribution of funds
    - more equal generation of funds by replacing local property tax with a Federal Education Contribution based on actual wealth, not the highly unequal real estate values.

    Just a few ideas for a better world. The list is only a beginning, the opportunities are virtually limitless!

    Sounds like too much equality? Well, isn't that what this country was founded on, the promise of equality? Should fit right into the current power set's narrative, no?

  • ||

    @MJ - I attended private parochial schools, and our schedule was also shorter by about three weeks a year, and I was well prepared for college.

    Our kids are taking HSPA next week (NJs get-out-of-jail test for high school) and all of our lessons for the past week have taken a back seat to test prep, because federal and state money for our school will be tied to our performance on this test. It's fucked up.

    When I look at the kids who tend to do well, I notice several things about them: they have involved families (parents or otherwise) and are expected to do well. They have discipline to not only study, but also to behave well and have self-respect. Whatever fantasies we might have about being punk-rock-fuck-the-man-its-my-life in our teen years, one still has to has enough self-respect and governance to get along in social situations. And kids with these traits tend to be more conscientious students. Poverty is a factor, but poor kids whose parents expect them to contribute to the household, either via chores, childcare or part-time jobs, also do better on average in the classroom.

    I teach high school, and notice that the level of basic skills and knowledge is severely lacking, so somewhere along the way their elementary school education was substandard or ignored altogether. Making a longer school day will not solved the problem of kids not knowing how to multiply or divide, put periods at the ends of sentences, spell words properly, conjugate verbs, and know the basics of our nation's history.

  • ||

    all snark aside, martin, good points - if we have finally achieve the dream of perfectly level performance for all students, then we will truly, finally, fall into the mediocrity that is demanded of us by those who cry "Equality!"

    brings Anthem to mind...

  • Mark||

    @ Nemo

    I've taught in both South Korea and Japan, and will happily second your opinion of the Asian system. They do a lot of things really well, but the longer school day is not one of them.

    President Obama left out the part where the Japanese teachers devout about a total of roughly two months to getting ready and planning for "Sports Day" and "Culture Day" festivals.

    I do think it should have been noted in this post that President Obama spoke out in favor of vouchers, so while I'm not crazy about lengthening the amount of time everyone gets to spend in school, sticking it to the teachers unions raises my estimation of him quite a bit.

  • ||

    This is just rationalization for fulltime day care.

    People want to have kids but they want to be able to drop them off somewhere for free for the entire day.

    The justification behind these programs is always about the "education" but really its about finding a place to put the kids while you're at work. If the government will pay for it and label it "education" then all the better.

  • Taktix®||

    Can we get rid of fucking Daylight Savings finally then?!?

    Second! I don't get used to my loss of hour until... well, until the fall.

    Daylight savings is a government scheme to make Americans less productive during the summer and more productive around election time -- just in time to boost the economic numbers of incumbents...

  • DJF||

    "Episarch says

    Can we get rid of fucking Daylight Savings finally then?!?"

    The farmers did not have much to do with Daylight Savings Time, it was first imposed during WW1 and now since the US has been at War for my entire life (Vietnam, Cold, Drug, Crime, Terror, etc) it is still imposed by the government.

    Now that we have a War on the Uneducated and will force those who the government determines needs education into sterile rooms for most of the day while "educators" drone on and on about things the government thinks is important we obviously need Daylight Savings Time even more. How else will the kids learn that the government controls everything including time.

  • jtuf||

    Abdul | March 11, 2009, 7:49am | #

    Our children -- listen to this -- our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea -- every year.

    The implication, of course, is that American teachers also spend over a month less in school that South Korean teachers. In order to close the time-in-school gap for students, we'll have to close it with teachers.

    Any guess what the NEA-AFT will have to say about this? My guess is they'll say "I can't believe we blew all our union dues elecing this @#$!#@$@!"



    Good point. Although I think the NEA-AFT's response will be, "Hire more teachers and raise our salaries."

  • Ben Rast||

    Work expands to fill the time available.

  • ||

    I'd be fine with getting rid of Daylight Savings Time by never switching back from Daylight Savings Time. You people content to sleep your life away will get used to it in due course. Why should I give a fuck about it being sunny an hour before I have to go to work? Morning sunlight is wasted sunlight. I want it light out until 9pm! You people can still get your quota of gloom in the winter.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Cliché query: Does anyone actually find it compelling to hear the phrase "21st century" appended to any word the speaker wants to stress, as though there were some sort of sea change on December 31, 2000?



