My View: Longer school days can work
September 24th, 2012
04:07 AM ET

My View: Longer school days can work

Courtesy Colin Stokes/Citizen SchoolsBy Eric Schwarz, Special to CNN.

Editor’s Note: Eric Schwarz is the co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, a nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities across the country. The organization has been recognized as a national example by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education. Schwarz is the author of “Realizing the American Dream: Historical Scorecard, Current Challenges, Future Opportunities,” a widely cited essay examining social change efforts, and co-editor of The Case for Twenty-First Century Learning.

In 1995, in a concept paper for a new nonprofit organization, I wrote that, “…we need to stop bashing schools and stop expecting school teachers to perform miracles.” We know that most teachers across the country are putting in long hours, many of which are off-the-clock, working hard to provide students with a great education.

Sadly, for too many of their students, it’s not enough.

The achievement gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers is almost twice what it was when I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s. About one in four American students, with much higher rates among minority and low-income youth, do not graduate from high school. In the face of persistent achievement and opportunity gaps, the traditional school day is failing our most vulnerable children.

As a result, schools and school districts across the country are looking to add more quality learning time to the school day in an effort to help those students who are falling behind. According to Mike Sabin, former principal of the EdwardsMiddle School in Boston where more learning time helped the school close the achievement gap, “When you’re letting your kids go at 1:30 in the afternoon and they’re not achieving yet, it’s fairly obvious that using the afternoon is something you have to do.”

Too often, however, in the debate over longer school days, the conversation turns to the logistics of how teachers will staff the extra hours. School districts and teachers unions have gone to battle over the details of how many hours teachers will be required to work and how they will be compensated. The good news is that the burden of a longer school day does not have to fall solely on the backs of traditional teachers.

While districts and unions have debated if and how to lengthen the school day, there are dozens of pioneering schools that have moved forward with innovative approaches to lengthening the day. More than 20 middle schools in eight states are partnering with Citizen Schools, the organization I founded, to add three mandatory hours to the school day with the support of an army of AmeriCorps national service fellows and community volunteers. This "second shift" of educators lead academic practice sessions, help students with homework, connect with parents, and teach apprenticeships where students work on hands-on projects with professionals from the community.

Before ELT, our partner schools made, on average, zero or minimal progress on building student proficiency on standardized tests, well below their districts’ averages. Per a recently released report on year one of Citizen Schools’ national pilot ELT initiative, students in partner schools averaged an annual 8.3-percentage point gain on state standardized exams in math and a 2.3-point gain in English Language Arts. These results significantly exceeded the rates of improvement prior to implementing ELT and the rates of improvement across the host districts. As Citizen Schools continues to gather data on year two of the initiative, we are seeing significant gains in student achievement similar to year one.

It’s not just Citizen Schools that is working on inventive approaches to lengthening the day. Additional schools have partnered with other community organizations like The After-School Corporation (TASC) and Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) to provide more learning time for kids and evidence has shown that these partnerships are working. TASC conducted a three-year pilot program in New York City in which students outperformed city and state peers in improving math and English language arts proficiency, and teachers reported that student learning improved. Evaluations have shown that BELL has a significant, positive impact on students’ academic skills.

Providing students with more time to learn critical skills and participate in engaging projects that get them excited about school can help teachers with their day-to-day work. According to Lisa Nelson, principal at Isaac Newton Middle School in New York City, “Now that we are implementing ELT, our teachers are more effective because all their students have completed their homework, have practiced academic skills and have new reasons to care about school and see its relevance to their future.”

In the school’s first year of partnering with Citizen Schools to lengthen the school day, Isaac Newton Middle School was able to increase math proficiency on the state exam by 26 percentage points and increase English language arts by 17 percentage points. These are the kind of results an entire school community can get excited about.

There is no denying that access to excellent teachers is a critical factor in helping students succeed. In some cases, however, even the best teachers need support to help reinforce the good work they are doing. One way to do this is to provide their students with more time to learn and fill that time with quality learning experiences that help drive student achievement.

Through the proven models outlined above, we can do this without burning out teachers who are already working long hours.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Eric Schwarz.

