By Wayne William Cipriano
Are they nuts?
One hundred sixty-eight school days now instead of the 171 we had? Do they think our students are too smart? Too well-versed in the multifaceted worlds of education? Worried their overly-educated heads will explode, inculcated with so much knowledge? Are they satisfied that the preparation for a career after high school that our students experience is sufficient such that no additional pedagogy can be of any real value? Are the students we send for post-graduate training, trade school, college, and so forth, so well-finished that any more class time would dull the razor edge of scholastic accom-plishment they have achieved?
Do they think that too-smart students would leave town after graduation, and it’s better for business if they stay put? Could it be that in their eyes public education is merely a governmental hobby, a way to distribute the overwhelming majority of local tax money among citizens employed by the school district and an avenue for State and Federal resources to be infused into our local economy? A part-time, semi-serious endeavor executed with no serious intent, little quality evaluation, quite a bit of mystery, and absolutely no responsibility for the utility of the final product.
No one really thinks that, do they? Because if they did, they’d be deeply, egregiously, darned near criminally wrong, wouldn’t they?
What we should be pushing for is more time in school not less. Year-round school beginning about 9:30 a.m. and continuing until 5:30 p.m. pretty much every single weekday with lots and lots of homework and a two or three-week vacation between grades.
We have physical plants, we have the administrators, the faculty, the staff, and hopefully, the transport-tation. We have everything we need for a significantly expanded school year. All we need is the initiative and the courage to move on up.
Yes, I remember how lethally boring public education was and probably remains, but that is no argument for reducing the time spent in school. That is an argument for increasing the effectiveness of our teaching.
Yes, I remember how long 12 years of formal education seemed when I was going through it, but now I look back 12 years (2004!!!) and it’s a flash.
Imagine getting so much more out of every school year. Imagine gradu-ating students so far ahead of their contemporaries in other school districts simply because we use the resources we have more efficiently. Imagine the ease with which our students would cruise through post-graduate education, the superiority of those students who go from high school to employment, merely because they have so much more time at each grade level.
And, yes, I checked, we can have as long a school year as we wish. Only the minimum of public school hours is legislated. What a surprise.
I understand how much resistance the idea of year-round school will encounter from almost every quarter; some resistance practical and well thought out, most simply self-serving and indicative of the lazy, almost pointless, humiliatingly simple, boring, marginally maturing exercise our legally mandated 12 years of public education has become.
I suspect there won’t be much of a groundswell of support for the idea of year-round school no matter how valuable the results of such an easily-accomplished simple evolution might prove to be –– almost certainly will prove to be.
But, not satisfied with a school day of so few hours and a school calendar rife with so many holidays, so much vacation, the potential of so many “inclement weather” days manipu-lated to avoid makeup days, or just counting one second after noon as a full school day, they now propose to reduce the school year even further. By more than half a week.
Are they nuts?