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More school: Obama would curtail summer vacation

WASHINGTON – Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.

Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.

"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," the president said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

"Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

Fifth-grader Nakany Camara is of two minds. She likes the four-week summer program at her school, Brookhaven Elementary School in Rockville, Md. Nakany enjoys seeing her friends there and thinks summer school helped boost her grades from two Cs to the honor roll.

But she doesn't want a longer school day. "I would walk straight out the door," she said.

Domonique Toombs felt the same way when she learned she would stay for an extra three hours each day in sixth grade at Boston's Clarence R. Edwards Middle School.

"I was like, `Wow, are you serious?'" she said. "That's three more hours I won't be able to chill with my friends after school."

Her school is part of a 3-year-old state initiative to add 300 hours of school time in nearly two dozen schools. Early results are positive. Even reluctant Domonique, who just started ninth grade, feels differently now. "I've learned a lot," she said.

Does Obama want every kid to do these things? School until dinnertime? Summer school? And what about the idea that kids today are overscheduled and need more time to play?

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Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school.

"Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here," Duncan told the AP. "I want to just level the playing field."

While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it's not true they all spend more time in school.

Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).

___

Regardless, there is a strong case for adding time to the school day.

Researcher Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution looked at math scores in countries that added math instruction time. Scores rose significantly, especially in countries that added minutes to the day, rather than days to the year.

"Ten minutes sounds trivial to a school day, but don't forget, these math periods in the U.S. average 45 minutes," Loveless said. "Percentage-wise, that's a pretty healthy increase."

In the U.S., there are many examples of gains when time is added to the school day.

Charter schools are known for having longer school days or weeks or years. For example, kids in the KIPP network of 82 charter schools across the country go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than three hours longer than the typical day. They go to school every other Saturday and for three weeks in the summer. KIPP eighth-grade classes exceed their school district averages on state tests.

In Massachusetts' expanded learning time initiative, early results indicate that kids in some schools do better on state tests than do kids at regular public schools. The extra time, which schools can add as hours or days, is for three things: core academics — kids struggling in English, for example, get an extra English class; more time for teachers; and enrichment time for kids.

Regular public schools are adding time, too, though it is optional and not usually part of the regular school day. Their calendar is pretty much set in stone. Most states set the minimum number of school days at 180 days, though a few require 175 to 179 days.

Several schools are going year-round by shortening summer vacation and lengthening other breaks.

Many schools are going beyond the traditional summer school model, in which schools give remedial help to kids who flunked or fell behind.

Summer is a crucial time for kids, especially poorer kids, because poverty is linked to problems that interfere with learning, such as hunger and less involvement by their parents.

That makes poor children almost totally dependent on their learning experience at school, said Karl Alexander, a sociology professor at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, home of the National Center for Summer Learning.

Disadvantaged kids, on the whole, make no progress in the summer, Alexander said. Some studies suggest they actually fall back. Wealthier kids have parents who read to them, have strong language skills and go to great lengths to give them learning opportunities such as computers, summer camp, vacations, music lessons, or playing on sports teams.

"If your parents are high school dropouts with low literacy levels and reading for pleasure is not hard-wired, it's hard to be a good role model for your children, even if you really want to be," Alexander said.

Extra time is not cheap. The Massachusetts program costs an extra $1,300 per student, or 12 percent to 15 percent more than regular per-student spending, said Jennifer Davis, a founder of the program. It received more than $17.5 million from the state Legislature last year.

The Montgomery County, Md., summer program, which includes Brookhaven, received $1.6 million in federal stimulus dollars to operate this year and next, but it runs for only 20 days.

Aside from improving academic performance, Education Secretary Duncan has a vision of schools as the heart of the community. Duncan, who was Chicago's schools chief, grew up studying alongside poor kids on the city's South Side as part of the tutoring program his mother still runs.

"Those hours from 3 o'clock to 7 o'clock are times of high anxiety for parents," Duncan said. "They want their children safe. Families are working one and two and three jobs now to make ends meet and to keep food on the table."


Added: Sep-27-2009 Occurred On: Sep-27-2009
By: Mudslinger
In:
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Tags: obama, education
Views: 7652 | Comments: 66 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 1 | Shared: 1 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • Obama is always pointing to the rest of the world to show how the U.S. should be.
    One of the reasons I love the U.S. is because it's not like the rest of the world. I wish he would leave my country alone.

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • I can't believe it...something I actually agree with Obama on...