    If anything, it has a negative effect on me, disinclining me to take the speaker seriously thereafter. (Assuming, of course, there was any likelihood I might have taken the speaker seriously in the first place.)

  • Guy Smiley||

    I think that this is a bitter attempt by Obama to get back at people under 18, because they didn't vote for him.

  • ed||

    some sort of sea change on December 31, 2000?

    I'd bet most (public-schooled) people still believe the new millennium began on January 1, 2000.

  • ed||

    Daylight Saving Time, not savings.
    Savings are what banks used to do.

  • ||

    I work with a lot of people who seriously regret having kids. It's quite obvious. They all enthusiastically supported the local switch to "year-round" school. And then they were all pissed that the kids still go to school the same number of days, and instead of a long summer break, they take off one and two week blocks all the time. They seriously wanted their kids in school somewhere on the order of 250 days a year. It's not only the "free" daycare aspect, they obviously hate their kids to want them to be that bored. (And they all bitch about school not being 8-5. No kidding.)

  • ||

    American parents (and anybody else concerned with education) need to say to Obama, the self anointed experts, and the Teachers' Unions;

    "There was a time in America when the public schools could demonstrably teach the majority of students to read, write, and do basic math. They accomplished this without a longer school year, without a great deal of Federal oversight, without a lot of politically correct psycho-babble bushwa, and under local control. Until the Educational Establishment demonstrates a basic ability to do its basic job most of the time, we are unwilling to entertain more demands on out time, our wallets, or our autonomy, in the name of 'education'.

  • hmm||

    If the problem is the length of time then why is the kids coming out of parochial schools are doing fine when compared to the rest of the world? Oddly enough I think Catholic schools attend less class over all when compared to most public schools, they are constantly off for something.

    The public schools are a part of the problem, the larger influence is the lack of parents emphasizing education and taking an active role in making sure their child can compete. Public schools do exactly what they were designed to do. Keep children off the streets and teach them the bare minimum to survive in the world. Unfortunately the bare minimum is a moving scale and that scale has moved without the schools or the parents picking up the slack.

  • Taktix®||

    And then they were all pissed that the kids still go to school the same number of days, and instead of a long summer break, they take off one and two week blocks all the time.

    Duh! What do you think kids do with all that unsupervised, idle time?

    Drugs, that's what! Drugs and crime and more drugs.

    We'd be much better off, as a society, if those same kids were doing public service, like digging holes so that other kids can fill them.

    Chains you can believe in!

  • hmm||

    I need to edit before posting, sorry for the butchered post.

  • ||

    @ SugarFree - there is a kernel of truth there. A lot of parents seem to regard their childrens' summers as inconveniences, but that is partly due to the demands of careers and the necessity of dual income households. Bosses don't necessarily care that you are a parent - you have a job to do, and ought to parent on your own time.

    I am seriously considering homeschooling my daughter and leaving the workforce altogether, but its nearly impossible given the COL. And I believe I live fairly modestly. But its a matter of scale. Besides, my own hubris drives me to the mission of being a schoolteacher who brings reason and sanity to an insane system, saving a handful of students where and when I can.

    @Schofield - right on the money.

  • ||

    @Taktix - one of the stated reasons for the extended school day at my institution is "to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble." As though the only civilized time they spend each and every day is between 7:45 am and 5:00 pm everyday when they are in school. Lord, what about weekends! Why not have school on Saturday too! - oh wait, I forgot - we have SATURDAY school also! A half-day program for all students to get more school, cuz more skool equals more gooder.

  • jtuf||

    Winslow Theramin | March 11, 2009, 8:13am | #

    This is just rationalization for fulltime day care.

    People want to have kids but they want to be able to drop them off somewhere for free for the entire day.

    The justification behind these programs is always about the "education" but really its about finding a place to put the kids while you're at work. If the government will pay for it and label it "education" then all the better.



    Daycare is a big part of the push for schools. So is keeping kids out of the workforce to drive up wages. I understand not wanting kids on in risky fields, like construction or porn, but a few hours of office or retail work can be benefitial to all involved. It is illogical to make a teenager quit his job as a cashier so he can spend more hours at school unpaid, so the teacher can fit in a lesson on "real life math" that simulates being a chashier. Plenty of schools succeed with the current school schedule. Making students spend more time in poorly run school will just result in those schools wasting even more of their time.

