March 26, 2007

Lengthening the school day for kids.

Is lengthening the school day the solution for failing schools? I think not. In fact, I think it is a morally wrong solution. It's bad enough that children are cooped up and physically restrained for as long as they are to get through a school day. To justify that physical restraint, adults owe children a lot. If the adults are now failing to do what they owe children to justify physically restraining them, it is outrageous to attempt to make up for their own failure by increasing the restraint. What makes it worse is that the solution is inflicted disproportionately on minority kids. Oh, but it's a benefit! It's not as if we're proposing to put them in jail during those long afternoons when they might otherwise be roaming the streets.

Side note: At the link, there is an adorable photo of two little girls looking at a worm. Since the newspaper article is presenting the proposal in a positive light, it would like you to picture cute young girls benefiting by hands-on science classes. Please don't picture older boys slumped in chairs.

UPDATE: The same issue of the NYT has this article about a study showing about the time spent in day care:
A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class — and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade.

72 comments:

rafinlay said...

I think much of the problem with the education system is that too many parents do not care about their kids' education; they just want a place to park them. So the longer they stay there, the better for these parents.

David said...

The public schools have already been entrusted with important resources in vast quantities--not only the billions of dollars, but twelve years in the lives of most of America's children. To a substantial extent, they have failed utterly in their stewardship of these resources. The idea that the solution lies in giving them control of *more* resources, in the form of even larger chunks of children's lives, is almost obscene.

Parker Smith said...

I think year round school (4 quarters, with 2-3 week breaks in between) makes more sense - unless we still need the kids to help with planting and harvesting...

SteveR said...

If we have learned anything in the last 30 years, its that "day care" does not equal "education". Hard to see this as anything but the former.

"Gee this isn't working so lets do it some more."

Jim Hu said...

And both the Times and WaPo report on a study correlating time in day care with bad behavior later. The effect is small and other aspects of the study raise another question

The Emperor said...

"Morally wrong" seems like a bit much, but it's not likely to help with education. We need better teachers and smaller classes. Otherwise it's just a bunch of bored kids daydreaming their way through the day. Although I suppose that may be better than watching cartoons at home.

Jennifer said...

I'm in complete agreement with you. I think its already ridiculous that kindergarteners are strapped to their seats for 6 - 7 hours with one short recess. And they bring home 1 - 2 hours of homework a day! Ridiculous! Way to beat the love of learning right out of children.

There has to be a better way to improve the dismal results we're currently seeing.

We had a high school almost closed down here last year, and they managed to rally alumni and parents and make marked improvements in student proficiency in the space of a year. Why does it take threats of closure to motivate the school and the parents to accomplish what they should already have been doing?

The failing public school system is so very frustrating to me, because I have no idea what they *should* be doing. But, some of the ideas proposed (like lengthening school days) don't sound like the right thing to me.

Simon said...

"What makes it worse is that the solution is inflicted disproportionately on minority kids."

I didn't see that in the story. It does say that "the trend could accentuate the differences between poor and middle-class students, with low-income students forced to spend longer hours behind their desks," so are you saying that it has a disproportionate impact on minorities because it has a disproportionate impact on the poor and minorities are disproportionately poor?

MadisonMan said...

"Gee this isn't working so lets do it some more."

There has to be a better way to improve the dismal results we're currently seeing.

so are you saying that it has a disproportionate impact on minorities because it has a disproportionate impact on the poor and minorities are disproportionately poor?

If you read these comments, but substitute the topic from School-lengthening to the Surge of troops in Iraq, you get some very interesting quotes.

I'm not sure why I thought of doing this.

peter hoh said...

The change I want to see: high school starting later in the day and ending later in the day. Here in St. Paul, the public high school day runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Does that make any sense?

peter hoh said...

MadisonMan, don't forget the standard line that the problem with (fill in the blank) won't be solved by throwing more money at it.

RogerA said...

Why do we maintain a 19th century agararian based approached to the school YEAR? Kids are no longer needed to work the family farm during the summer. How about year round schooling? With perhaps a later start.

As much as I lapse into teacher/educational system bashing, until we crack the tough nut of smaller class sizes, I don't see how the system can improve too much. It is hard enough teaching college students when class sizes get beyond 30; I can only imagine what its like for younger children and hormonally stressed pre-teens and teens.

Ann Althouse said...