    Posted Sep-27-2009 By 

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    • Don't be fooled. It's meaningless lip-service. Our socialized education system isn't terrible just because the kids are off for a month. It's terrible because it's run by inept politically motivated stooges who have no interest in education... The number one donor to campaign for gay-marriage in California? The teacher's union. That should tell you where their head is at.

      Sending the kids to go not-learn-anything for an extra month, doesn't solve a thing. You have to fix the problems. Year-roun More..

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • zing- the school system is a joke

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • LMAO, he wants MORE DROPOUTS! You think those bang bangers barely hanging on in school (like the recent vid where they beat a schoolmate to death) will stick around for 3 more months!?? BWAAAhahahahaha! More deadbeats, more mouths to feed, more CHANGE!

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • seems they are still going for quantity over quality.

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • There are some endeavors where that strategy produces better results.

      e.g. the pottery experiment:

      http://adventures-in-creative-writing.blogspot.com/2009/09/art-quantity-vs-quality.html

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • If this were to happen, I hope that he also makes changes to implement the performance based pay for teachers in this country... won't matter if the kids are in the classroom 24/7 if they have inept teachers that don't teach them anything.

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • How would you judge the performance? This is currently being done in some districts--with mixed results.

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • Performance based pay?

      *passes out hyperventilating from laughing*

      You're suggesting that merit is relevant and that people should work hard? You're just racist. Teachers who don't teach are people too. You're just full of hate.

      Give us vouchers, and merit based pay becomes a natural result. The parents have a choice and they get to decide where that check goes. They don't send it to the urban war-zone of pregnant stoned teens beating their teachers up. Money talks... Schools compete for tho More..

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • you clearly didn't pay attention when Obama talked about this during his campaign.

      Geez talk about throwing the word racist around... You think I'm racist because I'm for tossing out teachers who don't do their jobs and paying those that do their jobs well a higher salary?

      You're an idiot!

      Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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    • I'm not sure but I'd imagine it would be based on test scores... however that may not be the most effective method as those could be altered to reflect a positive outcome.

      Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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    • Yeah, anyone who still believes the nonsense posed by Liebama during his campaign is a gullible fool.

      And, that was sarcasm doofus. Socialism is the new n-word remember? Any criticism of Liebama or leftist institutions is racist or hate or un-American.

      Suggesting that the unions be undermined by paying teachers what they earn instead of what their seniority dictates, falls in to that category. Racist, intolerance, un-American, whatever nonsense buzzword knee-jerk reaction used by the left to c More..

      Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

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  • lmao!

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • There is nothing wrong with the Amount of time American students spend in school...it's just the way it is spread out throughout the year.

    Obama is very accurate in his assertion that the agrarian educational calendar is outdated and hurting student achievement.

    A 2.5 month break for summer is just way too long. Year round schools--practiced in almost every country in the world produce better long-term results.

    Europe has the same number of days, generally, as the U.S., but their breaks More..

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • Too bad both of you are wrong.

    American students actually spend more time in school than the students of countries that Obama points to that are supposedly outperforming us.

    http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2009/05/18/2830099-fact-check-are-us-students-really-that-bad

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • interesting link, thanks...

      perhaps from looking at that, the problem lies with the teachers not the amount of time being taught....

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • That's kind-of the point... 2nd most expensive education system on Earth, and spending more time in school doesn't improve the result. You can go stare at a wall and play on myspace or text nude photos of yourself for 16 hours a day, every day of the year, and mysteriously you still wouldn't be educated.

      All they can do, to avoid being held accountable, is to claim that they're under-funded. Which any honest person knows it obviously bullshit. The few kids who actually grad in DC, a shocking am More..

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • The #1 deciding factor, by far, is the teacher. It's not funding. And time-spent is irrelevant because more time not-learning doesn't fix anything.

      There have been zoning and redistricting flukes where tiny little 200 student rural schools are given an equal budget to that of a major urban school. So, this little school with a few teachers gets a huge 50 million dollar check, having no idea what to do with it. They put in an olympic sized pool, a NASA like computer lab, computers at every desk. More..

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • the deciding factor would be parenting, how your child performs in school reflects that.

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • You can't support that. It's contradictory to all evidence.

      Parenting is important in every single aspect of a child's life, obviously. It's a baseless non-sequitur though. Parents are not part of the education system. And in looking for the problems with the education system, pointing at the parents is as relevant as pointing at a student's hair color or shoe size.

