In Education Reform, Don’t Do More of the Same
Massachusetts is experimenting with ways to improve academic performance, including expanding the school day. Roy Romer expresses his approval on Ed in ’08’s blog, commenting that this is the kind of reform Ed in ’08 is promoting:
If we’re going to give our students the tools necessary to compete in a globally competitive workforce, we are going to need to give our students more time and support for learning.
As we’ve seen, Ed in ’08 has great goals but tends to think inside the box. If schools are ineffective, then doing more of the same between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00 is not going to transform the education system.
On the other hand, a longer school day could work well if combined with other reforms. Some charter schools, such as KIPP schools, require students to attend class for extra hours and on Saturdays. And the Massachusetts school profiled in this article didn’t stop at lengthening the school day; it also added new art, music, and enrichment courses.
The advantage of combining a longer school day with parental choice is that the extra school time is targeted to the children who would gain the most from it. Parents might choose to send a child who’s struggling academically to a school with extra afternoon classes, but they might prefer a shorter school day for a child who’s already above grade level.