My reason for seeing the solution as something aimed at minority kids? Obviously, it's eclipsed in the article, which is boosting the idea, but the key word is "urban."

MadisonMan said...

I also should have added that I don't mean to hijack the thread. Lengthening the school day is a nutty idea.

I have two kids who are morning people. So they don't mind the early start, but maybe the tune will change as the age.

Fatmouse said...

"How about year round schooling?"

Were I still a pre-adolescent, I'd want to kick you in the shin.

Summer vacation is one of the few times in your life when you can be totally free. No need to study, no need to work, no need to provide for yourself. There was a great Calvin and Hobbes strip about this.

The three-month length is important because that's an eternity to little kids. At the beginning of the vacation it's hard to imagine ever going back, and that has to be one of the most wonderful feelings imaginable.

Sure, you can goof off when you're retired, but by then your're too old to enjoy it. No one wants to see an 80-year-old running through the sprinkler.

Joan said...

Fatmouse, ITA about the summer vacation thing, but it's on its way out, rapidly. Here in Arizona there is no justification for long summer vacations, and many school districts have already moved to the year-round calendar. My kids' school will most likely move to a modified year-round, with longer breaks in the October and March (we already get a week off in each) and a shorter summer. So the school year will run from mid July to early June. I believe the teachers when they say it prevents "brain drain" and reduces the amount of re-teaching they have to do in the fall. But I still want my kids to be able to enjoy long and lazy summers -- I enjoy them, too!

At my kids' school the day is already long, too: 8:15 to 3:15, which is at least half an hour longer than any of the other schools around. The day is well-managed with multiple recesses and PE, so it's not as if the kids are strapped to their desks all day long.

7 hours is the maximum I'm willing to accept, though. I already feel as if I barely see my children during the week.

Mike said...

I doubt that lengthening the school day is a good idea, but as for this:

"It's bad enough that children are cooped up and physically restrained for as long as they are to get through a school day. To justify that physical restraint, adults owe children a lot."

Give me a break. Adults owe children the best possible education we can provide, and to the extent that we fail at that it is to our discredit. Adults do not owe children a 16 year long vacation free from the responsibilites of work that the rest of the human race is encumbered with. In the children's case, their obligation is to learn so that they are ready to take our place when we depart. Sorry, but life ain't a rose garden.

(Hmmm. Must be Monday)

Bissage said...

I’m all in favor of a longer school day so long as the children spend that extra time marching on treadmills generating electricity.

Patrick said...

"If you read these comments, but substitute the topic from School-lengthening to the Surge of troops in Iraq, you get some very interesting quote."

With this then it would be an odd reaction to say that the answer should be to pull all kids out of school altogether in a year.

I'd actually be a fan of this idea if the school lengthening meant there was a 2-3 hour block there in the middle where kids would be outside where they could do whatever they want -- outside. Maybe every school could plant a little forest too, where kids could get lost in a small plot of wilderness.

Bruce Hayden said...

HS should start later. It is really a crime against nature to expect teenagers to be alert at that point in the day.

For years, we thought it was just because they are lazy. It isn't. Melatonin production in teenagers shuts down around 8-9 or so in the morning in teenagers, and maybe 2-3 hours earlier for adults. So, we are expecting them to be fully alert when they are still producing the "sleep" hormone.

I too think that summer vacations are silly for at least HS kids. I read one place that our average was 180 or so days a year, and the Japanese some 240 days. Even if not accurate, they do have a much longer school year than our kids do.

And why? The oft repeated answer is that it is a result of an agrarian past. Another is that many schools aren't air conditioned. But I think the real one is that the unionized educrats see this as a major perk.

Yes, the big reason that our kids are home in the summers is that the unionized teachers like the time off.

Telecomedian said...

Bruce Hayden makes a great point about why year-round schooling has never really caught on, the teachers' unions. I agree that year-round schooling makes sense from an educational standpoint - countless studies have shown that most kids retain little of what they learned after a longer break than short breaks. I think the elementary and middle schools need to go to full-year schedules, and that high school should still have the summer break for the vital role P/T summer jobs have in the economy.

However, if school districts should go to year-round schedules, they'd better pay the teachers more. My ex-girlfriend is a public high school teacher, and she couldn't afford to live in the DC area without working a p/t job during the school year AND working during the summer.

For many teachers, summer is a break from teaching, but it's not a break from working. Pay needs to reflect that.

Internet Ronin said...

