A longer school day and school on Saturday??? Anyone hear about this?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I was at my daughter's volleyball game last night when a friend told me that Obama is trying to push through a longer school day and a six day week plus only two weeks of summer vacation because we are behind Europe.

    I voted for Obama, but this blew my mind. I don't care about other countries. I think that's too much school! In my opinion, the dropout rate would soar, parents would end up in mental hospitals (as well as kids who are more challenged in schools) and it's just an all around horrible idea (if it's even true). I don't want my kids to have to live, eat and breathe school and never relax.

    Ugh. If this had been the law when I was younger, I would have dropped out, cut, tried to get thrown out etc. Whatever happened to family time? If this ever happened, I'd probably homeschool, and I don't want to have to do that.

    Is this even true?
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    We need year round school. I studied this issue when I was on the curriculum committee at a school I taught at. The benefits are enormous and the only drawback is getting people to change their mindsets (which is a huge barrier).

    Special Education kids have the greatest benefit!

    Kids attend school for 9 weeks and then are off for 3 weeks. Generally, the student body is divided into 4 teams. The teams are off-set so that 3 are in session and 1 is off at all times so it also eases over crowding.

    Benefits of YRS
    *no more "summer loss" of knowledge (currently, the first 6-8 weeks of the school year are spent reviewing the previous year's material)

    *no need for funding for summer school (although some districts offer 'intersession' classes for a fee)

    *in towns that have gone to YRS, the day care centers and park districts adjust (it actually creates more full time employment as day care centers will have 1/4 of their summer load throughout the year instead of having all kids in the summer with the need for temp staff, allowing better training, etc.)

    *it allows families to take advantage of 'off season' rates and crowds for vacations

    *slight increase in number of days per year of school (from 180 to 190-195)
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I know several families who are in schools that are year round. They all love it, including the kids. The kids don't go months in summer with-o seeing friends, the kids have a better attitude toward school because it is not as big a deal to get back into the school routine each year. The families love it because they ahve a LOT less daycare to pay for, among other things.

    I think it is an awesome idea.
  4. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I know some people in So. Cal whose kids have this and they all LOVE it.
    Before Obama was elected this was discussed.

    I also have a few friends who live in Europe and everyone of them loves the School schedules for their children.
    I think kids would get used to it.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Is there school on Saturday?

    The way it was described to me, the school day would be longer (I'm against this) and on Saturday (very against this) and there is only two weeks vacation. He didn't tell me there'd be a lot of breaks.

    I don't care if they do year around school as long as the kids can still do extracirricular activities and have the weekends off.

    My Aspie son always went to year round school. I'm not convinced that all kids need this.

    As a parent, I value the time with my kids, but it won't affect me much either way as my kids are already 13 and 16 if they pass this.
  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I don't like the "adding several hours to the school day" part of it. My child is in school 7 hours a day. Adding several hours, would put it at a minimum of 10. She has lunch at 10:30am. Are they going to add an extra meal?

    And after a 10 hour day, there is no way they should have homework.

    MWM - The Obama plan calls for keeping schools open on the weekends as a "safe haven" for children, but it didn't read that it was mandatory for children to attend.
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I wouldn't get too worked up about it yet. The bottom line in all of this is that it takes teachers and teachers must get paid and the nation's teacher's unions are powerful. The federal govt sure doesn't have the money, the states don't have it, and the most local districts don't have it.
  8. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Personally, I'm for it. I don't like the way the calendar is set up now... students can't get into a groove. I'd like to see more predictability built in.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    They'd have to have breaks several times a year. And I think extracirricular activities are great for kids. When would there be time for that?

    I'm ok with schools open weekends for high risk kids who have nobody watching them, but not mandatory attendance. I don't care if we're behind Europe or not. This just isn't something I can get behind. They can have certain charter schools with that set up and make it optional and I'd be fine with it.

    Parents who have to deal with childcare may find it harder to find caregiveres for 2-3 week periods of time.

    The teachers would be getting more money if they worked more hours.
  10. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    easy child's school has 2 meal breaks and the students are enjoying the newly designed day. If easy child went an hour earlier and stayed an extra hour or so than normal? It would change activities, like hockey practices etc. Yet if the extra time cut down/out the homework without teachers to help? It would make up for it.
    I wish someone here in Canada would decide to run with the idea of year round school, with mini breaks (such as March break/spring break) throughout the year. I hate those weeks of getting back to routine, the months of catching back up because they forget so much through the school break. I hate that the kids don't see each other much of the summer.
    It would for sure be hard for my kids to adapt to a new schedule. difficult child loathes school. He attends without complaint now that he has decided it is a means to an end. But hates school. He'd pitch a fit! Yet once he adapted, I personally think for my difficult child it woudl help him to not break the routine he settles into once he adapts to a schedule every new school year. Its the worst for me watching him waste away all summer then struggle to get back into things in the fall. Hed do much better maintaining the routine.

