Governor Grahom recently aired the idea of an extended school year for Michigan students. She says U.S. students are at a disadvantage globally. So how often are kids in other countries in school?
Richard G. Neal wrote in School Reform News that in "Germany, for example, some schools in year-round programs can run up to 240 instructional days per year. Students in Japan are required to go to school 240 days per year, and students in Singapore attend year-round schools for 280 days per year."
By contrast kids in Michigan are required to be in school for a minimum of 165 days.
We posted Governor Granholm's idea on our Facebook page and it resulted in a lively discussion.
Ten to Eight
We had ten posters supportive of the idea of an extended school year (or a shortened summer break), and 8 posters opposed to the idea. Here are some of the thoughts people shared on the subject.
Several wrote in to say that summer breaks cut into learning and even puts kids at a disadvantage. Rowe Spencer said:
Kids should go to school year-round. There's no sense in giving them 3 months off only to spend the first two months of the next year re-teaching what they've forgotten.
Skye Matthews-Savage wrote in to say and end to summer break doesn't have to mean and end to quality vacations:
Think of the great time you could spend with your kids, say, skiing in February or sledding, or visiting DC in the Spring for the cherry blossoming! Good things happen around the year that you can do with your kids, not just in the summer.
Bobbi Britton wrote to say she knows of one seven-year old in favor of a longer school year, her own:
Definitely in favor of year-round school...and my 7-year old niece is as well. She told me school should be for two months with a week off, then two months, etc...If we expect our kids to compete we have to make sure they're ready. It's a waste of time and talent to spend the first two months of the school year re-hashing what was taught the last two months of the previous year.
Scott Hancock felt that school is already too invasive for his family:
As a parent of five, I look forward to summers with my children. During the school year, their teachers monopolize the children's time with homework an other items. It is hard for a parent to spend any actual time with their children doing anything other than school prescribed functions. Multiply that by five and you might understand how wonderful summer break is for parents too.
Mike Damron thought that a lot of schools are struggling now (budget cuts, lack of supplies, school infrastructure problems. He wrote:
While I generally back the Governor, I'm not sure that more classtime is the answer when compared to better supporting the current classtime we have now.
Linda Blumstein, a former teacher, felt that summer offered experiences kids couldn't get in the classroom.
If they forget what they've learned during the 10 weeks off then they really didn't learn it in the first place. There are so many educational and enrichment programs offered during summer months at a more relaxed pace that truly help kids grow and develop. The leadership programs my kids have been involved with over the summer are priceless and couldn't happen on a shorter schedule. My daughter was actually electronics free for 6 weeks.
Where's the proof?
Some posters asked for proof that extended school years help kids learn. So what do you think? Know of any independent research highlighting the benefits of an extended school year, or showing the benefits of summer break?