“I'm not against longer school days or longer school years; I work year-round anyway. But I am against hoping against hope that somehow a longer school day or year will make a difference. Curricula need to be re-evaluated, standards may even need to be reconsidered, and classroom teachers as well as school staffs and administrators have to be better prepared to think differently and with the long view about improving the educational experience for students.”
I totally agree with Elaine. I don’t believe that the length of the day makes as much of a difference as the quality of education given in a day. I have seen too many teachers give their students busy work while they take on the role of babysitter. How will these students improve or grow in knowledge if they just do the same things, only for a longer period of time. Just like the saying goes, “It isn’t quantity but quality.”
I feel that we need to do a better job with evaluating and training teachers to give a quality education. We also need to train teachers how to cope with the burden of all the paperwork while teaching quality lessons. I know that we teach quality in colleges, but when overwhelmed with the paperwork and red tape of every day responsibilities, it seems as if quality is the first thing to go.
I have a problem when choosing curriculum becomes a political choice rather than what is in the best interest of the students. Many decision makers will say that it isn’t so but many of us in education has seen this happen. How many textbooks were chosen for the state because of politics? How many people on state school boards actually know what is going on in the schools and look at what is in the best interest of the students and not the state. How many politicians are making decisions about what is going on in schools when they have no idea what is going on in the schools? How many politicians have spent a few days in the classroom to understand what is actually going on?
As head of the department, I watched while it took three years to get rid of a terrible teacher. Three years is a long time in a student’s life. Three years that a group of students wasted their time and missed out on a quality education. The system needs to be overhauled if it takes that long to get rid of a bad teacher. No wonder that parents and politicians blame the schools. But they also need to take in account politics and lawsuits. We had to document all the bad teaching so this teacher didn’t turn around and sue the school. Maybe it is just me, but that is ridiculous. After the first year of evaluation, the teacher was put on an improvement plan for the second year. Then the second year, she didn’t improve so she was put on probation for the third year and finally suspended from teaching. Even after the suspension she got paid until the school board decided to terminate her employment. I don’t know many other jobs that you would be given three years if you did a terrible job.
Even if we increase the length of the day, and we still give garbage teaching, what are we accomplishing? I’m not saying all teachers are bad or that all schools have terrible curriculum but if we don’t look at the big picture, the effective teachers and the effective curriculum will be buried under all the other junk. As taxpayers, we should expect the most bang for our buck and that doesn’t mean just more time. In order for our students to be successful, we need to improve the quality of the schools and not just the quantity of seat time.
Original image: 'Teaching is not Rocket Science' http://www.flickr.com/photos/91312924@N00/2942564830 by: Dean Shareski