Obama’s Plan For A Longer School Year

The government may be making plans to lengthen the six-hour day and 180-day school year.

President Barack Obama said he would like to lengthen the school day and lengthen the year to 200 days of school instead of 180 days to improve the academic success of students in America.

“We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home plowing the land at the end of each day,” said the president.   “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,” Obama said on EDU in Review, a news site for education issues.

In fact, American children spend the least amount time in the classroom when compared to other countries, according to the EDU in Review website.  Currently, the school year length in the United States is 180 days. Advocates are pushing toward a 200-day school year, which would align with Thailand, Scotland and the Netherlands, and leave us a close behind Israel, South Korea and Japan, who leads with a 243-day school year.

A list of days in school by selected countries

Penn Manor learning support teacher Kathy Kirk agrees that if we have one month of summer break it would be enough because we are no longer in the farm fields working to survive, our economy is different.

On the other hand, if we have (only) a month break, “kids won’t have enough time to complete summer community service hours, no time to work which results in no money and no car,” she said.

Kirk also said if we shorten the summer, there will be no time for summer opportunities that give kids great experiences that they can’t get during the school year.  She believes that if we shorten the summer break, school districts will probably give selected weeks off during school. For example, two weeks off in February or three weeks off in March.

“When shortening the summer break,  Obama must think of the kids and the parent’s custody in the summer. Some parents may go from 10 weeks to see their kids down to 4 weeks.  Some parents are going to have to go back to court and change everything around,” Kirk said.

Janice Bofinger, a high school teacher’s aide, said shortening the school summer and lengthening the days may help some parents who need child care or a nanny for their summer weeks or after school. This could save some families a lot of money that they would otherwise spend on childcare.

“When are teachers supposed to take their college classes? In most cases teachers take them in the summer and a result of shortening the summer, they will have no time to complete there classes teachers need a break too. No students want to go to class when a teacher is all stressed out,” said Bofinger.

Students believe that there is need for a good long summer because it prepares you for your next grade level and it gives you time for yourself.

“If anything, Obama should be shortening the school year and making us come in later,” said senior Patrick Miller.

“This isn’t the first time this was brought up,” said Eric Howe, assistant principal at Penn Manor. “The hardest thing to adapt to is that we are so used to this system we have now. By shortening the summer and lengthening the day you could still have the same amount of days off, it’s just spread out by selected weeks off.”

If Penn Manor would do this,  Howe does not believe that students would get stressed out about the(extra) days at school. The hardest thing that everyone will have to go through is parents trying to adjust to the new schedule.

“There are pros and cons to everything,” said Howe.  “I could adapt to changes if it’s changed, but I am used to what we have now.”

By Tyler Funk