Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Newsy: Critics: Obama Call for Extended School Year 'Impossible

President Obama's call to extend the school year has critics saying budget realities will make the proposal impossible.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “We now have our kids go to school about a month less than most other advanced countries. And that month makes a difference. ... So the idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense.” (NBC)

It’s a comment that isn’t likely to gain President Barack Obama many friends among American students -- but his call to extend the school year has school districts across the country doing the math. Critics say -- good idea, but who’s going to pay for it?

We’re analyzing coverage from NBC, WTVG, WXXA, WDAF and the American Enterprise Institute.

The comments came as President Obama announced a series of initiatives aimed at addressing what some call America’s “education deficit.” Northwest Ohio’s WTVG portrays the idea of longer school years in a largely positive light, comparing average U.S. school years, to those of other countries: “In Japan students go to school 243 days out of the year. In Israel students go to school 216 days out of the year, and in England students go to school 192 days out of the year. And finally, in the U.S., students go to school 180 days out of the year.”

PARENT: “I think we’re clearly in a situation where education isn’t working, and if other countries are doing things that seem to be working, then probably our best posture is to learn from them.”

But Albany, New York’s WXXA features students and school officials who don’t like the idea of an extended school year. The Fox-affiliate spoke with a school administrator who says it might not work for everyone.

MARIA NEIRA: “Research doesn’t bear out that a longer school year will necessarily give you more student achievement, so we have to figure out is if one size fits all, or are there communities that need an extended school year. Not everyone falls into that category.”

Kansas City’s Fox affiliate crunches some local numbers and concludes -- the proposal might end up being too costly: “If you add extra days that means adding the cost of teachers, of running the buildings and cost for transportation. ... The Kansas City Kansas School district said ... the total will be outrageous and said it's hard enough keeping schools funded during a normal year and that adding additional days will be close to impossible.”

But the American Enterprise Institute’s Frederick Hess says it would be money well-spent. He suggests the whole notion of summer vacation is outdated, and now there are better ways to use the summer months in school: “It would allow schools to include more recess and athletics throughout the year, give teachers more time to conduct rich and imaginative lessons, and provide more time for music and the arts--all without compromising academic instruction.”

So do you think an extended school year will help or hurt the American public education system?

Writer: Christina Hartman and Chance Seales

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

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