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Filed under: Issues • Policy • Voices
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. make money

    You actually make it appear really easy with your presentation however I find this matter to be actually something that I believe I might never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely extensive for me. I am having a look forward for your subsequent put up, I will attempt to get the dangle of it!

    September 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  2. Benny

    I hated middle school and high school. The week long chapter, a single chapter only for an entire week. So boring, drags on for no real good reason. Then they want to lengthen the day. I would homeschool my kid. This idea is terrible and I don't think it would make any better 'absorption rate' for such things as language arts. Really? Try more time in science, or something as important to have humans doing things, neccesary things for society as a whole.

    September 26, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  3. drowlord

    Our goals, expectations, and ideals just don't coincide with reality most of the time.

    Not all of our students are 17th century aristocrats destined to become Renaissance philosophers. We have relatively little demand for philosophers in the 21st century labor market. In fact, we have no demand for poets and historians, either. The market for writers, athletes, musicians, and artists is pretty soft, too. Unfortunately, this stuff dominates our costs and time in the lower grades.

    School doesn't seem to encourage kids to learn personal or business finance. School perpetually under-emphasizes math and science which might apply to science, medicine, and engineering careers. Seems like the majority of people could stand to learn about electricity, plumbing, carpentry, light construction and other "home competence" skills, too.

    I'm not sure why we're so frantic about giving kids an art-oriented education and simultaneously so cavalier about releasing them into the world without the most basic skills.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  4. ann

    I feel the push for longer school days is more to do with parents not wanting to have to find childcare after school than it is about the students learning more. You are not going to get more learning by making kids sit still for more and more hours. After awhile the kids brains just shut off.

    I was a very good student, but not because of most of the teachers or the curriculum. Once in awhile I would find a gem of a teacher that really really enjoyed teaching and was very good at conveying the message. But overall most seemed to wish they were somewhere else and monotonously shoveled through lessons like an assembly line and with about as much enthusiasm as a person shoveling poo off the sidewalk.

    I think I actually had more issues from teachers and administrators trying out new age ideas such as a complete open plan school with no walls anywhere (talk about having a hard time concentrating) to counting by putting dots on the numbers (basically a sneakier way of counting your fingers).

    I have no idea why school was so dull or what caused it to become that way. However, I think a new approach is warranted. Instead of pointing out every single year how we are not doing as well as other countries. Why not figure out what the successful schools are doing and try that?!? Hmm or is that too difficult?

    September 25, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • ann

      And the solution is not more money. I tutored math to classmates during college and it didn't take any $ or supplies at all for me to get my point across.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • letsBcivil

      "You are not going to get more learning by making kids sit still for more and more hours. After awhile the kids brains just shut off."
      I agree with your point. The human brain is not a computer.

      "I think I actually had more issues from teachers and administrators trying out new age ideas such as a complete open plan school with no walls anywhere (talk about having a hard time concentrating) ...... "
      Thankfully I never had to endure this myself but I remember when the talking heads were trumpeting what a great thing it was despite the fact that it defied common sense. It's a perfect example of how tinkering can do far more harm than good.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Oneofsix

      Ann, I think you are kind of there…but as far as the “new age teaching”…that has more to do with administration, government and college professors all wanting to BE THE ONE to come up with the new way to effectively teach our children. (not that far off from the author of this article) Most teachers, know what it takes to teach the student effectively, but are not allowed…due to pull outs, or this new program or that new idea all handed down to them from above (and might I mention. Changing year to year – no consistency). Often they have to figure ways to teach around the “new age teaching” and get back to basics. I also agree with the enthusiasm of the teacher, plays a major role, but I know many teachers (who are extremely effective) who are so frustrated with the system they are themselves wanting to give up. Imagine a job…where you have so much to offer, but are not allowed because of your management…what would you do? Probably look for a new job…but for many teachers they stay trying to make a difference because they are dedicated and care about the students in their class rooms.

      September 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  5. letsBcivil

    We'll never solve the education problem as long as we continue to think there's a "one size fits all" solution. There isn't. Many schools, teachers, and students in this country are quite successful. The old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" was born of wisdom. Constant tinkering with what teachers should teach and how to teach it only hurts those already succeeding.