Year-round schools are the answer, not longer hours. Would result in a 33% increase in average teacher pay and attract better qualified teachers as a result.

Jennifer said...

Sorry, but life ain't a rose garden.

LOL Mike. That's right! What the hell do those 5 year olds think they are!?!? Children!?!? No way. Just cogs in the machine, man.

Balfegor said...

I don't have a problem with the longer schoolday or longer schoolyears -- my cousins, who attended middle and high school in Seoul, regularly had school, after school activities, cram school, etc. from dawn until nightfall, and they seem to have turned out quite well. Potentially, this kind of shift could bring benefits to Americans, particularly in urban environments.

The problem I see, though, is that public schools are badly staffed and pupils simply do not learn.

Reading educational blogs, from teachers and so forth, a lot of this seems to be a simple discipline problem, where the "rules of engagement," as it were, are too restrictive, and principals and school boards won't back up teachers who actually try to discipline their pupils so they can teach them. And a lot of it seems to be that schools are filled with teachers who can't be bothered to teach, since they've got a union, and it's impossible to fire them.

But a lot of it also seems to be that the pedagogy taught by the educational experts is simply bunk -- recently, there's been a series of posts going through the education blogs on something called "Direct Instruction," which apparently blows away the modern pedagogical approaches for all races and socioeconomic strata. Teachers who have used it seem to be uniformly positive about it too. But teachers and school districts are evidently reluctant to adopt, because it severely restricts teacher autonomy. There's also been talk about the Madison school district making outlandish claims about the success of their de-phonics-ed program. I also recall reading (possibly on the site linked above) that in a review of 70 educational studies, only five or so were found to have an acceptable study design. That's ridiculous.

So if, within the constrains of the current undisciplined, union-run, education-expert-driven system, we were to extend the school day, I don't think we'd see much improvement in scores or behaviour. Just more truancy or something. But I don't think the idea itself is problematic, just our state schools.

Atticus said...

Where I grew up, the kids are still needed to work on the farm in the summer. Where do you think that great midwestern work ethic comes from? It isn't from kids working all day with their business analyst parents.

Small class size: How is it possible that there were around 35 kids in my classes when I was in grade school, and we managed to learn? Why do we assume that teachers can't handle large groups now? My answer is that discipline is harder, that children don't behave as well as they used to. Parents don't back up the teachers, the administration doesn't back up the teachers. The teachers are stuck sending the kids to a "Positive Action Center" when they misbehave.

As for year-long school, I don't think the teachers are the ones against that idea. They would love to take a ski trip in February, or travel to New England for the fall leaves.

Atticus said...

(Oh--you did mean "lengthening" didn't you?)

Joe said...

In my direct experience (covering both me and my children), while public schools could be improved, they still do a remarkably good job. I think there is room for improvement and make the following observations.

1) No child left behind has done far more harm than good.

1a) Federal mandates give schools too many social responsibilities.

These two items have put a tremendous burden on teachers and administrators. The amount of federally mandated paperwork schools have to fill out is mind boggling. Not only does it sap teacher's time, but is very expensive for school districts. The end result is that alleged increased spending for students is being more than offset by this nonsense.

2) The various teacher's unions are the second biggest impediment to improving the classroom.

They prevent bad teachers from being fired and keep starting salaries obscenely low. (Pay for experienced teachers really isn't bad, once you consider the hours and very good benefits, including retirement.)

Unfortunately, teacher's unions are also largely responsible for creating a monopoly by:

3) The requirements for becoming a teacher are just plain dumb.

I have worked as a professional computer programmer for almost nineteen years, yet I can't go to my local high school and teach a computer programming class. To get a teaching certificate, I would have to take what is widely considered the biggest bunch of bullshit classes ever invented.

Cat said...

Bissage - you made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

For the record, I don't believe a longer school day is the answer.

What I think is a better idea is breaking up the classes by ability more. I have been told by friends with kids that (in NYC) separting slower/remdials from average and advanced students is now frowned upon due to social stigma and the idea that somehow being around bright kids will make the slow kids bright. Other parents, is this the norm?

I think while there may be a social stigma, kids should be separated by ability. Maybe have small mandatory (if they are below a C or are a D student struggling) after school tuturials for the kids who need one on one instruction.

mcg said...

One of the local elementary schools here has taken seriously the studies that show that, at the elementary school level at least, assigning homework does not improve academic performance. They've dispensed with all homework except reading and make-up work, and are actively encouraging families to substitute quality time together with the time that is freed up. Applause!

