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Pros and Cons of a Longer School Year

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

The start of another school year brings to the forefront the old arguments about whether or not a longer school day and year would be helpful to students and would help the United States to compete against other nations in academic achievement. Among those other nations against whom we have lost the edge in learning, especially in math and science are Japan, India, China and more. We know that those nations have a longer school day and year as compared to the United States.

There are those educators who argue that the problem is not the amount of time American kids spend in school but the value that is placed on education. For example, in Japan, education is very highly valued and, therefore, taken very seriously among families and their youngsters. Many educators believe that, as a society, we do not place high value on education or on teachers. They point out that athletic competition holds first place in the U.S. For example, many families place great energy and emphasis on playing basketball and football in High School so that their kids can get athletic scholarships.

Everyone points to many states that have extended their school year and the results so far gained. The results are not consistent. There are those school districts whose students academic performance has improved while there are others where it has made no difference.

Many people agree that if the school year is extended then there cannot be “more of the same.” In other words, the quality of education must be improved rather than providing more of the same mediocre learning environment. Some people stress that disciplines like music and art must be included and upgraded in an extended school year. Naturally, standards of teaching and learning in reading, math and science must be improved.

Another area of agreement amongst parents, educators and experts is that air conditioning must be put into those schools if they do not already have them because it’s impossible to learn in the heat of summer. Issues of teacher salaries must be addressed and providing school breakfast and lunch must be considered. All of this and more would add to the strain put on school budgets already cut due to difficult times.

It should be clarified that a longer school year does not mean extending into July and August. However, it does mean that school might continue until the end of June or even into the first week of July. However that might be, it does mean increasing the amount of learning time beyond the present 180 days per year schedule.

What are your opinions about this controversial issue? Your comments are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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