    Perhaps we should support a campaign to require that public schools pay students minimum wage for the time the students spend there. Once school boards have to pay for the time they demand from students, they might respect the time more. It's similar to the demand that towns pay people for the property they take instead of just regulating it into the use they want. Besides, it would be a difficult campaign to oppose. I would love to see school boards try to explain why they think minimum wage is way too much to pay children.

  • TofuSushi||

    Taktix®, was that your version of "The Music Man" @ 8:50am? The origonal is a bit snappier, with things that rhyme and stuff.

  • ||

    Madbiker,

    A teacher on a libertarian board swells my heart with pride. I had a bare handful of good public school teachers, and the rest were just awful shading into hope-you-die-cold-and-alone-in-a-ditch. Keep up the good work.

  • Bob||

    cuz more skool equals more gooder.

    tru That dunn be moore gooder whut we dun Gots the more eddjewcayshun we be more dunn. smartlier

  • Bob||

    Git a brane morans

  • ||

    Daylight Saving Time

    This phrase still makes little sense to me.

    But on the main subject, I agree that quantity (of time) should not be conflated with quality (of education).

  • ||

    I work with a lot of people who seriously regret having kids.

    I'll cosign and I will tie in the foresight of this phenomenon with the decline of the population of Western Europe. Kids are a pain in the posterior, wondrous tykes they may be.

  • ||

    @SugarFree - thanks. It's getting tougher though. The NJEA has finally realized that my school (an independent charter) is not going away, and now they want to unionize our staff. I am resistant to joining, but whether you join or not, you have to pay about 85% of what their full dues would be for administrative fees, etc., since I would potentially benefit from their collective bargaining agreements. I wouldn't get legal representation should someone file tenure charges against me, unless I join the union and pay the extra 15% worth of dues.

    They have me by my proverbial balls. It will be the same or worse if I move to another public school.

    Catholic schools won't have me, since I tend to sizzle a bit when holy water lands on my apostate head.

  • ||

    Madbiker,

    I'm going to bookmark that for the next time I hear the constant refrain "Why don't libertarians like unions?"

  • !||

    Daylight-Saving Time ==> Time that saves daylight

  • ||

    SF, I'm an odd sort when it comes to unions. The collective bargaining unions like the NEA do nothing for me, since I'm expected to pay for my own training and education (I don't mind this) and get little in return for the protection I pay for - it's a racket in every sense of the word.

    Yet, when it comes to skilled labor and trade unions, I don't really have much opposition. My husband's local provides his training both in the classroom and on the job (he's a welder/pipefitter) and he works at the pro-rated apprentice wage level until he reaches journeyman status, but he's getting training. He is not guaranteed to have a job, only that when he works he is guaranteed a certain hourly wage. His local manages their own pension and welfare fund with great success, and has recently told some of their journeymen to get off their asses and take job tickets, or lose contributions to your welfare fund. It's not all that bad, and functions like a business as much as any other, in most respects. At least his union dues go into something useful - continued education, investment in the administration of his pension and surety funds, etc.

    The teacher's union(s) function very differently. There is no hall for me to shape and take a ticket as a teacher, no guarantee of a consistent wage level or benefits, and no provision for paid-for professional development. Union dues paid by teachers basically get you a monthly magazine and a powerful lobby that I find works against education.

  • Bingo||

    Oddly enough I think Catholic schools attend less class over all when compared to most public schools, they are constantly off for something.



    I can vouch for that. Our class schedules were modelled after college schedules. 3 hour blocks with no class and being out by 1 PM were pretty common. Mind you, the teachers were well aware of the situation and generally compensated for it with their assignments.

  • ||

    Madbiker,

    I have less problem with skilled labor unions as well, mostly because they act as a bonding function. I don't like some of the barriers of entry they represent, but I'd rather have someone with at least some demonstrable skill set working on my house. I imagine that sort of "cautiousness" would cost me the same in a non-union environment anyway. (Not that either could ever be a perfect system.)

    And skilled labor with be at an ever escalating premium. I work at a public college. I see kids that should be plumbers, mechanics, and electricians all the time, bored out of their minds and wasting prime earning year wading through Beloved for the fifth time.

  • ||

    How about bringing discipline back? That would solve a lot of problems, and it's free!