    I can see both sides though. Some will love this idea. Some will not be happy about it.
  11. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    I think the key words here are "push through." The fact is that this was a suggestion, although not a new one. These ideas have been around for quite a few years. Some individual school districts have implemented some of these ideas with varying degrees of success.
    My step-granddaughter (3rd grade) has the option of a regular calendar or year round school and she chose the year round option and loves it. In fact, it does not include many more days than the regular option; they get extended breaks 4 times a year. As a teacher I can certainly see the advantage of this as kids do forget a lot over the long summer break and usually you spend the first month and a half reviewing material from the previous year.
    As far as a longer day goes, I'm not so sure. Especially for the younger students, but even for the older ones, they are pretty well fried by the end of the day. Of course, around here a lot of kids get on the school bus before 7 (even little kids) in order to get where they're going by the time school starts around 8 and some of them don't make it off the bus till after 5. Schools around here regularly schedule athletic practices before school at 6 A.M. and others last till past 7 P.M. Our kids are involved in a lot more sports and other such activities than kids in other countries. There are only 24 hours in a day and you can't expand on that so something would have to give.
    I think the Saturday thing was a suggestion for kids who need extra help or for those who have no place to go and nobody to watch them on Saturdays. I'm not sure that is the schools' job but we have a habit in this country of adding to the schools' responsibility anything that parents won't/can't/don't do. That's one reason there is so little time left to teach.
    As far as our being so behind other countries it has been proven time and time again that that is a false argument. When you're talking about SAT/ACT testing and the like, we test about 90% of our kids as ALL kids are supposed to meet the same standards. In other countries, differentiation starts early and only the top 20-30% of their kids even take those tests. So we are comparing apples and oranges. As far as I'm concerned, we are cheating the gifted kids by not providing an appropriate education for them; we are cheating the below-average kids by insisting they complete an education that is totally inappropriate for them; we are cheating the average kids because we spend so much time coping with the other two ends that nobody is getting what they need.
    Oops - I'm finding myself on my soapbox again; I will get off and let the rest of you have a say.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  12. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I would agree with the year-round school and think it's a good idea. How silly for us all to still be on a schedule that was set up for when everyone lived on farms and the kids were needed at home during the summer months!

    I don't think a longer school day would work everywhere though, especially in the rural areas. As it is, we already have kids who have a 45 min. to an hour ride each way on a school bus, and some are out waiting for the bus before the sun is up! I can't imagine how it would be if the school day were any longer! In the winter it would already be dark before some of these kids were getting home from school!
  13. weenie1

    weenie1 crazy mom

    I like the idea of year round school. But to be honest if our kids are forgetting things during the summer what good does it really do. I don't remember hardly anything that i was taught. It might be cause I am getting old. More than likely there not going to remember the majoriety of what they learned in school once they graduate.

    But to have them start an hour early and stay an hour late is crazy. My kids already have to get up at 5:30 to catch the bus at 6:30. That would mean they would be getting up at 4:30. So they would be going to bed at 7pm if they stayed til 4 they would not get home till 5 so we would only get 2 hours with them. Don't work for me.
  14. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The year-round schools here in metro Atlanta are few and far between but the ones that exist have the same number of school days but they are structured differently. They have 9 weeks on/3 weeks off and 6 weeks off for summer. While it sounds good to me to have frequent breaks, the research on the schools that have tried this do not show any increase in academic achievement.

    As far as a longer school year (even a modest 10 day a year increase) would be very costly for the states when you factor in the increased teacher salaries (and no, I would not work 10 extra days for free), increased bus driver salaries, increased cafeteria and custodial staff salaries, and the increased cost of gasoline and utilities for the school buildings. You would be talking millions of dollars.

    Here in Georgia, all school workers have been furloughed 3 days so far this year because of a shortage of funds in the state budget. They are talking more furlough days after the 1st of the year. I just can't see longer school days or a longer school year happening in the foreseeable future.