    On the other hand, there are other schools, teachers, and students in this country that are failing miserably. The root of the problem can be very different for each failure. That means we need more targeted solutions. What works in LA might not work in Miami. What works in school A might not work across town in school B. What works for girls might not work for boys. Where failures occur we often know what's wrong but our broad brush bandaid approaches fail to address the root causes so the failures continue. I consider longer school days one of those broad brush bandaids and, like many earlier broad brush approaches, it could do more harm than good.

    September 25, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  6. Jared Melrath

    I'm a teacher. I'm all for working more hours as long as I get paid more. I think that means higher taxes for everybody though. I'm down if y'all are.

    September 25, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  7. fiftyfive55

    Children not only need longer school days,they also dont need that 3 month summer vacation since the kids dont work the farm anymore.

    September 25, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • ann

      Actually that is a common misconception. Kids were needed for Spring planting or Fall Harvest. There wasn't a lot kids needed to help out with in the summer on the farm. It was actually started because people who lived in the city wanted to escape the lack of AC, insects, dirtyness, blocked airflow from buildings, heat etc and go to cooler places.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:22 am |
      • fiftyfive55

        you are off a little here.before world war 2,the majority of Americans lived on farmsbut came to the cities with the manufacturing jobs.the kids were previously kept home in summer during farming season so they could help with chores,this was all before government subsidies enabled these kids to attend school.

        September 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
      • ann

        Summer is not the big season for work on a farm! It doesn't make sense that you believe kids were kept home for extra chores. They did those chores either in the morning or after school!

        September 26, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • ADSLubec

      Great then you pay the higher taxes for increased salaries and energy costs.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
      • fiftyfive55

        I already pay for a whole year's work and only get 9months out of them,who are you foolin here ? and what extra energy costs ? we dont heat schools in summer time and air conditioning is not a necessity for kids,I never was in an air conditioned classroom 'til college.

        September 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Rob

      Air conditioning is needed during the summer. Extending the school year would be very difficult in many areas of our country. In the southwest many schools have evaporative cooling which works okay in May and September but would not be adequate during humid summer months. Some schools up north do not have any air conditioning at all. Also, teachers get paid only for the days worked. They do not get paid for the summer break. However, many teachers elect to get paid over 24 pay checks instead of 20. To extend the school year would cost taxpayers more. Many employees that work in our schools get paid hourly. Clerical staff, cafeteria staff, custodial staff, and transportion staff get paid hourly. Also, school meals would be an added cost.

      September 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  8. shawn l

    I have taught for 12 years, and have worked with americorps tutors extensively. Most of them are completely worthless and a waste of money and time. Maybe five percent of them do a decent to good job. The school districts have to pay half of the money for these tutors. While these tutors might be ok for younger kids, they don't cut the mustard for high school.

    Kids already spend 7-8 hours a day at school. Quite frankly, it's not more time at school that the kids need, but more parental support at home.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • marshap

      First I wish the whole usa knew that teachers in the south are not allowed to strike. It is in our contract. I taught for 25 years and the only thing a longer day will get you is more time to salute the flag and sing the national anthem. More annoucements and committees for the teachers to be on. Oh yes then lunch duty playground duty and giving out medication. Then we can sprinkle in a little teaching during discipline problems and dont you have that form turned in yet. It is a joke and that is why one day I walked out. No students were there.Students who excell in math and science should be allowed to go to a special school l Language students should be allowed to pursue what they excell in. All the problems come from the top. When will people get that fact. It is not the teachers they are not the boss.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:46 am |
      • Oneofsix

        Well said. The biggest complaint I hear from teacher…”Let us teach!”. …and for the record…teachers in NY are also not allowed to strike (State Law). Maybe if they could, the realistic world of teaching would get attention…not the BLAME the teacher for all of the educational failing. Let’s take a look at the top… who dictate what needs to be taught, how you teach it and let’s not forget how it makes the kids feel.

