Is a shorter summer in store for students

By Rebecca Lane - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - School all year round!  While it is a reality to some, if Obama gets his way, it will be a reality to all.

"It just looks like it would be an easy decision," Dr. Kim Wilbanks says, "we could just add more time, but it's much more complicated."

That is an understatement.  By adding more time, whether longer hours in a day or more days in school, Dr. Wilbanks, Superintendent of Jonesboro Public Schools, says people would have to change their system of how they get through their day.  If longer days, she points out parents will have to re-think scheduling medical appointments, day-care, and summer plans.  She states how vital a longer summer break can be for both teachers and students.

"We're a society that we're cramming everything into everyday," she explains, "You have to build in some opportunity to rejuvenate."

Summer is also an essential break for teachers as some participate in workshops, conferences, or more schooling to further their profession.

Another issue Dr. Wilbanks addresses is the more time in school, the more money needed for teachers' compensation.  She says even if schools ethically feel that more time would be beneficial, they lack sufficient funds to pay teachers.

Teacher and mother of two, Staci Darr believes an all-year school term would work.  The all-year school term she believes in is based on the traditional school calendar-- not Obama's proposed school-year.  She feels the same amount of days should be kept, but making breaks shorter would benefit the students. This type of school-year is currently being utilized in other states. While she also worries about compensation, she feels that it would help students stay focused.  She says students would be in the habit of going to school and teachers would not have to re-teach what was taught the year before.  Longer days, she feels, would cut into quality time with family.

"Once you get them home, you have less time with them," she explains, "Then they have the homework on top of that. You try to feed them supper. You try to get them ready for bed, and so that's going to take away from the family."

Both women agree that no matter the change, it will have to be universal.

"This is not just an education and school-related issue," Dr. Wilbanks adds, "It's an issue of society and the way we want to educate our students and the way we as a community want to operate for students to be prepared to go out into the world."

The Associated Press states that while kids in other countries have more school days, they do not necessarily spend all that time in school. U.S. students spend more hours in school compared to Asian countries.

U.S. hours in school-1,146 instructional hours per year




Hong Kong-1,013

According to the New York Times, while Asia consistently beats the U.S. in math and science scores, even the low-performing states do better on math and science than students in countries like Norway and Italy.

For even more into this issue, listed are websites for further research.

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