Today’s Report – February 9th

  • Mary Beth Matthews: The 200 Day School Year. Gov. Strickland recently proposed extending the school year in Ohio. This particular part of his education plan has obviously hit a nerve with teachers. I’ve now heard from several teachers (and spouses of teachers) on Strickland’s plan and read a bunch of letters to the PD editors and they’ve all latched onto this specific item. It’s pretty clear that one of the main reasons people choose to be a school teacher is the schedule. Anyway, Mary Beth teaches at my son’s high school here in Cleveland. She reports some of the reactions that she’s heard in the teacher’s lounge. It’s interesting that the suburban teachers are saying things like (and I’m paraphrasing), “That longer school year might be appropriate for those urban kids who don’t have anything better to do in the summer, and probably need the extra help, but my suburban kids need to go to camp/vacation and really don’t need the extra time in class anyway.” And the urban teachers are saying (again a paraphrase), “That longer school year might work in the suburbs where the buildings are all air-conditioned and the kids actually get something out of school, but our buildings are all run-down and the kids will bake and they won’t be able to pay attention anyway.” From the outside, it feels to me like there’s an awful lot of self-justification going on. It’s OK to say that one of the reasons you’re in the game is because of the schedule.


One response to “Today’s Report – February 9th”

  1. I don’t have any argument with either of the points of view you paraphrased. It’s not self-serving for teachers to want their students to experience the variety of options provided by camps, to enjoy vacations with their families, to play outside, or to have unstructured time. My quibble is that they don’t seem to recognize how a longer school year might make it possible for kids to have all of those things while still benefiting from teachers’ instruction. The creative, committed teachers I know always have more and bigger ideas about how to engage their students than they can possibly shoehorn into the current academic year — especially when such a huge, HUGE chunk of the year is spent relearning that which was forgotten over the summer. I would gladly send my kids to year-round school and work for a year-round school if it meant that we got longer lunch and recess every day, more outdoor learning, more time for sports and arts in the curriculum, and longer blocks of time for academic subjects. Worth it — totally worth it!

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