        September 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  9. Anon4242

    Longer school days will make a difference only if the parents and students care about grades and if the kids are not skipping out on school.
    If welfare and food stamps are tied to grades and attendance and if a parents benefits are reduced if they have no diploma or GED, then they'll have some incentive to care.

    September 25, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • Kel

      Agreed. Longer school days isn't the solution. We need to take a comprehensive look at the educational system itself.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  10. James Mulhern

    I absolutely agree that students need to spend more time in school. I teach in Florida, and it seems that students are out of school way too much–holidays, teacher planning days, etc. No wonder American students are falling behind other nations in achievement. Students need consistency, and a school calendar with multiple half-days and holidays impedes learning.


    September 25, 2012 at 3:58 am |
  11. Joe

    Since my county is less than 20% white, does that mean white middle class is now considered "Minority Status" Since there are fewer tax payers than tax takers, does that make me a minority?

    The original school day was established when america was an agrarian nation, lacked motor transportation, and most moms were more concerned with family than career ambitions.

    So OF COURSE we need a school day that mirrors the actual work day. Give them all some sort of organized sport from 3-5. Hand out a snack at 3pm. Then send them home at 530.

    Wait a moment, will the teacher unions be okay with this? Better check with them first. Lord knows it is not about keeping kids occupied when their parents are at work that is important to their well being. We do not want a strike on our hands.

    September 25, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Chris


      Just wondering, at your job, if they add 2+ hours to your work day, would you expect to be paid? Especially if those 2 hours are doing something that is NOT your job, aka babysitting as you're describing it. I as a teacher work just over 60 hour weeks, and get paid for 40. You are completely justified in thinking that days need to be extended in some places (I don't know of any schools getting out at 1:30 near here, our days go until 3:30 or 4). But you sound like a petulant child expecting people to work longer with no compensation.

      School is NOT about "keeping kids busy while their parents are at work." School is about education and learning. So yes, school is way behind times, but your concept of what a teacher is supposed to accomplish is absurd. Sure, put your kids in a sport. But that is not the school's job to find something for your kid to do. If you want to lengthen the day,

      September 25, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  12. Silence

    For the last 10 years since high stakes testing began, minority students have been behind. School improvement strategies have not fixed the problems. That is because they have not addressed the real problems. Problem is not the quality of teachers, the length of day or teachers' unions. It is class sizes that are too large, disruptive students who take up a major amount of a teacher's time, lack of resources to deal with the problem students who prevent others from learning and the vast amount of money in education going toward hedge fund investors and their pet projects of charter schools.

    Get Wall Street out of education. It screwed up the economy and now it is ruining public education. Huge amounts of money go toward testing companies, consultants, and charter schools; all Wall Street investments. Very little is going toward public schools.
    All this school improvement nonsense was not designed to improve public schools. It was designed to privatize public education to provide more investment opportunities for Wall Street.
    The tests were poorly written and will show failure no matter what. The concept of a business model of rewards and punishments is designed for failure so Wall Street can take over. Who do you think owns the charter schools. They really are for profit. And they really don't do a better job on average. They serve only 3% of the school age population and on average and do not take homeless students, English Language Learners, and the handicapped. These students are left in the public schools. So if charters not serve these students, why is it that they are not doing better than the public schools? After all, public school on average, do a better job and that is even with the homeless, ELL, and the special education students.
    America needs to stop giving tax dollars to these for profit schools.

    September 24, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Joe

      get the 19th century mentality out of education. Less focus on rote memorization of facts. More team work. Problem solving. Sifting large amounts of information. ie the stuff you have to do on tests like the wunderlik.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  13. Sarah

    Kids should be in school for about 8 hours a day, with time for lunch and recess. There isn't much of a point going longer (unless its for extra help or the programs the author mentioned) but we really need to drop the long summer break. We're no long a nation that does high-labor farming, for the most part. Six weeks or two months, broken up over the year is enough. That way kids don't forget what they know.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  14. Todney Harris

    Privatization! Untrained staff teaching students is not the asnwer! Period!

    September 24, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Silence

      Harmony charters are for profit charters. They are owned and operated by a Turkish Imam and the American tax payer pays for them.

