School Time, School Time……

Source: Schools in 5 states to add at least 300 hours of classroom time in 2013 – CBS News.

school busFive states were to announce Monday that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the initiative, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.

Although I have no children about 90% of my property taxes goes to our local school system. I don’t really know much about just how my money is spent. But since my country road meets the State highway almost in front of the middle/high school I do see the buses come and go on a daily basis. It seems that they come in the morning between 8:00 and 9:00am and come again in the afternoon between 2:00 and 3:00pm. That is except for Friday when they appear at 2:00pm or even earlier.
Since I have only that metric to work with it seems that the schools in my State could use some additional hours too.  Maybe I am just an old guy with my faulty memory but I seem to remember having to be in our small high school building about 7:45am for a class fifteen minutes later. The afternoon buses pull out after the last class ended at 3:30pm.  We had seven  fifty-five minute classes and a thirty minute lunch break.

The 1950s, when I was in school, seem like ancient times now. There were no computers, heck even calculators had not been invented yet! Forget the Internet,  everything we needed to know was contained in a thirty volume set of books.  Compared to today we needed to learn a lot less to make our way in the world. So, here I am wondering why I spent seven hours a day in the class room when kids today seem to be spending much less to learn much more?  With all the additional stuff kids need to know how can that be??

I really don’t think kids are just smarter than they were in my day so why the shortened school day? The other thing that kind of gets me is that kids today seem to go on so many more field trips than we did.  We, for the most part, spent our seven hours a day learning stuff in the class room. We didn’t go to the local shopping mall, they hadn’t been invented yet, to learn how to shop .  We didn’t go to State parks to learn about nature; we did that with our families and we certainly didn’t go off to foreign countries as some do today. I really can’t recall of a single field trip I took in high school or grade school for that matter.

I really don’t know much about our local school system other than what I read in the local paper, most of that is just sports related, and when the buses come and go. But it sure does seem like kids just don’t spend much time in school anymore. I give a few thousand bucks every year to maintain a large newly renovated school building that sits idle most of the year.  I sure wish I got more for my money.

School days, school day good old-fashion rule days……

6 comments

  1. School was boring—now it is EXCITING! We engage every child every day. Of course students are self directed/motivated. Every child gets an A/B because it is Lake Woobegone. There are NO zeros at our school. A student has a D? The teacher is the problem. Miss so much school that you have 20%? Don’t worry maybe your next higher grade level will work out better for you!
    No one is left behind. The valedictorian shares the stage with the mentally handicapped child with the same GPA. Both are taught in the same classes until high school- so it is not a surprise.
    If a student passes the state test with an excellent nothing happens because a celebration would make others feel bad. We applaud the 63% (passing score on the state test).

    One period a day is placed aside for discussing family and personal issues. We provide everything–from paper to food to medical care (including birth control in many places) to parenting. It takes a community to raise a child. Parents are busy working. They are discouraged from volunteering because they might be spies.

    Alternative schools are for those who are too violent to be in the regular classroom. You know, the kid who tried to stab another child in the room? It is currently full. If a child chooses to cuss a teacher out- the teacher is admonished for not being understanding enough.

    When we tried to extend the school day in my last town, the local merchants balked. Where would they get their cheap workers? Who would babysit the younger children of the house?

    Are you are looking for the education that you got?

    One forty minute period is for teaching of all condensed literature and writing. Others cannot even demand a child quietly read in their room because students might not be at that grade level and find it insulting.
    Forty minutes are spent on Math. Yes, we teach Algebra in 8th grade. Of course we missed the part on multiplication because we don’t want to force a child to memorize something. Forty is on Science which does not have a book and is all experiments. Forty is spent on History or Geography- often taught be the coach who is busy planning the next game. (That has not changed).

    But then, I do remember that many in the “old school” hated how they were taught BECAUSE they were directed to go in a certain path and pushed to do it.

    Soon, I will just be another tax payer($4000 a year) with thirty years of teaching experience and looking for a private school for my grandchildren.
    But what do I know?

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    • Janette, although it is mostly negative thanks for your comments. It sounds like you definitely need to be “just another tax payer” and soon.

      I know all school systems are pretty much locally controlled so there is probably quite a bit of variation. I wonder how typical your experiences are compared to others?

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  2. I wish I could say Janette was wrong, but the jist of what she said is pretty true. It is frustrating for teachers to work in those parameters that won’t “allow” a student to fail. Why won’t they allow it? Education dollars are tied to test scores and performance. If a school doesn’t measure up it is punished and put on probation (more tests and more rules). Parents often abdicate their own responsibility and lay it all on the teachers and schools…day care, nutrition, sports, entertainment. It’s not easy to discipline bad behavior when your hands are tied by threats of lawsuits.
    As far as lengthening the school day or year. Ha! That topic has bounced around for years but the teachers and their unions scream for more money more money more money. I have seen teachers ready to boycott when asked to work an extra 5 minutes at the end of the day to accomodate bus schedules. I realize they are afraid of being taken advantage of, but there is a point where ironclad contract rules should bend.
    That being said….there are still plenty of great teachers who bend all the time and make schools the best they can. But, they can’t buck their unions. It’s not all grim, but it is frustrating and often demeaning for teachers. In my 20 plus years I have seen teachers go from being respected professionals to being treated like assembly line workers and do as they are told by administrators.
    I could go on and on but I’ll spare you. Now, I’m off to volunteer at school.

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    • Good morning Jane, Thanks for the additional picture. From the things I am hearing from you two the first thought I had was that maybe it is time to privatize education! That would allow a parent to put his kid in the flavor of school they prefer. And that seems to agree with Janette who is looking to private schools for her grandkids. I spent the first seven years in a Catholic school and the next nine in public schools ( including a State university). There were differences but not nearly as much as you guys are describing.

      It is interesting to see the different perspective you two bring to the table. I love it that you are both regular commentors here. Thanks for that.

      Ok, so now that I have raised the ire of some of my Democratic friends and readers I might as well drop the other shoe as well. Let’s privatize the post office as well. I think it is time… I sound like a real fiscal conservative now don’t I ? (ha)

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    • I think that the “crack” started much earlier than that. One of the most notable things I discovered when I went from a Catholic 7th grade to a public 8th grade in 1960 was that I had already learned much of what was being taught in my new school. The 8th grade turned out to be more of a re-hash than anything else.

      The discipline was different but it was present in both schools at that time. Rules across the knuckles and standing in a corner by the nuns vs. paddles in the public system. Can you even imagine such a thing happening now??

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