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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

5 reasons why Obama's "more school" idea is for the birds

I'm breaking my own rule here and am going to discuss politics on my usually fun-lovin' blog. But today when I saw the headline that President Obama is calling for longer school days and a longer school year, I just couldn't hold my tongue (or, more accurately, my fingers!).

I think this is a terrible idea for at least five reasons:

1. The parents and students who are engaged in school and who are driven to do their best, will continue doing so. But extending the school day or the school year won't make parents who consider school to be free (or, in the case of private education, paid) babysitting won't be any more apt to encourage their children to learn.

2. More time at school will just cause further erosion of the family. As it is, I only see my children for about an hour in the morning and anywhere from two to six hours in the evening, depending on which day it is (I only work until 2:oopm two days a week). Keeping children at school longer will keep them away from their families longer. I want to do more with my kids besides make sure they get their baths and fix their breakfasts.

3. Children are not little adults. Their brains should not be expected to be engaged in formal instruction for more than six or so hours a day. And there are plenty of people who will argue that even that is too long.

4. Isn't there an obesity epidemic in this country? Aren't gym classes being cut from the schedule in many school districts? What do you think is going to happen when we add another 2 hours of sitting each day? Paging Bob and Jillian...

5. It seems to me that we, as a nation, are losing the ability to relax. I know I'm guilty of being at work all day, coming home and at some point in the evening, getting back on my computer to do more work. We owe it to our kids to teach them that life is about more than work. They need time to explore cultural activities like dance and music, to learn about sportsmanship and hard work on the soccer fields and basketball courts, and to understand the joy that comes from digging for worms or swinging high enough it seems their toes will disappear into the clouds.

I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons why this "more school" idea from the POTUS is a bad idea. But these are the ones that come to my mind first. What do you think? Is President Obama on to something or does he need to be schooled in what America's kids really need?

15 comments:

kimybeee said...

I will quote a friend of mine...We need our kids to be well-rounded, not oblong. Too much of anything is not a good thing. Here they are sorta requiring 3 and 4 year olds to start attending preschool. I totally disagree. My kid's kindergarten teacher said that if girls started school at 5 and boys at 7, they would be on an equal playing field. I would put my hat in the ring for year round school before more school, and no way would I agree to longer days.

By the way, has Obama actually gotten any of his bright ideas to actually be set in motion? The only one I can think of is "cash for clunkers".

Lurve114 said...

I barely am home with school and various sports practices! If we added another two hours to school, I'd see none of my dogs, my family and I probably wouldn't make it to swimming. This is a dumb idea.

Sharon said...

You hit the nail on the head with this one.

Marine Wife said...

Maybe it depends on your local school system. Here, the kids get out at 2p.m. Their school day is a good 45 minutes shorter than the last state we lived (that's an entire class!). They could definitely stand to be there longer... maybe have P.E. every day, instead of only once or twice in a 7-day cycle.

Momza said...

If this happens, I'll be homeschooling for sure. Ridiculous.

Annie said...

I think you are right on! I agree with kimybeee that I would be on board for year-round school schedule LONG before I'd be for longer school days. I have nieces and nephews living in Hawaii with the year-round schedule and they actually love it, so I know it works. Longer days takes away family time, sports time, music/theater/dance time...etc. I also read an article today about how it would affect the travel industry because families wouldn't have the time to go on long vacations anymore. How sad.

Marine Wife said...

Year-round school makes a lot of sense. My nephew and niece have that and my sister loves the schedule. Plus, they are not out so long during their long breaks that they forget everything and have to spend a month re-learning everything at the start of each new school year.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Offering a different perspective (and I've read nothing but a headline on this subject)...

My husband and I both work full time. From the age of 12 weeks, our kids are in full time daycare. And I'd venture a guess that our household isn't the minority in this country. Looking out beyond my own situation, I'd venture a guess that an extended school day would be one way to keep kids out of trouble in those hours from end of school day to end of work day- and studies have shown that those are the hours where most kids get into the most trouble.

Personally, I'm still trying to figure out what we will do once our kids go off to public school. How will we arrange after school care? Will my job or his job offer enough flexibility to at least see our kids off to school each morning?

Schools aren't daycares. I get that. And I don't expect them to be... or do I? It would be more convenient. And provide more stability.

I have no answers. Just offering a different POV.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Also- I would love it if my school district was a year round school. I think the schedule makes a lot more sense!

kimybeee said...

Our elementary schools in my county have after school care until 6pm. The kids that stay get taken care of by teachers. They have a snack and help with their homework. They also have games and play time. I think the cost is around $12.00 a day? I can't imagine how tired any child would be to stay that long, and some of them are dropped off really early. I guess kids get used to their schedules just like we do.


We have a few schools in our state that are year round and they are very successful. I don't know why that hasn't caught on. I know the kids learning and relearning are not an issue with the shorter breaks. My kids are in 8th grade and 10th grade, I don't expect any changes around here.

Cindi said...

I am totally with you on all counts. As a teacher, I also know that I like to continue my own education and sometimes that's just not possible while I'm working. Sometimes I need to take a class or two during the summer.

Yes, let's compare our children to those in China or India. Let's compare expectations. Let's also compare suicide rates.

The Fehrenbachers said...

Year round school is a better option instead of a longer school day. If they had a longer school day I would say put that in place for older children. My 5 year old would have a hard time staying awake and focusing for more time as it stands.

For teachers, the school system should put in place where one semester every certain number of years the teachers take additional classes to expand their skills (paid by the school systems).

Have programs in place like when we grew up, gym every day or perhaps 4 days and one day of health - we are a sit down society now. Let's show our children to get up and move...

ok off my soap box.

Thanks for your great blog. It's ok to add some politics every so often.

Amy said...

Wow! Guess I know how to get you all to comment! I'm totally with everyone that year-round schools are a great option. Neither our school district nor my kids Catholic school offer it, but I would definitely be all for it.

I wish you guys could see the comments on my Facebook page. I have another 10 or so comments there as well.

I think we have to learn to do better with the hours we already have our kiddos in school. And I think we have to quit leaning on the school/government to deliver some things that really should come from parents.

varangianguard said...

Just a couple of thoughts.

Year-round school doesn't add any time to schooling, it simply redistributes the time off.

The idea that more time at school would increase student achievement is driven by a widgets per hour kind of philosophy.

If the extra time was divided between what is now known as "homework" and play (or recreation for the older kids), I think the criticism would become muted? Would you get on the bandwagon for longer school days it there was an end to the drudgery of homework, for example?

Anonymous said...

I think if Obama did anything it he could extend the hours 0f school not the 7 days of the week deal. Thats not going to fly with my family.