      September 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Joe

      there should be no unions when public funds and public welfare are at stake

      September 25, 2012 at 1:47 am |
      • Chris


        Do you want to then waste the same public money having to hire lawyers each time a teacher is hired to fill out a new contract? I work in state without the right to strike, and having the union is a way to save time and money.

        There are hundreds of thousands of teachers in America, and individualized contract negotiations would take an absurd amount of time.

        September 25, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Chris

      What school do you know of with untrained faculty? In every state that I know of, you have to spend 4 years in college, plus take several tests in order to be certified. There are teaching programs outside of this, but then you get into your "untrained' idea.

      Private charter schools are the ones that don't have to have certification standards. Not necessarily saying one is better than the other, but you need to know the facts.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  15. Name*dallasareaopinion

    It is not longer days, but more productive days. Extending time is not the end of the world, but how well rounded is the day. Also what about developing curriculum that matches the brain development of the age of the child. For example kids learn language early in their life so more English and foreign language then (just one example). Also balance the day with learning activities and physical activity. For longer days you can flex teacher schedules so they can be there for before and after school tutoring but not all day. The problem is we are under educated as a society because of watered down expectations over decades. If we can get people motivated to demand more for our children the programs and r

    September 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  16. ADSLubec

    Lengthen my kids school day and I'd take her out of the school. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. You will burn out children and staff. Additionally if you add time you will increase costs. Increased energy needs and increased salaries will result. I am not paying more taxes for a longer school day.

    Most of our children are doing just fine under our current system. If inner city children are lagging behind go find a solution there. Leave the achieving districts alone.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Joe

      if by fine you mean underachieving compared to every other industrialized nation then sure.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:48 am |
      • ADSLubec

        Wrong you are Joe. Pull the scores of theurban poor out and we measure up just fine. On top of that you must realize that the scores in foreign countries exclude millions of students deemed not suitable for higher education. They don't take those international tests. We, the US let any Joe take the exams.

        September 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  17. G.

    Uh... kids already hate the long monotonous hours. by making school shorter, they will be more stimulated and can focus for that time before going home. if the day is extended, they will hate it and not pay attention.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  18. Andrey

    Hopefully, the smarter kids will resist this one tooth and nail by refusing to do any more work beyond the absolute minimum to pass. How about a better system – Anyone whose GPA is above 3.0 gets to go home early, while those below 3.0 get to serve their penalty after hours. Why punish the smarter kids just because some of their peers are too dim to handle the workload others have no trouble with? Plus I bet that would motivate quite a few students to do better in school.

    September 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • shawn l

      GPA is a joke. No teacher grades hard anymore, as parents complain to the administration who puts pressure on the teachers to lower standards.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  19. Jim

    School ending at 1:30? Try 4:00 for the high school with a start time of 8:30.

    September 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  20. gahh

    Ask the workers who make Apple I Pads in China, how they like working 12 hour days, 6 days a week. Remember when the net had to be put around the Apple building, because so many chinese employees, were committing suicide, by jumping off the building. Try to make kids go to school 10 hours a day, 6 days a week and see what happens. It's called burnout, and in the end, nobody wins.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Joe

      who cares about them? There are your people and there are other people. I learned this in the army.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  21. kathleenrobinson425

    Don't you remember playtime? Kids are burned out by 3:30. They need time to relax and assimilate their day. Better a longer school year.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  22. Milton Platt

    How about longer school year for the under achievers only. They are the ones who need the help to get up to speed. Longer school days may not work, but shorten the summer vacation by a month for those who need more time to get the picture. You could work with those kids more one on one and not hold the rest back in the meantime.

    September 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • ADD

      Ever hear of Summer School???

      September 25, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  23. Ridiculous

    When will educational policy actually take into consideration the one group of professionals who have first-hand knowledge of what works and what doesn't?

    A longer school day will not promote higher achievement. My students are already burned out by being in school from 8:00 – 3:00. If anything, we should be looking at a longer school year. Three months without any formal schooling is a long time for a low-income student and the achievement gap with these students shows.