  • ||

    SF,

    one of the things that disappoints me is the loss of "shop" classes at high schools. No more auto shop, wood shop, industrial arts classes, drafting...all gone in most of the schools where I've interviewed for positions.

    I see kids ready to start working a trade while they are still in high school, but no one gears them towards skilled labor trades any longer. Its become a denigrated sector of our economy, it seems. At least in NJ it is.

    My husband was working in a high school for sometime, refitting the sprinklers in the boys locker rooms, and he came across some students who marveled at the blue prints of the building and asked "what are those?" Hubby couldn't believe that they'd never seen a blue print. Not being able to read one is forgivable enough, but the kids were clueless. One kid told him he was going to be an engineer, and my husband thought that was odd that a prospective engineer did not know what a blueprint was or what to do with it.

  • ||

    Drafting? That was one of the few classes I actually liked. Boo!

  • Warty||

    Horseshit. The last thing kids need is more time being held prisoner by incompetent, jaded failures.

  • ||

    Daylight-Saving Time ==> Time that saves daylight

    I'm not trying to be pedantic, I understand that Daylight Saving Time is an artificial adjustment meant to preserve the amount of daylight within the waking hours of the average working adult, I just meant that a literal interpretation of the words leaves a lot to be desired, and I guess this can be understood in the division between 'time' when seperated by hours, days, or months. OK, maybe I am being pedantic.

  • chester||

    "We can no longer afford an academic calendar..."

    It already being 2 months into 2009, those puppy-a-day calendars are actually quite cheap. Get 'em while they last.

  • ||

    I've been going to this high school for seven and a half years. I'm no dummy. I know high school girls.

  • Zeb||

    Where do people get the idea that daylight savings time has anything to do with farmers? Farmers are the last people who would want it. Cows don't look at the clock.

    Long summer vacations from school are the greatest thing in the world. To get rid of them would be a tragedy.

  • ||

    Can you imagine the street value of this mountain?

  • ||

    She only speaks French, NutraSweet. She doesn't speak imbecile.

  • ||

    I see kids ready to start working a trade while they are still in high school, but no one gears them towards skilled labor trades any longer. Its become a denigrated sector of our economy, it seems. At least in NJ it is.

    I do wonder why we started looking down on such jobs. Not everyone can or should be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, accountant, teacher or other "professional". It seems that the only thing that our education system really prepares a person for is to become a school teacher.

    The current system certainly does nothing to foster individuals' unique talents and aptitudes. If anything, kids not being "well rounded"(or possessing the same skill level in all areas) is seen as a detriment.

  • ||

    My recollection is that most of the time spent in school now is already wasted. Extending the school year will simply expand the amount of time wasted.

    Work expands to fill the time available.

    So does boredom.

  • ||

    I agree get rid of daylight savings time. The extra hour of daylight is drying up my garden.

  • ||

    I can understand the desire of parents to extend school, for the daycare aspect of it. But, why is it absolute that the extra time would be necessary for children who can be home by themselves or at a job? If the real need behind this is for daycare, have interactive programs for kids between kindergarden and 5th grade that are a break from regular school classes.

    Get them some exposure to art and music beyond the traditional one hour a week. Get them some exposure to the outdoors where they can run off some steam that's been building from sitting in class all day. Get the younger ones a nap. Get the older ones some exposure to practical uses like showing them what an engineer actually does, the blue prints, the drafting calculator, show some National Geographic videos, let them be creative and talk to each other and the program teachers about what they like, what they think they might want to do in junior high, high school, college, and for a career. I was so uninformed at that age, I didn't even know what unique classes were available in junior high. I didn't find out until I got there and by then it's too late to get into them. Change things up. Sometimes being exposed to new ideas, rather than the basic classroom stuff, can get kids interested in life instead of bored by it.

    As it stands now, they try to infuse these things in the regular school day, but instead of doing it after 2pm, they interupt class for an assembly. I don't think we ever completed a text book from beginning to end when I was in school. I always remember the last chapter or two being missed because the semester or school year was over. Yyou know that chapter. It's the one where the Vietnam War is taught.

    In the end, I think these things should be tried...but not mandatory. Let the junior high and high school kids do what they want to do. Some will be in band, some in drama, and some in sports. Others will work. None of those are bad things.

  • ||

    was that speech scary to anyone else, or just me? this part is especially troubling...

