Longer school hours, years could benefit U.S. students

Kaylee Micu/Staff Writer

The bell rings and everyone scrambles to the door ready to taste the warm air of summer vacation.

But if President Barack Obama gets his way, many children may not be able to taste as much of that air anymore.

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Obama spoke about a new plan for longer school hours and longer school years. Obama not only wants school hours to be longer, but he also wants schools to be open on weekends so that kids have a safe place to go.

I understand Obama’s logic because I was able to live in another country and see what their schools were like. Though France may have five more school days than we do, in my opinion their education programs are not as advanced as the United States is nor are the special education programs nearly as efficient as the America’s program.

The French high school that I went to had a bit of a different set up than we do. We would go to school for four weeks and then get a two-week break. This was great because during the two-week break, we were able to go over what we learned and have fun at the same time.

By adding more days to the school year, it may be more trouble than it’s worth. For instance, with shorter summers, tourist attractions and hotels would lose money while the school system costs would go up. Some teens that work during the school year may not be able to work because of lost time.

However, there are benefits to Obama’s plan. With longer school days and less summer vacation, test scores and academic achievement could go up, which would level the playing field between the United States and other countries. Japan currently ranks at the top with an average of 245 school days a year, while the United States only has 180 school days a year.

“The world is changing, and we need to change as well. Life is good in Cedar Falls. We need to be wise enough to know that we may have to adjust to continue our success as a school and community,” Principal Dr. Richard Powers said.

As predicted by many people, students think that longer school days is just a bad idea.

“People would be so tired they wouldn’t be able to focus by the end of the day,” sophomore Taylor Richard said.

Though this idea will most likely be unpopular, it may be necessary if the United States wants to continue to be a strong country.

The reason why the United States only has an average of 180 school days is because the school calender is based on when children helped their parents farm. With new technology, farmers no longer need their children for six to eight weeks. According to eduinreview.com, Obama stated that, “That calendar may have once made sense, but today, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage. Our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea. That is no way to prepare them for a 21st century economy.”

“I would not mind a calendar that might be arranged differently. Seriously, we need to have more options available for students. Flexibility with the calendar and school hours would be a natural thing to consider,” Powers said. I do think that the school year should be a bit longer because we don’t farm like we used to. We have big tractors and plows to do the work that kids used to do.

Advocates are pushing for a 200-day school year so as to level the playing field with other countries. “One-third of the 13- and 14-year-olds in our country cannot read at an appropriate level for their age, and … the eighth grade curriculum is two years behind competing nations,” according to eduinview.com.

Adding another 20 days to the school day is not that bad. Business wouldn’t suffer too badly due to the lack of teens. Families would still be able to go on vacation, and with the extra 20 days in school, parents and guardians have more time to plan for summer fun!

Class of 2014

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