Sunday, September 27, 2009

Obama Wants Longer School Day, Longer School Year

According to an al-AP report which I will not link to, President Obama, President Obama is on a "longer school day, longer school year" kick.

Why--seriously, why?--would someone supposedly versed in constitutional law think a President or the federal government has any business telling schools how long they have to be in session?

29 comments:

MiaZagora said...

"Why--seriously, why?--would someone supposedly versed in constitutional law think a President or the federal government has any business telling schools how long they have to be in session?"

The same reason they think they can force Americans to buy health insurance. I'm convinced that really isn't about Americans having health insurance or Americans living better lives. I'm also convinced that a longer school day/year isn't about the students.

What do I think they're up to? I'm not even going to venture a guess because I can think of all kinds of conspiracy-theory type reasons.

PeggyU said...

Maybe he needs to go back and spend more time in school ...?

sam011989 said...

why--seriously, why?--would someone supposedly versed in constitutional law think the federal government has any business telling business owners how long their employees can work, or that the government has any business setting an age limit to work in the first place?

dkzody said...

We already have long school days--7:50 to 3:30 with a half hour for lunch--and our kids don't come or they don't do the work. How is making it longer going to make it better?

Ronnie said...

I don't understand why some people seem to think that every suggestion Obama makes is going to be backed by a new, possibly constitutionally challenging law. Other people seem capable of logically concluding that most things he and other people say aren't hard policy but mere suggestions to those who are responsible for making changes in those areas. Obama won't dictate a school year of 200 days but he would like reformers to have some action that increases our student's performance. He's not telling anyone anything, after clarification he's not really suggesting any specific action at all, only the mere study of whether such actions would be beneficial. Non-story.

Darren said...

I hear Tammy Wynette singing, Ronnie.

Ronnie said...

I see Picasso painting, Darren. My whole point was how distorted people like you make issues like this. I actually disagree with this recommendation and think it's nothing even resembling a solution and if you want to argue the efficacy of increasing the amount of instruction I'm all ears, but attacking this as some sort of overreaching federal power play is getting close to tin-foil hat territory.

Darren said...

You don't *really* want to be going into tinfoil hat territory, do you Ronnie?

Scott McCall said...

why--seriously, why?-- would someone supposedly versed in constitutional law think a president or the federal government has any business calling kanye west a jackass?

Curmudgeon said...

Kanye West IS a jackass. I don't mind if the President is human and mentions it. He may have to contend with a bigger backlash, but that's his call.

As to why he would suggest the longer school day, I can only think that perhaps he thinks it's a good idea. Since it's up to the States to implement and fund it, his only role in this suggestion is the bully-pulpit. I don't mind him making the suggestion because then I can ridicule it. California can ignore it, my state can ignore it, we all can scream for ice cream. (Sorry, mixing metaphors.)

He obviously feels that his own experience with long days starting at 4:30am is instructive and feels that the option should be considered by reform-o-crats. It will be rejected or not on it's own merits.

Ellen K said...

I just blogged about this before reading yours. My concern is that our budget is based on property taxes. Lower property values means that taxes will have to be raised just to keep the status quo. If we extend the school day/week/year there must be more money to staff and provide resources for these programs. Where is that supposed to come from? Likewise, this is not a way to entice graduates into education. I would suggest that this is a stopgap measure to bring down the unemployment rates while simultaneously creating a program that offers "free" daycare under the guise of education. I don't know about you, but I am at school from 7:45 until 4:45 every school day. And that doesn't include weekends where I often work two to three hours just to keep up with grading, online lesson plans and keeping up my mandated website. At some point there is such a thing as too much. Frankly, I cannot imagine that elementary children would glean much between four and six when they are picked up. And every district I know already offers after school remedial programs for students in need. What purpose does this serve making ALL students spend more time in school? It's just window dressing for something else.

Mrs. C said...

He seems to be basing it all on international standards/ global marketplace and making minority students do better on tests and blah blah blah.

WHO CARES ABOUT ALL THAT???

Really, who cares about all that? Do you think Obama got where he is today by filling in the right circle with his number two pencil when he was in second grade, or because of international educational standards? Arg.

I mean, his blather makes me want to pitch all my curriculum and unschool just because we can for the present moment. We could just take to the forest and dig up bugs and collect lichen or something. Kids need to be free every now and then!

And we magically have more money to send these kids to school for longer hours during a recession? Or is this just government-funded childcare so Mama doesn't have to adjust her work schedule in June??

This guy is either nuts, or he's feeling around to see just how much power he has. I hope he is testing a lead balloon.

Ed D. said...

Well, let's see, longer school days
and longer school years will require more teachers who will pay more forced union dues. More union dues means more money dumped into Democrat campaigns. It's all clear to me.

maxutils said...

Longer school year -- fine, as long as it gets paid for. But longer day? no one can do more than 6 hours and hw.

Anonymous said...

It's called a bully pulpit. One of the advantages of being president is that people will listen when you say something. And if you have the opinion that a longer school year (isn't America's a very short year at the moment?) then you have the chance to say so. As far as I know, that is not unconstitutional... but I am sure you can point out the clause that it violates..

allen (in Michigan) said...

It's not entirely a "bully pulpit" issue in that the federal government's dealt it's way into education via the federally-baited fish hook. Theoretically, the states can ignore much federal arm-twisting if they forgo federal dollars.

Yeah, that'll happen.

More important though is keeping the education issue perking on the front burner.

That's something Bush managed to do with NCLB and something Obama seems to be doing with his defense of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program and some of the things he and Arne Duncan have been talking about that are cause for consternation among defenders of the educational status quo.