I'm also in favor of the year-round school idea. I can understand the romanticism attached to summer vacation, but I think it's a bit over-romanticized. Not that I'm arguing that all that time should be spent in school; as the other poster said, let's have some serious vacation periods in between quarters.

Mike said...

Hi Jennifer:

Of course they're children, but Ann's notion of what adults "owe children to justify physically restraining them" is ridiculous (sorry, Ann).

cokaygne said...

Jennifer said,

"The failing public school system is so very frustrating to me, because I have no idea what they *should* be doing. But, some of the ideas proposed (like lengthening school days) don't sound like the right thing to me."

That is why parents, wherever possible, should be given a choice about where to send their kids for school. Just think about offering schools tailored to fit the parents' knowledge about what their kids need, and giving parents the resources to access those schools. People are doing this anyway. Consider the correlation between house prices and educational quality of local schools in almost any major metropolitan area. The only people who don't get to choose are mostly poor, disproportionately minority people stuck in large urban school districts where policy is made by teachers unions and those whom they put into office with large donations.

Never more talk about "vouchers" or "competition" amongst schools. The common sense approach is that different kids have different needs and those needs should be accmmodated in so far as is possible by the structure, not the other way around.

Atticus said...

Cat,

The newest thinking in educational circles (at our school, anyway) is "ability grouping." That would be the same grouping so frowned on because it made some kids feel bad, some feel superior, and some feel average. I do not know what makes it new and different this time around.

I won't worry about it too much because no matter what kind of teaching methods prevail, some kids will learn well and some will fail. Are they the same kids in every method? I don't know. I have a hunch that the kids who are currently failing are those with behavior problems. Sorry, no statistics.

al said...

I think much of the problem with the education system is that too many parents do not care about their kids' education

One of my kids is 'gifted', the other has Aspergers and needs some additional service. (Not so much anymore as she has worked hard to be in regular classes whenever possible.)

The difference is parental involvement in the the two areas is amazing. Parents of 'gifted' kids are (almost) too involved whereas, in my experience, parents of special ed kids don't seem to care.

Discipline is a huge problem in classrooms. I'm not sure how to fix that. Certainly restraining them in school longer won't help.

PatCA said...

As the famous saying advises, "follow the money." Who is getting the extra millions invested in The Longest Day model of schooling-- teachers, administrators...who?

Our local school district just changed their schedule because so many Hispanics leave from Thanksgiving to January that the absence rate affected the reimbursement rate from the state, so they took action because they were losing money.

There's lots of money floating around--a tutoring service I know of was begging for tutors with all the money from their NCLB contract. So, although the NYT doesn't exactly say who actually gets the dough here, I would suspect that's the real concern.

chickenlittle said...

My kids attend an elementary school where 38% of the kids are learning English as a second language and 55% claim to be low income.
The class sizes are already small by California standards and the teachers and principal are dedicated to their jobs and go out of their way to help motivated kids (both my kids are outstanding by any objective standard).

I would say the two factors that hold kids back here is lack of English language skills and poor parental involvement/role models. The cure for the former is time and a slow down in the number of older kids coming into the system without language skills. I'm afraid the latter problem is likely to get much worse before it gets better.

Atticus said...

I think much of the problem with the education system is that too many parents do not care about their kids' education.
I asked our superintendent about the "commitment gap" that everyone know exists, and asked why he doesn't talk about it. He said he has never talked to a parent who isn't deeply concerned about their children. Made me laugh, because which parents does he think the superintendent is going to hear from?

Dewave said...

Our entire educational system is broken, and throwing more money at failing schools and having kids locked indoors for longer are hardly good solutions.

Our parents received much better elmentary school education, and they had tiny fractions of the amount of homework and school orchestrated activities that we do now.

It needs redesigning from the ground up. It wouldn't hurt to have decent alternatives to the failed public school system. Monopolies are rarely good for the consumer.

Annie said...

When I learned that they had eliminated both recess and "physical education," it is not too strong to say that I was horrified. Crucial for boys, and not much short of that for girls. Insane.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

I once questioned one of my son's teachers about a policy I felt was flawed. After several minutes of speaking while saying nothing i again asked my inital question. She again started in with jargon/doublespeak. I again asked for an explanation. This time I was told I wouldn't understand, because I wasn't as highly educated as she was.

