Monday, November 15, 2010

Longer Days Ahead?

By Halsey Quinn

Shortly into the new school year, President Barack Obama has announced that he would like to make the school year longer for U.S. students. "We now have our kids go to school about a month less than most other advanced countries. And that makes a difference,” Obama said. Countries such as Japan, Korea, Germany and New Zealand have the best student achievement level. They require an average of 197 days of school a year, while the average in the United States is 180.

Education is an aspect addressed by the state; therefore, Obama cannot directly affect the country’s schools. However, federal government still has the power to influence schools, especially through the poverty aid that many of them depend on.
Along with his idea of lengthening the school year, he also announced that the worst teachers have “got to go,” unless they show quick improvements. "It is time to start rewarding good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones," he announced, while suggesting higher pay for the better teachers.

Those who support Obama have an argument it would benefit it would have for American students. The bar has been set high by many foreign countries, and Obama believes that in order for American’s to have a better future, the school year should be extended.

According to Obama, the largest barrier would be money. Better pay for better teachers for a longer amount of time would increase costs for school systems. Critics of this idea argue that a longer school year would bring down many industries that rely on a long summer break to stay alive, as well as summer camps. Also, many businesses rely on students to work during the summer months, but will be missing them for a month more if there is a longer school year.

“The breaks really refresh people,” says Elizabeth Manning, a sophomore at Oyster Bay High School. “When you get into the hard high school classes, the breaks let you catch up on things and give you a moment to breathe.” Most students would likely agree with Manning’s view on the issue.

Dr. Lisa Mulhall, the assistant superintendent of Oyster Bay – East Norwich schools, presents ideas such as “redesigning the concept of school ad altering the way we use the resources of space and time,” as another option to keep students competitive in the global economy. “Perhaps in the future, students will be able to extend their learning through virtual classrooms and online learning opportunities that take place beyond the traditional school building,” she says.

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