I have said this before and I’ll say it again, though many might disagree with me. It is about Quality, not Quantity! It seems like so many non-educators think if we stuff kids in classes for more time, they will suddenly become smarter. Unless we improve the quality of learning that our students are receiving, I don’t care how long they actually sit in a desk, they are not going to learn more. Our schools become warehouses, teachers become high priced babysitters, taxpayers become resentful because they still do not see better results for their money. Is this the kind of educational future we want for our students?
This made me think of a youth league baseball team. Many young boys sign up with dreams of being great ball players and the league doesn’t turn anyone away. Many of the players have different levels of skills and they may all play on one team. Hopefully by the end of the season, many of them have learned new skills or improved on old ones. But do we honestly think if we add more innings, play more games, and extend the season that they become pro baseball players? If the players have certain abilities, I’m not sure that having them play more and longer will actually help them. I see it causing them to burn out, hate the game, resent the coach, and wanting to quit.
What about the other things in life that our children need to become well rounded citizens. What about the families who are involved in their church or other community organizations? Do we think that spending more time warehoused in a school is more important than their family or their church? Do we want our government to determine this? This situation scares me. It seems like the government wants more and more control and is allowing parents to have less and less control. The Revolutionary War happened because citizens felt the government had too much control and now it seems like we are moving backwards instead of forward.
I look back at the education system from the one room school house to today’s system. I know we have made changes and great strides. But I also see over the years that there has been more government involvement, more red tape, and more hoops for teachers to have to jump through. Teachers in the classroom barely have time to teach any more for all the paperwork that has to be done. And every time the powers that be say they will “reduce paperwork,” it seems like 5 more pages of required paperwork are added in order to document what has been eliminated. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny!
Instead of increasing the hours and days that students are in a classroom, maybe the President needs to look at how we can increase the actual quality of the time that the students are already in the classroom. I have talked to lots of teachers that have great ideas and are truly motivated but then are stifled by the overwhelming responsibilities they face every day. Maybe the President should teach a day in a school that follows the exact schedule that a teacher does (along with the 25 min. lunch period that the students and teachers get), and have to follow all the rules, regulations, standards that the teacher actually has to do, plus complete all the paperwork required for that day also. Maybe he might have a different perspective. I foresee adding more time in the classroom, whether more hours or more days, will only increase the paperwork that the government will require to validate this change.
I also haven’t heard of how the government plans to fund this new adventure (and believe me, I do see this as an adventure). Will they increase the educator’s salary for this extra time or do they expect educators to do it for free? If they do plan to increase the salary, will they raise taxes some more? How will homeowners who are struggling to pay the taxes they are already burdened with find money to pay for additional taxes? During these economic times when people can’t get health care, feed their families, and are losing their homes, is this the time act foolishly?
I honestly don’t see how this can be successful. If you do, please share with me your thoughts so I can see it differently. I’m not sure I will change my mind, but I am open to listening.
Original image: 'veritum dies aperit' http://www.flickr.com/photos/73584213@N00/322654818 by: John Harvey