This caused a severe pain in my ankle; My wife kicked me (hard) when I laughed out loud.

What needs to happen with public education? It needs to be taken out of the hands of the 'professionals' and put back in the hands of the parents. To many 'professionals' are enamored with new theory- unproven theory- and not with what works.

I am all for experimentation, but why not wait until we are sure it works? Yes, this will take 10-12 years to make sure we have educated adults at the end of the process, but isn't that the better alternative?

sonicfrog said...

Steve said:

If we have learned anything in the last 30 years, its that "day care" does not equal "education". Hard to see this as anything but the former.

Hear Hear!

I have most of my masters work done in pedagogy (child education stuff) and have been sub'ing for half a year now. One of the biggest immediate problems in CA is not just class size, it's that many of the students just don't belong in the school. You see, thirty years ago, if a student miss behaved enough, he or she could face immediate suspension or expulsion. Today they are allowed to get away with so much more. Why??? Because some of the money the schools get is now tied to the number of students that attend class, with each warm body in the class = $3000 per year (est). So kids who have no interest in learning or cooperating are never ejected from the system because the school will lose money.

Here is an example of the end results. That was two weeks ago. There has been an investigation, but the perps have not been discovered and I don't think they ever will be. In the past, the school could have threatened to expel a few students to get to the guilty party. Today, there is no chance of that and the kids know it.

Will write more on the topic. Have to work now.

Dewave said...

What needs to happen with public education? It needs to be taken out of the hands of the 'professionals' and put back in the hands of the parents.

Hear, hear. It's no coincidence that the quality of education our children receive has plummeted as parental involvement in children's lives has plummeted.

Children learn best from their parents, and they do better with a high level of parental involvement. (NOT constant 'supervision')

Parents will, by and large, both know what is best for their child, and want what is best for their child. Children have different interests, strengths, and abilities. They learn at different paces and in different ways. The idea that the best educational method is to throw 40 kids in a box all day and have some stranger talk at them all the same way is sheer lunacy.

Beth said...

Fatmouse, you kick 'em, I'll trip 'em, and then we can both pile on.

Year 'round school??? The 12-year-old in me is never far from the surface and she's hyperventilating at the thought.

And am I really so old that I can remember school actually working around the harvest? I was in high school for a year in Kansas, during the late 1970s, and there were breaks in the schedule for kids to help with the planting and harvesting. Those who weren't in farm families could pick up some money as hired hands. Has that completely gone away?

Galvanized said...

In our area, extended school time (an hour, at most) is available on an individual basis, alternating days for students/parents who choose to participate for clubs or tutorials in preparation for those children at risk for marginal standardized scores (pulled from benchmark scores). But to extend the length of the schoolday for everyone would be fruitless. Public school is not a childcare center, nor is it meant to be the place where homework is completed. In the end, it's up to a parent to demonstrate how important his child's education is. It is the responsibility of a parent to be involved in his child's education. And in cases where a child's parents are unable/unwilling, and he is at risk or having difficulty, the school can step up efforts there, but not in general. It's just tax dollars being spent for nothing.

Teachers and students alike are disheartened in public schools now because the majority of school hours are spent 1) disciplining misbehavior or 2) preparing students specifically for standardized tests. (Ask any A-achieving teenager what it's like to be in a classroom.) So the better solution is to take care of one of those problems by simply supporting teachers if you're a parent and support order and discipline in the schools. It's out of hand...everywhere. That alone, according to many kids, would facilitate learning and free up precious time in the classroom. Constant battle for power in the classroom and bringing down the administration gives the feeling that educators are fools and topple-able, and it's become a pasttime by kids and parents alike.

There should be a law passed for teachers/administrators/parents like No Child Left Behind for called No Teacher Stands Alone. Now that would be tax dollars well spent, and we would see results. But it would probably be self-defeating as courts would be tied up for years with freedom of speech and individual rights cases, and parents foolishly at their kids' sides (maybe hoping to get some money out of it).

Alas, there is no workable solution for public education UNTIL the U.S. comes to see education like the privilege it is (even though it is a right here). Public schools will end up with essentially only the at risk and disadvantaged youth because concerned parents are pulling out their kids in droves nowadays for private school and homeschooling. Thus, true education is becoming an elitist construct in America while public schooling is sadly becoming an institution of fall-through-the-cracks kids and marginal performance. Politicians need to pass some laws supporting rules and order, and litigious practices with regard to education need to be curbed.

