Schools are adding more and more days to their calendars:
In an effort to help underperforming students catch up on standardized tests and give them more opportunities for enrichment activities, 35 schools that enroll about 17,500 students will expand the school day and year in the 2013-14 academic year. Forty more schools that enroll about 20,000 students will also extend classroom and after-school time in the next three years.
Here’s what they’ll be doing with the extra 300 hours per year:
The time will be used for core academic instruction, extra tutoring for struggling students and cultural activities like art and music.
Is it just my cynical nature, or does anyone else think that this will morph into more test prep and other busywork just to keep kids off the streets?
Maybe these kids will be better off, but this strikes me as one more step in making schools the one-size-fits-all social intervention for poor neighborhoods. Schools are just as broken as all the other social institutions in those neighborhoods, but since they’re the only place we’ve decided is worth fixing, their role keeps expanding. Why shouldn’t kids just live in schools in lock-down dorms? Wouldn’t that be even better that expanding the school day?
Update: Had to be away for a while so couldn’t engage in the comments. To address some of the issues raised there: First, other countries do have longer school years, but high performing schools in the US have the same length of instruction as lower performing schools. Why do we think time in school makes the difference? Second, I do not believe for one second that any of this will lead to more music or art or any other expensive program. The additional time will be spent by either overextended teachers, or newly hired teachers’ assistants of questionable qualification, drilling kids on standardized test skills or just being glorified babysitters.. Finally, community mental health, early childhood programs, better social work, community clinics, better daycare, after school programs that aren’t school-based, etc. are some of the things that could be funded instead of pouring more money into schools. Focusing all this attention on the schools strikes me as myopic.