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  15. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    If that's really true, then why should they go to school at all? I agree that a lot of what we learned in school is outdated or useless. I've always loved the old song that says, "When I think of all the crap I learned in high school, it's a wonder I can think at all." The problem is, the powers that be and the makers of tests find it much easier to test for useless facts than to test for understanding and though processes.
    When I wrote that we spend a lot of the first part of the year reviewing, I admit that I was thinking mostly of elementary kids and I was referring to how to read and how to write effectively and how to do basic math and a few things like that. These are skills that those kids will use for the rest of their lives. If they didn't spend all of that time reviewing, they would have more time to hone those basic skills that they will be using for the rest of their lives.
    As far as the other subjects go, that is an old debate. Most of us do not use calculus or trigonometry math in our daily lives but I like to think that the thought processes have carried over. Since I have graduated, nobody has asked me to quote Shakespeare or Thoreau, but I think that I am a better individual because I studied them. I have not been asked to diagram a sentence since I left 8th grade, but the fact that I learned it then makes me better able to express myself now in coherent sentences (maybe you disagree with me after reading that last one - LOL). For years, educators have been saying that we need to be teaching our kids HOW to think and HOW to find information and HOW to process that information, but too many people say, "That's not what or how I was taught and what was good enough for me is what my kids need." Does memorizing the major exports of Peru do you any good as an adult? I don't think so but it is easier to test for than trying to find out if kids understand how the imports and exports of South American countries affects our economy here so we dumb it down and test for the easier stuff.
    What is really needed is not more hours in school, but more effective use of the hours we do have. I live in a culture in my state where the most important thing the school does, in most people's eyes, is provide winning football, basketball, and volleyball teams, and how dare any teacher assign homework on a game night. Until we get our priorities straight, we are going to have trouble in our schools.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Mutt, I enjoyed your perspective as a teacher. I do know that other countries have something like a fast track program for fast learners to be college bound and almost doom some kids to tech school or less if they aren't as smart so YOU ARE RIGHT. We're not behind as much as our kids who aren't brilliant have more choices.

    Thank you for your perspective. Well, I'm not interested in my kid having short breaks or going to school for a longer day or all year. I think it's sort of a popular idea to help parents who both work and don't want to pay for child care, and that's ok. But that's not our situation and I wouldn't want it to be mandatory. Certainly it would work better for some kids. So make it a choice. I have it all figured out. :tongue:
  17. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    This sounds to me like an exercise in kite-flying.

    I have often wondered why in the US you have such long summer breaks. The "kids needed home to help with the harvest" thing makes sense, but I do agree, it's time to change if that was the only reason.

    Kathy makes good points - especially in these economic times, why would there be a proposal that would cost so much more? What seems to me to be a target, is to bring the US more in line with the rest of the world. Not only in terms of academic output, but in terms of how the school year is spread out.

    Kids don't learn well if they're at school for too long without a brak. They need SOME break. Similarly, if the break is too long then a lot of stuff needs to be revised.

    I would like to compare how it's done here in Australia, to how you do it in the US. Maybe it could set some minds at ease?

    Our school year runs from January to December. Of course, our summer holidays coincide nicely with this. I do agree, having a long vacation over Christmas is fairly pointless if in your neck of the woods, it's cold, dark and there's little to do outdoors at this time. Much more sensible to put such time to good use academically!

    Similarly, you wouldn't want long school sessions through the summer when kids are longing to be outdoors going for a swim. You need a balance.

    I just got my 2010 diary in the mail yesterday. It has our NSW, Australia school terms on it.

    We have four school terms through the year which split the year into two semesters (in line with univerisities).
    Our school year begins with Term 1 on 27 January (Wednesday). Tuesday 26 January is Australia Day (sort of like your July 4). 27 Jan will be a teachers only day, I suspect some kids won't be back at school until the Friday. A gentle introduction to the school year.
    Term 1 finishes on 1 April. This fluctuates because of Easter (a moveable feast in Christian calendars). As a result, our first two terms vary in length each year. 2 April is Good Friday in 2010 (non-orthodox). In Australia Good Friday and the following Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are public holidays. So school always used to lose those days anyway, when we had the old three term system. So now they shove them into the school hoidays and it smooths out the teaching year.
    [An aside - we had friends from the US stay with us over Easter in 2008, they tried to wander around Sydney city on Good Friday and were amazed - we shut up businesses all over, on Good Friday. Australia IS a Christian country, it is just fairly quiet about it and gets on with the job. Businesses don't all close, it's very much a matter of choice. Easter is more important spiritually here than Christmas, although Christmas is HUGE commercially].

    Term 2 begins on 19 April and goes to 2 July. That gives a three week break (including Easter) between Terms 1 and 2.

    Term 3 begins 19 July and goes to 24 September. Again, a three week break between Terms 2 and 3.

    Term 4 begins 11 October and goes to 17 December. So that's only a little over 2 weeks (two weeks plus the weekend in between).

    Along the year we have various public holidays, although the last two terms are low in public holidays. However, Term 4 is also when we have our major exams - the School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate. The HSC pretty much begins in early Term 4. difficult child 3 is doing the SC this year, he will probably begin his exams halfway through Term 4, once the HSC is finished with, in the older groups.