Kirk Parker said...

RogerA,

Imagination is all you're going to get--no study has show that moderate differences in class size has any noticable effect. You've have to go down to class sizes that (1) no one is proposing, (2) no one can afford, and (3) are far, far smaller than the public shools in this country have ever had to get some benefit from mere size reductions.

Balfegor,

Sorry, but I'd say that the Korean system is on the opposite extreme. (This is based on hosting some Korean exchange students for several years, and what we heard from them and their parents.) How about if we just meet it half-way?

Galvanized said...

Sorry for the length of the comment. I think the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" controversy sent me over the edge last week on the challenges of public education. (clearing throat, straightening hair)

chickenlittle said...

Galvanized said:

"Politicians need to pass some laws supporting rules and order, and litigious practices with regard to education need to be curbed."

You mean like suing to wear a T-shirt the says "Be Happy Not Gay" or to proclaim "Bong Hits 4 Jesus"?

In my town the high schools are in much, much worse shape than the elementary and middle school. I sincerely hope that high school can be be radically transformed in the next generation. It somehow needs a massive injection of responsibility.

RogerA said...

Kirk--agree wholeheartedly that the class sizes I would prefer having (Not more than 15) are simply not possible given cost and facility requirements alone. Still, one could wish!

Jennifer said...

I'm not understanding the second linked article. Are they considering preschool day care? Or are they talking about preschool aged children who are in day care instead of preschool?

Fritz said...

They wrote "much of the regular day must concentrate on test preparation."

What in the world are they teaching? I get it, I have two dads, An Inconvenient Truth, Jefferson owned slaves, America is evil, learning to place condoms on cucumbers aren't part of the NCLB standardized test.

blake said...

You know, I have yet to read an article, or see a news story, or watch a movie that made me think, "Gee, too bad my kids are home-schooled."

Karen said...

I taught at 4 different high schools in various parts of Texas and so got to see the situation from several vantage points. The best school I taught in had a principal and parents who supported the teachers 100%. It was in a small farming community.

Two of the others were urban and one was suburban. Parent involvement ranged from none to running interference for their kids against the school and the teacher. The principals in these schools echoed the parental involvement: in one school I never saw the principal. In another, I was micromanaged as if I were a child. And in the other, the administration was so fearful of parents that any and every decision could be overturned after a phone call. These places were not pleasant to work in--my feelings were constantly swinging from despair to anger to apathy and around again.

Returning the schools to local parental control sounds great--and would be if all parents were like those in the farming community. But what I saw as a teacher--and continue to see out and about in the community--are parents who have ceded control to their children.

Karen said...

Galvanized: I think you are, unfortunately, quite correct here:

Alas, there is no workable solution for public education UNTIL the U.S. comes to see education like the privilege it is (even though it is a right here). Public schools will end up with essentially only the at risk and disadvantaged youth because concerned parents are pulling out their kids in droves nowadays for private school and homeschooling. Thus, true education is becoming an elitist construct in America while public schooling is sadly becoming an institution of fall-through-the-cracks kids and marginal performance.

However I have 2 problems with:
Politicians need to pass some laws supporting rules and order, and litigious practices with regard to education need to be curbed.

First, I think politicians need to get OUT of education. And second, perhaps educational malpractice lawsuits would clear away some bunk and get some real transformations happening!

Fen said...

Public schools. Quagmire.

I've decided I'm not having children until I can afford to send them to private school.

The Drill SGT said...

In the article about the small but negative results from day care, I note that nothing was said about the Holy Grail of the education lobby, Headstart.

Is it day care?

Is it useful?

How does this study relate to Headstart?

I'm not taking sides in this, but am curious

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

First, I think politicians need to get OUT of education.

Until you get the money out of education, you will never get the politicians out.

I also agree you need the right parental involvement.

Our children's grade school announced they were forming a Site Based Decision Council, to aid in the running of the school, solely for parental involvement. I was estatic.

Then I found out this council could not: Advise on teachers; advise on text books; advise on curriculum or have any control of the budget.

They spent an entire YEAR deciding that the students would wear uniforms; a second year determining uniform suppliers, and a third year determining colors and styles that were acceptable. There were no other issues they dealt with; just one a year.

Year four the school was closed.

Roger said...