I didn't vote for the man and I don't share the perception that he's an intellectual heavyweight. But, he does seem to have both a greater awareness of the education issue and a surer idea where he wants to go with it then his predecessors.

Anonymous said...

What always amazes me is that this discussion never seems to include any reference to the fact that students at the most elite schools -- the ones that charge $50,000 for tuition and that send huge proportions of their graduates to the ivy league -- tend to spend *less* time in class than the kids who are busy not learning to read in lousy public schools. This would seem to strongly suggest that the number of hours spent sitting in class doesn't have all that much to do with it.

Choate Rosemary Hall, for instance, started its term on September 11; October 21, 26 and 27, November 24-December 1, and December 18-January 1 are holidays. In that period, there are three 'Academic Saturdays', with classes in the morning: this is 62.5 days.

The DC Public Schools, on the other hand, started its term on August 24; September 7, 18, and 25; October 12, 29 (1/2), and 30; November 11, 26, and 27; December 7 and 21-January 1 have no classes. This is 76.5 days.

After the new year, it's much the same story. Choate's spring break is March 4 (1/2)-22 (11.5 weekdays); DCPS' is March 26 (1/2)-April 5 (6.5 weekdays).

Choate finishes up academics on June 3; DCPS on June 18.

PeggyU said...

Is it possible that maybe there's some superfluous bullshit that could be cut out of a school day? That time could then be put to better use. I was thinking, specifically, of some of the assemblies my kids attended which provided nothing educational but did disrupt the school schedule. Also, there are all of those "learning improvement days" (at least one per month in our school district) where teachers must leave to attend workshops, and substitutes fill in. In most cases, a substitute doesn't move the class forward. Are these really necessary?

Anonymous said...

The lefties want to keep kids in school longer so they can practice even more indoctrination on those kids.

Pretty soon there will be a backlash against those lefty "educators" and it won't be pretty.

chicopanther

JoeH said...

As a practical matter, from a tax payers view point, adding 20 to 25% more class days, as would Obama and Duncan are thinking should be done, would be financially undoable. It would add $20-25 million to our districts $147 million dollar budget. If we added an additional hour per day, additional expenditures on the order of $16 million would be the tab. Our Board and Administration are currently looking in every nook and cranny for an extra dollar to support our current educational programs. Where pray tell does the President and his Secretary of Education think the money will come from? Who believes that home owners in the current financial climate are going to vote "yes" on a referendum for a major tax increase? Of course the Obama administration could just dial up the speed of the printing presses and spit out "more money". Yeah, that’ll solve the problem.

mazenko said...

The worst part is the perpetuation of myths about scheduling. Arne Duncan said, "Our school schedule is based on an agrarian model and I don't see many of our kids out working in the fields."

His glib humor is shadowed by the sheer ignorance of his statement. Summer school was never about our agrarian model. Thus, he perpetuates a myth to promote an agenda.

Additionally, while some countries have more school days, our contact hours are actually comparable. For many thousands of AP students, it's clear they could do with less time in school.

For more thoughts, check my latest posting.

Polski3 said...

Where, just where in our US Constitution and its wonderful amendments, does it say ANYTHING about Federal involvement in Education? It doesn't. What it says, to paraphrase the Tenth Amendment, is that powers, etc. NOT specifically granted to the Federal government by our Constitution are powers granted to the states.

Not only has the individual citizen in this nation lost some of our freedoms, but now we are seeing from the previous Bush government and the new Obama government, an increase in Federal dickering in public education. States are losing their powers. Just look at how many states are considering changing collective bargaining agreements just so they can collect a few educational pennies from Washington ?

Darren said...

Just the Bush Administration? This has been accelerating since Carter rewarded the NEA by making Education a cabinet level position.

MiaZagora said...

"something Obama seems to be doing with his defense of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program"

I thought Obama nixed the Opportunity Scholarship program?

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/04/obama_admin_stifles_favorable.html

Darren said...

He did. Well, he let the Congress do it, and didn't offer a defense.

Anonymous said...

The kids might have more time to learn if they didn't have to listen to bogus speeches in class from the President. There's 20 minutes of their life they'll never get back.

Meanwhile, where will they find teachers to put up with this?

maxutils said...

And of course -- why is the Federal government involved in education, at all? But I've given up on the 9th and 10th amendments long ago.

Anonymous said...

if you read all the way to the end of the mentioned article, you notice that in compares in-class hours of the united states, japan, hong kong and taiwan. us students spend at least 100 more hours at school per year that do any of these countries. the real difference lies in compulsory education vs. non-compulsory education. if the united states only educated those who wanted to be there (or who could pay to be there) we would our perform many of these other countries. the fact is, our test scores factor in students who are developmentally 10 years younger than their peers and kids who have no desire to do anything (especially fill in bubbles on a test). you want to talk education reform, let's be sure you are comparing apples to apples.

allen (in Michigan) said...

I don't have a link to offer but I read that the D.C. voucher program was going to be zeroed out by a couple of powerful, Senate Democrats - no more kids, no more bucks - starting this school year but Obama lobbied a grandfathering of all the kids currently enrolled. That is, they stay in the program through high school although no additions to the program would be allowed.

Maxutils, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments don't apply. DOE money is in the form of grants; states request, the DOE forks over. So theoretically the programs are voluntary although once you take the bait the hook comes along with it. Even with that entry the federal role in controlling and directing public education is pretty thoroughly circumscribed.

Obama may want more charters, and Congress can pass law inclining funding towards the establishment of charters but the power, at least theoretically, lies with the state. If the states forgo the federal funding then the federal government loses a good deal of its control over public education but like I wrote above about the likelihood of the states telling the DOE to get stuffed, yeah, that'll happen.