    'And that's why we are going to offer 55,000 first-time parents regular visits from trained nurses to help make sure their children are healthy and prepare them for school and for life. '

    Whats that obama? you are going 'offer' to have government agents (sure call them 'nurses') check up on parents to make sure the children are healthy and prepared for school and life? why don't you cut out the middle man and take the children at birth as have the federal government raise them. seriously, talk like this from obama is fucking scary, atleast to me it is. The federal government has no business telling states or parents how to raise and educate their children. The only result of federal intervention in our schools will be indoctrination of our children and removal of our rights as a parent. And obama employs his standard 'cause of the hour' bashing tactics to convince americans that they need to let him save their children from being illiterate. He stands up there on his podium and spews forth unprovable and phony statistics that border on propaganda to make it seem like our educational system is complete shit. It is very similar to his 'gloom and doom' speeches on the economy in an effort to get people to blindly accept his unprecedented expansion of our federal government. It seems that scaring people in to blindly following him is the basis of obama's presidential style.

    God help us all. Here's hoping there is still an america that is recognizable once obama, pelosi and friends are through applying their vision of a socialist utopia on an american public too scared about everything to reject it.

  • Robert||

    Why don't we get the federal government out of the education system altogether? Have they proven they do it better than local governements? We send tax dollars to Washington, so the feds can chew it up and then send a small portion back to the localities, while demanding programs that are and will continue to fail. Why do we pay these people to fail?

  • Michael P.||

    (* Cliché query: Does anyone actually find it compelling to hear the phrase "21st century" appended to any word the speaker wants to stress, as though there were some sort of sea change on December 31, 2000?)

    "Prepare them for a 21st century economy" is code for "that's exactly how long it'll take for your kids to pick up my tab."

  • ||

    @ceanf, these are the scary thoughts that keep me up at night. I resent government taking responsibility away from parents to keep their children healthy; yet, it seems that some parents do need help in this area, especially very young unwed parents in impoverished areas (rural and urban) who do not have access to healthcare or, more importantly, knowledge of how to properly feed and care for a child. Sometimes families and communities are lacking in the ability to provide guidance and support, so it must come from somewhere.

    @David, I don't know whence came the denigration either. It seems that emphasis on college as the only path to success has placed an inflated value on formal education.

    A story for you: I am seeking a new job, because my current one is over 90 minute commute one way and I have a newborn at home and am not willing to leave her in the care of someone else for 11 hours a day. I interviewed at a public school in a wealthy community with an intense academic focus. I asked what happened to the 6% of students in the district who did not go on to four year schools, and the snotty little prick I was interviewing with told me he didn't know because "we send them out of district to a vo-tech and don't follow up on their post secondary lives." He had such an air of superiority about him as he said this, and he had an obvious distaste and doubt about my qualifications, as I have only taught at an urban school with low (but improving) test scores and graduation rates. He did not think much of me, my school, or students who are not college bound. I did not even send him a courtesy thank-you for his time, since I was an obvious waste of it.

    I decided after that interview that I am going to work in poorer school districts or vocational schools. Students in those environments have every right to good, conscientious, well-educated, experienced teachers as kids in hoity-toity districts. If this guy's attitude is an example of what other administrators and teachers feel or think, we are in for some rough roads ahead in terms of education, jobs, our economy, and the general sense of self-worth we hope to imbue in our future generations.

  • ||

    Sometimes families and communities are lacking in the ability to provide guidance and support, so it must come from somewhere.

    There are multitudes, multitudes, of non-governmental places to go for family guidance and support.

    After having worked somewhat incidentally with dysfunctional families for years, I can say that many actually cling to their dysfunction, it is who they are, the source of the daily drama that they are addicted to, and is the product of bad choices, repeatedly and insistently made. Trying to help most dysfunctional families is a complete waste of time, because they don't really want to change. Sadly, the kids model themselves on their parents all too often.

    The ones who do want to change have no shortage of private/civil society resources to draw on.

  • ||

    Why do we pay these people to fail?

    Given all too many of Our Master's vision for our future, I would rather pay them to fail than pay them to succeed.

  • ||

    I know, RC. I think private resources are best, whether community or church based.

    Your point about dysfunction being addictive is spot on. One thing that much of that dysfunction causes is dependence on outside sources (government, private charity) to help alleviate the consequences of dysfunction. There seems to be no requirements or incentives to stop the insanity of the recipients of aid, especially when government programs come to the rescue. It's fine to get government aid, but dog forbid someone require that you change your life in a meaningful, measurable way.

