This is a dreaded subject for students over Christmas break I’m sure, but Governor Branstad is considering a longer day for students as one of his options to help improve Iowa’s public education.  The Des Moines Register reported last week that the Governor seeks to put together a task force to study this issue along with some other options:

  • Extending the school year by at least 10 days.
  • Lengthening school days.
  • Requiring struggling students to attend Saturday or summer classes.

Iowa Department of Education Director, Jason Glass, said that after receiving numerous requests at their town hall meetings they added it to their list of options.

Students in Iowa are already in school on average for 6.5 hours a day.  State law requires 5.5 hours.  Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of this.

Pros:

  • Kids would have more instructional time, and…
  • Working parents would have babysitting for younger students at taxpayer expense.
  • With more instructional time there should be less need to assign homework, especially for younger students, right?

Cons:

  • Does anyone really believe you are going to keep the attention of an early elementary student longer than 6.5 hours?
  • This would increase school budgets, and is that something taxpayers can really afford.
  • Regarding more instructional time, how much time in the classroom is really just spent on busy work?  From my personal interaction with public schools and from experience – a lot.
  • I know one of the arguments in favor is that often times parents are still at work when their kids are released from school, but what about those who aren’t?
  • What about students in rural school districts who already spend an insane amount of time on the school bus do we really want to lengthen their day.
  • Considering how much older students on average are involved in extracurricular activities do we really want to take more time away from families (not to mention the ungodly amount of homework they often have to do).

Why don’t we find what we’re doing in school that is a waste of time and eliminate that first before we consider lengthening the school day?  Just to go out on a limb, but I would venture a guess that the parents who are suggesting this are ones whose schedule would benefit.

Also can we consider that our kids can benefit from other types of activities that take place away from school that a longer school day will negatively impact?  (Church, Boy Scouts, and just spending time with families come to mind) I think public school teachers already have too much influence; let them find a way to be more efficient with the time they already get.

What do you think some of the pros and cons may be?  I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section.

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