Drill Sgt: There is no "scientific" consensus on the results of head start--a few studies such as the Ypsilanti Michigan study are cited as proof head start makes a difference; but the results are decidedly mixed. There are also studies which suggesst that any benefit achieved by headstart pretty well is gone by the second grade.

For those that are not aware of it, the headstart program resides under the agegis of the US dept of health and human services, not the US Dept of Education.

chickenlittle said...

Fen:

That exacerbates the point galvanized made at 12:32. It's great for the individual but lousy for the community. Sort of the way health insurance is heading with its shrinking pool of participants.

Oligonicella said...

I agree with Edjamikated's attitude.

The first and foremost problem is the 'educators' attitude that somehow they are brighter than others. That is laughable and they have shown time and again that it is not the case.

I've even had one Phd attempt to use high-school psychology on me, a fifty year old taking a night course. Shocked the hell out of her when I pointed out just what she was doing.

Why the hell not go back to a system that worked well before? See above.

Pogo said...

Schools are not good places these days. Several of my friends have worked in public and private grade schools.

At present, I don't trust schools enough to wish to grant them more power and money than before. From zero tolerance policies that punish victims of bullying the same as they do bullies, to punishing teachers who want to remove disruptive students from their classrooms, to unfunded mandates from the state and federal governments, to litigious parents who have applied their 1960s activism to all aspects of the school day, the problems are so fast and tangled that I now fully agree with people who want to home school, where I used to think they were nuts.

The Drill SGT said...

I went back and read the article and my BS meter went off: Money also has proved a big obstacle. Murfreesboro, Tenn., experimented with a longer day, but abandoned the plan when the financing ran out, said An-Me Chung, a program officer at the C. S. Mott Foundation, which does education research. Typically, she said, lengthening the school day can add about 30 percent to a state’s per-pupil spending on education.

Let's see, say the school day is currently 6 hours: 0830-1500 with 1/2 for lunch.

Now there are fixed costs like plant, equipment, most ulitities, janitors (place doesnt get that much dirtier in 1 hour) and HQ's staff.

variable cost: teachers

now 1 hour is 15% of the school day, so holding fixed costs fixed, why isn't the marginal cost of one school hour something like 10-15% of costs rather than 30%?

PatCA said...

That's what I'm saying, Drill Sgt., follow the money. The article is quite vague on where the extra money goes.

Pogo said...

Drill SGT, using my handy dandy gummint decoder, one merely has to multiply all reasonable costs by two to arrive at the estimated cost for the state to do it, and then multiply that number by four to get the final expenditure.

The money goes to Administration, which needs all this time to calculate how this money is spent, and to apply for grants for further finding.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Serendipitously....This article from the Weekly Standard is from Cathy Seipp (who will be very missed) about public education.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/011/759jfylz.asp

Very timely and I think it sums up what is wrong with our educational system.

Galvanized said...

Tru, Fen -- public schools.quagmire. And, Karen, I totally agree with you on the importance of parental involvement. My sons' school is just like the farming community school you described, only we're suburban. There are little pockets of success out there. Once the kids get to high school, though, it's different. Teachers are cursed out by students, there are threats to students of violence (several kids' parents kept them home one day last week out of fear to go after messages were left around school), drug searches, metal detectors, and altercations between students.

Honestly, America has allowed it to happen. I realize more often that we have given our kids so much power and influence in society (commercialism, consumerism, music, movies, media, and the money to buy it all), plus so many kids are on their own for most waking hours as both parents often work, so kids naturally think they can make decisions at school and determine the rules and negotiate with the world around them rather than defer and follow rules as we did. So to be told "no" by a school official seems so foreign when so many are pretty well autonomous outside of school. They need to be reminded that, at school, deference and respect are essential to learning. In that vein, zero tolerance for things that are let to slide in school now: outside influences like cell phones and iPods -- for which the $15 return fee is a joke for the kid whose parents readily pay it -- cursing and lewdness, tattoos, piercings, gum-chewing, etc. They did it with zero drug tolerance policy, so why not everything else? It's not until things like this are brought under control again that classrooms will shape up. Maybe the tactics can be learned from the military that could return schools to places where preparation occurs for higher learning and not just being vocational training centers and a government-mandated hangout for our kids. This, because, honestly, our public school system HAS been highjacked by our culture. If someone could work out the logistics and find a way to lawfully enforce these requirements, America would be indebted to you for answering this SOS (save our schools).

dick said...