    September 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  24. Oneofsix

    I am not sure about how it works in all areas, but I know the districts where I live, most students are in school till 2:30, and most of the schools offer after school tutoring and programs. Additionally many teachers are willing to stay after school, might I mention on their own time –to help their students. Their only requirement is that the student is at least trying to learn during the school day. Most teachers are extremely dedicated and want to see the students in their classes achieve.
    My mom was a teacher, my sister is a teacher, many close friends are teachers and I personally have done educational programs in many schools. Although extending the day sound like a quick solution…how about actually letting the teachers teach, and stop changing the way they have to teach each year. (Stop trying to recreate the wheel) Hold the kids accountable for their own education…instead of worrying how they feel. One school I was in has a 4 to 1 policy with teaching…that means that for every realistic statement you make to a child you have to give four positive statements…ex: “Susie I see you have your notebook and a sharpened pencil, thank you(1)” and “you filled in both first and last name in the heading on the paper(2)”, and “Thank you for sitting in your seat properly(3)” and “oh yes I see you answered some of the question(4)”…but reality…”your answers are all wrong...but don’t worry you did everything else good”.
    As easy as it sound that…”extending the school day” is the answer …I personally feel there are many other issues that need to be addressed first.
    Oh yeah…let’s not forget “No child left behind”….and… What are the parent’s responsibilities here?

    September 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Joe

      BOTH parents work 8 hour a day jobs to pay taxes to pay for public drones. Better if we ALL went back to one breadwinner per household and homeschooled and got a tax break for doing so.

      ANY college graduate can teach K-12 with some very minor training. If mom has a college degree, why work for less than it costs for child care, pre school, tax for underperforming schools, after school programs, day care, etc.

      Mothers should TAKE CHARGE of their families.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:52 am |
      • donna

        Joe, what decade do you live in? I grew up in the 70's, moms stayed home and the dads worked. Many kids in my school dropped out, a vast majority didn't go to college. So, I don't think the stay at home mom is the answer either!

        September 25, 2012 at 7:56 am |
      • cks

        Teaching one's children is not as easy as one thinks – I have taught all my children in a formal classroom setting at one time or another. Many of my colleagues wondered how I did it – it is becuase my children were taught to view me as their teacher while at school, not their mother (they even addressed me as Mrs. ______, not Mom. My husband was the one who oversaw their homework so that they would not get an unfair advantage.

        A good teacher puts in many hours over and beyond what one sees in the classroom. I have taught for over 35 years and I am working harder today than ever. For every hour in the classroom there is another hour or more spent in preparation and then grading is on top of that. My summers are spent preparing for the next academic year as there are not enough hours in the day to plan, eat, sleep, and have a life. I enjoy what I do – have had numerous opportunities to have a more lucrative profession.
        While there are poor teachers our there, they are not the problem – the problem is that there is no respect accorded in this society for education (llok at how teachers are portrayed in films and on television). If society valued education then we would have children who are rested and prepared for each and every school day.

        September 25, 2012 at 11:08 am |
      • Oneofsix

        Who are the drones you talk about….the teachers I know are not drones. They are hard working and care about the kids they teach…and truthfully do not make close to enough what they should, for what they do. Trust me there is a whole lot more to teaching then just standing in front of a group of kids delivering a lesson plan. Teachers have become in many cases (sadly) social worker, counselors, child advocate and the only structured individual in the student’s life. As far as two parents working….that in many cases is a necessity to survive in today’s America. I sure there are a lot who would love to stay home with their kids…but working does not mean that you still can’t spend time with your children. Both my parents worked…but they made the time and sacrifices to be with us. Might I also mention…MY DAD was also there!!! Why is it that the mothers should take charge…shouldn’t the dad’s be there as well!

        September 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  25. vj

    I think summer break should be 6-8 weeks at the most. Bring them back to school early so you dont torture them with 6 hours of homework once the school starts . By the time August comes around kids are bored, they have forgotten everything they learnt and a month needs to be spent reteaching what they forgot. Copy Indian and South Korean schools and may be our kids would go places!

