Monday, August 17, 2009

Is the 180-day school year enough?

Most U.S. Schools are in session for 180 days a year (with school lasting 6 hours, 5 days a week).

In most advanced European and Asian nations, school is in session from 200 to 220 days per year, often for 7 hours a day. (And in many developed nations other than the U.S., people speak more than one language.)

As I've posted about before, the 10-week summer break is based upon an agrarian lifestyle we don't live. As U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan notes in Time magazine, "Our children are no longer working in the fields, and Mom isn't waiting home at 2:30 with a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. That just doesn't happen in many American families anymore."

While having chunks of time off from school is important, having so much of it at once is challenging for employed parents (more child care logistics to manage, more money spent on camps and caregivers) and stay-at-home parents. (Have you ever had to keep bored-to-death school-age children occupied day after day for nearly three months without spending a ton of money or relinquishing control to the TV and computer?)

Also, the long gap is not good for children's brains. Educators estimate that "summer learning loss" causes low-income students, who can't afford academic camps and summer classes, to lose two months of math and reading achievement.

I wish our school year was a bit longer. And I wish regular foreign language instruction started in Kindergarten, or earlier.

Click here to read the Time magazine article "Summer School: What? No more vacations?" (7/29/09) The image used above is from that article.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I have to agree with you. School should be year-round with appropriate breaks smattered throughout.


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