I am just amazed at how far out the schools have gotten. I graduated from high school in 1958 from a small town in central Ohio that was primarily a working class town with a lot of farms and a lot of factory workers. We did not have a lot of poverty nor did we have a lot of wealth. What we did have was a lot of teachers who were dedicated to teaching us and a lot of parents who made the time to check up on what was going on in schools. My dad worked from 10 PM until he finished but whenever there was a PTA meeting he was at that meeting with questions and demanding answers and so were almost all the parents of my classmates.

In 6 years of junior and senior high school you could count the number of fights on one hand. You could count the number of people who cut class per day on two hands and that was with around 1500 students in the combination junior/senior high school.

The year after I graduated the parents and the school board made arrangements with the local private college (which is rated in the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the country) to have the honors classes be allowed to attend college classes in exchange for allowing the kids of the college professors to attend my school rather than the school in the college town of 500 people. It was an initiative started by the parents who then involved the school board and the college in the arrangement.

We also had the students segregated into those who were college bound, those who were agriculturally bound and those who were vocationally bound. We had the basic classes of English, history, etc together but the further classes like shop or farming or advanced math were segregated. That worked rather well for all concerned.

Now I live in NYC and I would not allow a dog to attend the local public schools here. Was there really that big a disconnect between teaching as a profession with emphasis on subject matter and teaching in general as a profession over the years? My mother had been a school teacher before she married and she told me that one year she had to teach a class in farming to farmers. She said it was one of the best experiences of her life because she taught it as a joint project of the students and herself and they really taught each other. I look at the teachers I see here and I cannot imagine their even attempting any original thought in teaching. In the first place the parents would probably sue and in the second place the union stewards would probably have them up on charges. I had thought at one time I would like to teach. I did for a couple of years teach computer programming in college and loved it but you could not pay me enough to teach in public schools these days.

LoafingOaf said...

I agree that year-round schooling makes sense from an educational standpoint - countless studies have shown that most kids retain little of what they learned after a longer break

I don't know about these "countless studies." If we were realy having a debate about year-round schooling vs. long summer breaks, I'm sure we could all find studies. The reason schools are all confused about how to do things is because it's it's not clear what is best. But we know for a fact that zillions of kids have done just fine with long summer vacations.

I don't believe kids forget everything over summer break! Who cares if teachers have to review some stuff each fall. Summer vacation is very valuable for kids. Some of the best memories of my life. I mean, stuff I'll think of on my death bed. That's important!

Additonally, I can trace my love of reading fiction back to my school's summer reading program. It was optional, but everyone who read enough books off their lists got a dorky badge and a special field trip while their classmates were stuch back in school. I didn't much like when teachers would pick a novel, force it on me and quiz me on it. But I did like when I was able to pick what I felt like reading and read at my own pace over the long summer.

Galvanized said...

loafingoaf, I also remember the summer reading and the year I picked up my first novel Jane Eyre at 12. I was the only girl in my class that wanted to be a governess when I grew up. LOL! But, yes, the summer reading was a welcome respite from schoolwork. The rewards were escape from boredom and discovering a new book/author. :)

George said...

"We Protect Our Kids From Everything But Fear"

Newsweek essay....

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17770831/site/newsweek/

Balfegor said...

Re: Galvanized:

I was the only girl in my class that wanted to be a governess when I grew up.

Incidentally, what's the going rate for a governess these days? A governess/live-in tutor would seem to be a way to avoid having your children socialised into drug-addicted neo-savages in the school environment.

Galvanized said...

Balfegor, LOL I at least partially realized my goal (stay-at-home-mom/housewife). The monetary compensation is pretty stinky, but the perks are fantastic! I don't homeschool...yet...but I'm seriously considering it for my youngest. It would sidestep a lot of risks, wouldn't it?

Richard said...

a rationalized education system, I sometimes wonder what the result would be if the government money/student, instead of being paid on the basis of attendance, were paid on successful demonstration of a skill (reading, arithmatic, algebra, whatever), split between the parents and the school. Accellerated learning by those capable? Specialized schools to teach tohose with difficulty? They would really have to work, though. How to measure success? There's a rub.

Parker Smith said...

Interesting thread !

Here are some leading questions, for those reading this far - ones I've always wanted to have answered.

If the Department of Education were shut down today, how many schools would be unable to open tomorrow?

How many schools would be hurt? If any, what would this harm consist of?