    September 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Joe

      summer break is an outdated concept.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  26. Scott B

    Longer school days are not needed for the vast majority of kids. All that's needed is a continuing expectation from parents that good grades are important. Outside of children moving schools with a different curriculum, I have never seen a kid with poor grades whose parents care continue to have bad grades despite all of their effort.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • se

      well put

      September 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • ADSLubec

      Exactly. The kids who fail generally have parents that fail.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  27. Jimmy-James

    How about parents do their jobs and continue their children's education and tutoring at home? How about some personal responsibility there?

    September 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • R Player

      Education is about learning from the smartest person in the room. Unless your father has the last name Hawkins or Gates most parents don't meet this requirement. Lets get our kids the help they need from the people who are best at providing it. Parents need to make sure Johnny shows up on time, is well mannered, dressed properly and fed with the understanding that education is privilege that can change their lives forever in was they cant understand yet so they need to stick with it. If teachers could get that much out of parents the world could change overnight.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Joe

      Then why pay taxes to have your children educated? Better to hire a family member to do it. The professionals are failing. Do we ask for citizen militias to patroll the streets because there are too few police officers?

      September 25, 2012 at 1:54 am |
  28. CINCEO1

    Longer school days are a definate plus today. Teachers get paid more (which they should anyways) and students have less time to get into trouble outside of school.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Ridiculous

      Teachers are not babysitters. I and most of my colleagues stay after school until 6:00 pm or later. We do so much unpaid word already. Keeping students longer will not make them higher achievers and will push teacher "school days" to 12 hours.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  29. The_Mick

    Most people do NOT realize it, but the average teacher NOW works 300 hours per year MORE than the average full time worker. Since teachers have 8 weeks off in the summer and 1 1/2 weeks during the December Holidays, clearly that means they're working 10-12 hour days plus hours of weekend preparation during the school year. And elementary schools, the focus of this article, are where teachers average the most work hours. If you're going to lengthen the school day, there will be an even more severe shortage of school teachers than there is now. MOST large school systems, before the crash, and many even now have recruiting drives in 3rd world countries because they can't get enough Americans who will work under those conditions for what the very Conservative magazine Forbes says is the 3rd lowest pay -including benefits- requiring a 4-year college degree. Note that Baltimore has 10% of its teachers from the Philippines. What do you want for America's children: majority 3rd world teachers?

    September 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Serious Person

      Hey, guess what most people work in the private sector? Yes, more than 40 hours a week and they DON'T have that much vacation. Point number two, the vast majority of teachers do NOT work that many hours outside of school hours. Oh yeah, did I mention I used to be a teacher? Teachers claim a lot of things that simply are not true.

      September 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
      • Ridiculous

        I think the main point here is you "used to be" a teacher. Most of my collegues work 10 – 12 hour days during the week and that does not even begin to count weekends. This is what it takes to be an effective and dedicated teacher. The point is that many in the private sector do not see the hard work teachers put in and the amount of hours it REALLY takes to run a classroom.

        September 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
      • Silence

        First of all, I don't believe you were a teacher. Secondly, even if you were, you have not been in education lately or you would not be saying teachers don't work that many hours. Many work many more hours that that. And lastly, if your really were a teachers, you would know that teachers do not have paid vacation. Technically, teachers are on leave with out pay during summer months. As for many many private sector employees working longer than 40 hour weeks, they also get paid overtime and get paid way more if they have the same amount of education as a teacher.

        September 25, 2012 at 12:11 am |
      • Silence

        I wouldn't do that job for what a teacher gets paid, the long hours they have to work and people like you running them down.

        September 25, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  30. Genie Medford

    What school dismisses their students at 1:30? Maybe that was an error, but continued academics until 3:30 should be addressed. Then have a rotation of volunteers to help students with community service type work so children can feel a sense of worthiness, accomplishment, and responsibility without being on the streets with nothing to do.

    September 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  31. goodjobmm

    I homeschool one child and the other goes to a regular (private) school. The Homeschooler gets less traditional class time but has a well rounded curriculum of my choosing. I can focus on areas of need and whiz through stuff she picks up easily. I believe a longer school day is a good idea but not if it's just more babysitting. Frankly, I think we can leave it as is if the parents would continue the schooling at home. My homeschooler understand she is always learning whereas my other child thinks school ends when he leaves the building.