  • Untermensch||

    "Prepare them for a 21st century economy" is code for "that's exactly how long it'll take for your kids to pick up my tab."



    ?? Am I the only one who thinks you've missed the start of the century MIchael. I only wish it would take until the 21st century to pay off this debt...

  • lrv||

    I'd support year-round school, IF kids went for 4 days and had 3 day weekends, and IF the 4 day work week were standard for adults, too.

    The 5 day work week is archaic at best.

  • Brock||

    It's been a long time since I've gone to visit the Iowa relatives, so I completely missed the switch from the family farm to the robotic food generator that sits in your pantry and automatically spits out arugala salads.

  • twv||

    I've long thought one of the advantages of home schooling would be year-round learning. But then, one of the advantages of not having kids is not having to worry about this stuff, on a practical level.

    When I was in school, years and years ago, I noted that I tended to forget the math I'd learned the previous year over a summer of doing absolutely no math. I thought it would make sense to attend school once per week for refresher work and assignments. And to plug away at a slightly slower pace.

    This still seems to me a better idea than Obama's.

    Of course, if parents really cared about their kids' educations, there would be a market for such services now. And there is: a small one. Some parents with schooled kids do provide tutors and home-schooling and similar auxiliary programs during the summer school closings.

    Since most of my high school time was a waste, I did not dream about extending the waste of full-time schooling to the whole year. Indeed, I had the sneaking suspicion that one school day a week in the summer might outshine five days per week in the rest of the year.

  • ellipsis||

    Copious amounts of Better Off Dead quotes make any thread better.

    Don't forget the best one: "This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?"

  • ||

    I do think it should have been noted in this post that President Obama spoke out in favor of vouchers, so while I'm not crazy about lengthening the amount of time everyone gets to spend in school, sticking it to the teachers unions raises my estimation of him quite a bit.



    Dear sir, why would you confuse the President "speaking out in favor of" something with actually doing anything about it? It seems to me that he's going to sign a bill to cut off the DC voucher program that criminally achieves the same student performance with higher satisfaction and spending one-fourth the money per student. How exactly, is he "sticking it to the teachers' unions?"

  • Alfalfabit Soop||

    ""There was a time in America when the public schools could demonstrably teach the majority of students to read, write, and do basic math. They accomplished this without a longer school year, without a great deal of Federal oversight, without a lot of politically correct psycho-babble bushwa, and under local control. Until the Educational Establishment demonstrates a basic ability to do its basic job most of the time, we are unwilling to entertain more demands on out time, our wallets, or our autonomy, in the name of 'education'."

    We need to overturn Brown v. Boad of Education. That's when all this shit started.

  • Alfalfabit Soop||

    "A lot of parents seem to regard their childrens' summers as inconveniences, but that is partly due to the demands of careers and the necessity of dual income households."

    Kids did better in school when mom was at home.

  • Alfalfabit Soop||

    "I do wonder why we started looking down on such jobs."

    During the Viet Nam War. Smart kids avoided the draf by going to college. The rest were just stupid. I mean hey, they were in the evil millitary. Only good for cannon fodder.

  • ||

    What the system needs is more private schools that are free to experiment with different schedules. Let the parents decide what time the school day should end by picking schools that conform to their needs.

    I see no reason why the school year shouldn't be all year round until kids are old enough to take care of themselves. What the hell do people who have kids DO in the summer anyway?

    It doesn't even have to be all lessons anyway.
    You could have a private school that's half play time up until age 10 if you felt like it.

    The possibilities are endless. What fucks it all up is the central control imposed by the government in the form of testing and curriculum requirements.

    of course, sicne we don't have private institutions that rate or monitor schools for performance, the government will have to stay there for now. But you could just make the ratings and test scores public, let parents choose their kids schools, and lift restrictions on the correct way to teach.

  • ||

    ...so, we don't have farms in the United States anymore? We don't need food? Or is it wrong for a farmer to want their children to help out in the summer? Dang, maybe we do need more schooling, because I guess I just don't get it. (wait!...it's a bad thing to teach children the value of the land and heaven forbid any child should have to do manual labor!...did I get it?)

  • economist||

    I think I skipped, by some means, an average of 14 days of school per semester, from sixth grade to twelfth grade.

  • ||

    The 5 day work week is archaic at best.

    Maybe for offices. For retail, healthcare, and any industrial process that can't be shut down, not so much.

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