Many education reform advocates are pushing to lengthen the school day, not only as a way to increase teaching time and offer extra instruction and enrichment, but also to accommodate working parents. Charter programs like the KIPP schools have promoted the longer day, and it is being accepted by some urban public schools, notably in Chicago.
When and where does it make sense to institute a longer school day, and how should it be designed? While this change may benefit children from disadvantaged backgrounds, providing a social support system, would it help other American students if they had to spend more time in school, given what we know about how they learn?Read the Discussion »
Help for Parents and Society
Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children's Zone
Quality vs. Time in the Classroom
Vicki Abeles, "Race to Nowhere"
Naps, Recess and the Arts
Annie Murphy Paul, author
Let Teachers Teach
Vern Williams, math teacher
Let Students Sleep
Mary A. Carskadon, sleep researcher
Why Not Internships?
Kathleen Porter-Magee, former middle and high school teacher
Targeted Time and Programs
S. Paul Reville, Massachusetts Secretary of Education
For Us, More Time Is Critical
Richard Barth, KIPP Schools
Should the School Day
by A. S., Sharon, MA
One of the hottest topics in school is the proposal to lengthen the day. Besides the fact that students would detest the extra hours, the administration must really look at this plan before enacting it. To me, it seems logical to keep the day as it is.
With increased hours spent in schools, teachers would expect more pay for their work. Not only teachers, but also custodians, secretaries, and other support staff would demand increases. With the extended day comes more time that the heat, electricity, and water must be used. Where could the school systems come up with this money? By raising taxes! That is, of course, if other ways for funding schools couldn't be sought. Considering the economic trouble in our state, the money would be hard to come by.
Safety is also an issue. Come wintertime, students would be arriving and leaving school in the dark, which would make it difficult for parents, and require a better bus system, which would also cost more money. Come summertime, there would be a need for air-conditioning because of the heat that plagues classrooms.
The one change that would most disturb the students concerns after-school teams and activities. If some schools end at 2: 00, and others at 3: 00, it would be almost impossible to have interscholastic meets.
Many ways to make the existing school day more effective include increasing classroom time to a six-day cycle. An extra "lab" for each major subject could be added so students could attend a class seven times every six-day cycle. Also, more electives could be offered to vary what students take. Involve-ment of community members could also cut down on costs.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.