    So we finish the school year right before Christmas. 17 December is a fairly early finish this year, some years school doesn't finish until 21 December.

    So between Terms 1 & 2, and between Terms 2 & 3, the kids get a three week break. Between Terms 3 & 4 it's 2 weeks. Over summer, the kids will get 5 to 6 weeks holiday (depending on when the Christmas break begins).

    So we probably have similar school term lengths to you, but our holidays break up the school year a bit more so the kids can stay fresher for longer.

    Our school day - Primary school (from K to Grade 6) begins at 9 am and goes to 3 pm. Some school vary this by half an hour this way or that but it's still the same length.

    High school hours begin about 8.45 am and go to 3.20 or 3.30. The length of the breaks during the day vary this a bit from school to school. Some schools allow an hour for lunch, some pull it back to 45 minutes.

    When I was a kid, we had 8 x 40 minute lessons over the high school day. There were two breaks - recess in the morning, then lunch. We had sport (compulsory) one afternoon a week as well as a phys ed class or two through the week for the younger grades. In senior high school when studying for advanced lessons we often ahd to give up part of our sport time plus come in early, for extra lessons.

    NEVER would any politician get students or schools to schedule classes for a Saturday morning. But some private schools may do it.

    Other problems I can see with Saturdya morning classes - although both the US and Australia are primarily Christian countries, multiculturalism is bringing in a wider range of people from other cultural, social and religious groups, a number of whom have Holy Days on Saturday.

    We NEED our weekends. Kids who choose to get part-time work, need their weekends to earn money. They need their down-time. So do teachers. Teachers do a lot more than just face-to-face teaching time. If we increase face-to-face teaching, when will they prepare lessons? Mark papers? Write Learning Plans? Meet with parents?

    I do think the US would benefit form a more balanced school year, more resemblnig ours. Perhaps a British or European model would work better? Northern Hemisphere is more likely to be in keeping with an efficient system with a December winter.

    In NSW we changed our school term system about 10 years ago or more, to bring it more into line with our univeristy timetables. These uni timetables have also been developed with the rest of the world in mind. We want to encourge Northern Hemishpere academics to come here for conferences etc as well as come here to work and study. We need to be comparable and compatible.

    Similarly, the US would benefit if its schooling system was in line with US univeristies and all of it was also in line with British and European standards.

    I say this, not currently knowing what those standards are. All I know is, in this rapidly shrinking world we really need cross-compatibility.

    An Aussie-born scientist just won a Nobel Prize for Medicien. She has been living and working in the US for the last 30 years, but we claim her as an Aussie, as I am sure you are claiming this as a US achievement. The thing is - it is possible for us to do both, simply because we DO have educational systems in the world that allow people to transfer from one area to anoter.

    The easier we make it, the better for us all.

  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Marg, there is no university calandar. They are all different. The University of WIsconsin is probably way different than Western ILlinois University and the private universities are all on their own schedules. All states are on different schedules and, within the states, each college also has it's own schedules. Also, many kids go to two years colleges, on their own schedules. So there is no university schedule per se. And the university schedule has little to do with the rest of the schools anyway...do they? I don't see a connection. Nor do I see any reason for every country to be on the same schedule...anyhoooooo...

    We only have a week off near Christmas. Most kids are wildly excited and hard to teach during that time. And those of us used to going out in cold weather do plenty of stuff during the cold days of winter so we're not housebound at all :tongue:. I can understand how somebody from a warm place would think so..lol..but we go out and about as always. My kids don't like to hang around outside in summer either...too hot!!!

    I think two or three week breaks are too short (just my opinion). And I like to leave summer open for various summer family trips and camps and other extracurricular activities. I really think extracirrcular activities are important!

    Our kids go to school (with catching the bus and all) from before 7am and son gets home at 3pm. Daughter has volleyball practice after school and we pick her up around 5pm, but school is out for both at 2:30pm. Both have study halls and get their homework done there.

    I'm all for allowing people to choose year round school. I think it's great to have various choices. But I don't see any reason for ALL kids to do the same thing. Americans tend to be strong individuals who don't like to be all boxed as one, which is why our healthcare system is so conflicted. We like having choices.

    Our country does not completely close down on any holiday except for Christmas. We have a lot of Christians, but we have everything, including atheists and new agers like me. I was brought up Jewish. :tongue:
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  19. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    If they ever went to year round schooling (and I'm not sure it's a bad thing) they would have to air condition all the schools-I can't see that being affordable.

    I would definitely be against longer school days. These are kids we are talking about. I don't see them being able to sit and focus for such long periods.
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't think it will pass. And for my family it is best not to pass. Again, I am fine with choices, but not mandatory year round school.