Lengthening: The Way to Go



            The debate has gone on long enough. The standard of the education system has greatly varied across the United States. In an effort to try and standardize the consistency of school across the country, several states have made changes to their requirements. These requirements involve the length of each school day as well as the year.

            The amount of time spent on certain subjects is decreasing, if the subject is not eliminated all together. We must look into some studies that point out the clear answer. To better the education system we must declare a standard for education requirement across the country. Rather than cutting out recess and recreational activities educational standards must lengthen the school year and school day.

            Every city is making substantial efforts to improve the education system, but Chicago stands out from the rest. The “Windy City” wants to make sure that its children are prepared so they will not be “blown away.” The Chicago Public Schools have been the focus of the extra attention.  Several Chicago Public Schools have taken on the challenge to lengthen the school day by ninety minutes and the school year by an additional two weeks. Thirteen schools in Chicago have accepted the offer to change and have adopted the lengthier school days.

            While Chicago mayor Rob Emanuel is extremely “pro” lengthening school days (he spoke about changing school days throughout his campaign), not everyone involved is so convinced. Some Chicago teachers are demanding they be compensated for their efforts and longer work hours while others are willing to stay for no extra pay. Still other teachers do not deny that they would like to be compensated for their extra hours and efforts, and yet believe that the extended day will be effective enough that they would help and do it anyways (Chicago Tribune).

              One of the driving forces behind the need to make educational changes is the undeniable reality that the United States is falling behind many other countries. Countries including Japan and South Korea have a significantly longer school year than the United States. The US falls about forty to sixty days behind the average school length of several countries in Asia. As if the difference in the length of school year is eye-opening enough, the statistics just simply cannot go ignored any longer. Approximately 1/3 of the middle school aged students in the country do not read at the average level for the age.

The United States simply cannot afford for any child to be abandoned in the educational process. This can be credited to the establishment of groups supporting acts such as “No Child Left Behind.”

A school where this method worked is Matthew J. Kuss Middle School, which is located in Fall River, Massachusetts. With the help of the new principal, Nancy Mullen, the middle school has completely changed its reputation (More Schools Turn to Extended Days). Matthew J. Kuss extended the school days and rearranged the school day to create more time for reading and math by eliminating subject areas.

 Although this tactic has been very successful in improving test scores, improving classroom attendance, cutting down on tardiness, and improving the student-student relationship, as well as the student-teacher relationship, it is not the answer to the education crisis. Art, social studies, and music are areas that are fundamental to a child’s growth. Studies show that the arts help children. Arts do not only help students academically they help students socially and develop as a well-rounded person.

            Another opportunity for students to express themselves is through summer camps and activities that are available to most students. These particular extra-curricular activities are beneficial to parents and children that the presence of these is necessary. Every young child needs a break and summer is the perfect opportunity for a child to relax and let lose. Although lengthening the school year is very successful and effective, completely eliminating summer altogether is not an option.

           The true solution to this problem is not eliminating arts or summer vacation altogether. The true answer has been found by schools in the Columbia School District.  The way that school district is going about it is the correct and will undeniably prove to be the most effective in the future.  Read more to find out what they are doing.

            The United States needs to make a change about the current education issue and the time for change is now. Simply cutting out areas that certain school board groups or leaders feel are not necessary in not the appropriate way to solve the problem and resolve it. Recess and the arts are necessary for the development of children and will negatively affect people if they are cut out. The way to go about it is to unify the education process across the country and make sure that all areas are preparing children for the future of the world. The balance between cutting classes or shortening the time spent on specific areas each day and making the school day and school year longer is the best solution. Eliminating too much or adding too much will hurt the educational process.


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