    September 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  32. fiftyfive55

    Alonger school day is nothing short of preparing kids for adulthood.Kids have to get used to the 8 hour day they will most certainly live upon adulthood.If I remember right,we used to start school at 8:00a.m. and go till 3:00p.m. and dont remember any parents calling for a shorter school day.

    September 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • max3333444555

      this is not a universal problem. my kids are in a public district with good teachers and already getting quite enough credits and work to do. should they now give up their childhood for this propaganda campaign.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
      • fiftyfive55

        going to school 8 hours a day is not giving up a kids childhood,it is preparing them for life as an adult and kids nowadays need all the help they can get

        September 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
      • max3333444555

        thanks for the opinion but maybe you arent speaking for my kids. my kids get more than enough school and are in a good district, with good teachers and a good program. how about districts that need to solve the problem solve it?

        September 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • R Player

      Every child needs to have fun. But I have to agree that fun filled childhood memories don't pay the bills or prepare you to pay taxes or work a 9-5 job. I think the current educational stats are proving this to be true. We need to step up our game.

      September 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
      • max3333444555

        the best lessons in life arent learned exclusively in school.

        September 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • donna

      I live in Baltimore County, MD . My kids start school at 7:45 and classes end at 2:15. Two days a week they are there till 7PM with Marching Band (there are 2 teachers that stay for that), not counting football games and parades. The other days they are there with Drama clubs, student government,tutoring if needed. All these things are run by TEACHERS – who are volunteering their time! The Principal attends just about every event. Oh, did I mention that during the summer, the kids are there as well. We have very strong teacher and parent input. Oh, and by the way, the parents all work.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  33. Bob

    If you take all the fluff and moving about from room to room out of a kid's school day, you only need about 4 hours per day of quality instruction to equip a kid for college. Lengthening school days is not about quality education, it's about providing more tax subsidized babysitting for lazy parents who would rather have a second income than to spend time teaching their kids and helping to make them good citizens. It's a bunch of parents saying, "I don't get home from work til 6, can't you keep the little jerks a little longer?" lol

    September 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Serious Person

      I think back to one room schools. Teachers were able to teach with very little supplies and the kids could actually read, write legibly, point out Africa on a map, and do math. For all the supplies and education our teachers have today, the kids leave school without any of those things.

      September 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
      • max3333444555

        do all of your folks live in bad school districts?

        September 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  34. yarbird

    Seriously, people do not want their kids to be there longer, as a whole. Parents complained in Chicago- big time, and taxpayers will freak out if you ask them to pony up more money for the additional hours. Who wrote this????

    September 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  35. Lady Hay

    I certainly believe that all of our children are not getting enough "face" time with teachers. But I think a crucial part of this debate is the lack of physical activity that the children are engaged in. If you are going to lengthen the school day, it should offer everyday physical education, art and music. Using "recess" and "lunch" as a punishment tool is an old out dated, lazy, and unimaginative method of dealing with problems. By denying a child of physical activity, you are probably doing the exact opposite of what the childs needs. Examples from other countries who are beating the socks off of our kids, either have a longer school year or they have longer days in school.
    The teachers should not be expected to lengthen their day or year without additional salary.

    September 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  36. kyphi

    I've never heard of a school that ends the day before 1:30, unless it's for teacher workshops. I'd be in favor of a longer school day that includes intro-mural sports, reading time, and courses on manners. At least parents would know where their kids are.

    September 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  37. The Voice of Reason AL

    Longer school days will not work, no one not even the parents want their child to be over whelmed with school, maybe more days (if we can afford them) but not longer days

    September 24, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  38. Faye Hess

    While I recognize that the longer day can be beneficial and even crucial to some students, my son, who attended a public charter w/ an extended day for 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades really struggled. They had 15 minutes for lunch, 15 minutes for recess (including getting to and from) and if there was poor behavior during the day recess and or lunch could be taken away. The day started at 7:55 and ended at 4:30. In the end he was punished for not being able to endure the day and they just couldn't see the forest for the trees.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:21 am |