      The single most important aspect (of our education system) is the quality of the teacher. It's not the parents who insist on a co More..

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • I agree, the summer break is... a break in the continuity of schooling.

    BTW, this idea is not new.

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • GOOD!

    Keep all those shiittehead punks and soon to be punks off the streets as long as possible.

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • You can talk all you want, but you are out of your league.

    The biggest factor in student achievement is the economic situation of the family. Fact. It's not disputable.

    Are there other factors? Yes.
    Can poor students succeed? Yes.
    Do rich kids fail? Yes.

    Anecdotal stories about individual success are all well and good--and they should be celebrated and emulated. Indeed, there are several bright spots around the country where new educational practices are bucking the trend poverty and More..

    Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

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  • seriously, you're talking about evidence and you tell me to watch a movie? then take my use of funding and twist it to your desire?

    is it 4:20 yet?

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • Well see, many other nations are teaching reading, writing, math, history and other usable subjects.
    America's politically correct public schools are teaching junk.
    American teachers are under trained and unionized so they don't have to perform at levels teachers in other nations are required to perform at.
    Hell, teachers in some third world countries out perform American teachers in math and even english when it isn't their first language.
    And Obama just wants more of the same.
    Sheesh, lib More..

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • OH NOEEES!!!! he wants kids to get more schooling and get a better education? HE'S A NAZIII!!!!! what is he thinking! whats next? giving teachers raises!?!

    are you people kidding me? This is a good idea and something I've really never heard anyone ever say. I can't believe the stuff that people are against, I thought all the people calling Obama a socialist for the health care thing was bad. This just takes the cake.

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • he just wants more of a reason to raise school taxes,.
    to add anything more to the now struggling school budgets would constitute a National school Tax,..

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • Hey. Obama is on to something here. Compare our children s education and maturity to other nations (Average) and you would be appalled. But then again most of you parents cannot read, write or speak the English language. But you sure can get a job at walmart, work for one of the defunct USA auto manufactures and get lots of benefits for doing very little work and attend a Tea Party and protest about issues you have no idea about.

    Society is great. Let the kids go to school less, sti on there bu More..

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • Most industrialized countries provide only a basic academic education for all students. After grade 6 or so, standardized tests are used to determine which students should receive vocational (or no) training. Those who pass the test continue on for a few years before being retested. Those who are not achieving at an acceptable are off to vocational school. After graduation, more tests decide who gets into which college. Sort of like SAT testing here.

    In the US all students must attend school More..

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • Nope, first, that's too long for most Americans to read. Second, it involves a multi-faceted approach. Finally, it has some facts in there that didn't spring forth from an ideological perspective.

      Most Americans only respond to single word solutions like "vouchers."

      It's why meaningful and effective reform will never take place. Too many people take their marching orders and form their opinions of things from the radio or cable TV.

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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    • Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I won't tell you how many things I omitted in the interest of brevity. I was both pleased and surprised to get a thoughtful reply.
      I'm sure you are correct. We live in a complex society. Many problems are multi-faceted and
      lack simple solutions. Education issues must be dealt with at the local and state level. Unfortunately, many of the funding sources available at the local level have dried up.

      Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • What a fuck up obama is. Liberals should be deported to africa where they belong. Then the muslim janjaweed can whip them into shape...

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • The PC nonsense must be aggrevating for teachers especially in the materialistic world we live in. They probably lose interest in what they're doing after a bit not to mention their pay. I was driving a nicer car than my gr 10 math teacher- maybe he was hoarding money but wtf. twas a beater and what a miserable guy he was..

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • Lame. Yes, let's be like the asians who do nothing but sit in school all day then become disconnected little robot soldiers. No thanks.

    Hire better teachers. Stop hiring the addicts who apply for the job because they get a rush out of being in charge.

    Make parents more accountable for their child's actions. Make them perform community service.

    Maybe experiment with shorter summers, as long as those off days are shifted to some extra three day weekends or something (or however year r More..

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • Half ass conspiracy time! You already heard about Obama's address to the students about "persavering and working hard". Well now you put that and this new propaganda together and what do you get? America's owners selling out while blaming the "lazy American laborer and Obama voters". If America were more like Japan they would only sell and not buy ie. you have to manufacture things that are all being sold out on in America. The best thing for AMerican majority is to rid their More..

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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  • "But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom" LOL. Man this guy is the absolute best bullshitter in the world!

    Posted Sep-28-2009 By 

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