No more summer?

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President Obama recently proposed that American schools shorten summer break. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is set for renewal. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is hoping to bring more “reform” in early 2010.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporter Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview that Obama hopes “to go from, say, roughly 180 to closer to 200 school days.”

Obama says education in the United States lags behind, claiming other countries have longer days and longer school years and are experiencing success because of it.

In an Associated Press article Obama said the proposal is not well liked.

“Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas. Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom.”

Graphic by Garrett Pekar

The Associated Press reported that American school children actually spend more time in school than children from other countries who spend more days in school. However, the United States is consistently out-scored in areas of math and science by many Asian countries.

However, keeping children in school longer doesn’t mean higher knowledge will follow.

The American education system is flawed, built on public school systems that are rigged to “teach the test”
so they can receive more government funding to afford to pay teacher salaries.

If children were forced to change to a proposed 8 to 5 schedule, chaos would soon follow.

Young children’s attention spans cannot last for such rigor. Older students would lose time from sports and band activities that are normally held before and after classes. Students who work minimum wage jobs at the local restaurants would have to quit.

Teachers would have to work longer hours for the same salary; or if Obama had his way, salaries would be fixed, and the taxpayers would pick up the government’s tab once more.

Teachers work harder than most other professions, but they are only paid on the basis of their students’ performance rather than on their own.

They say their goal is to improve the economy’s future, but what about day cares that would be forced out of business, after-school programs like Big Brother Big Sister that would lose their customers and teens who would lose their jobs?

We know our kids are getting too fat, but we’re no longer requiring PE classes.

A mock focus group during an advanced public relations class revealed that many Crusaders think dinner would have to be provided for young children.

And with the proposed longer school days, there’s sure to be the necessity of a third frozen, mass-produced sodium fortified meal served by the cafeteria. The family no longer would have to eat a single meal together. Less work for mom, right? But what about the institution of the family? What about the relationship between parent and child? Should the prosperity of the family be sacrificed because of a president’s idea to be like the “other countries”?

I don’t want to be like any other country. We live in the best country in the world. People from thousands of miles away come to the United States for school as well as college.

Yes, the scores need to be improved, but the way to reach the goal of higher knowledge starts in the home. It starts with family. It doesn’t begin with 6:30 a.m. and dinner in the cafeteria with classmates.

It’s obvious we are off the mark, but to fix the problem correctly, we first have to identify it.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (funded by 30 countries) produced a test called the Program for International Student Assessment. The PISA is given to 15-year-olds and measures scores in various core subjects.

The United States averaged in the middle of the pack of a poll of 57 countries worldwide. Who came out in first? Surprisingly, it was Finland. More interesting than their educational victory is the way the country goes
about educating.

Finland has a nationwide curriculum, unlike the U.S. system, which varies from state to state. Even more astounding, Finland places very little emphasis on standardized tests. So, while the president wants to stress
early childhood education and lengthen school days to improve test grades, Finland students aren’t even starting school until they are 7 years old.

In addition, school funding is higher for middle schools and high schools where the dropout rate is higher among students.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told USA Today, “It’s one reason our schools produce millions of young people who aren’t completing college. They are simply not ready for college level work when they leave high school.”

Lengthening the school day and taking away much of summer vacation is not the best option for the United
States.

The president and his administration are treating it like it’s the only option. Institutions of education nationwide should have some say in the decision, and the taxpayers whose children are enrolled in the country’s schools should express their concerns about the government’s education reform.

Author: Kennan Neuman

Kennan Neuman is a senior mass communication/journalism major with a minor in Christian studies from the small town of Devine, Texas. She is the assistant editor and loves writing stories and designing pages. She also enjoys playing guitar for friends, the girls’ Bible study on Thursday nights and the youth at HBC in Temple. She loves reading a good Lucado book while on the back porch at home, drinking sweet tea and mastering Sudoku puzzles. She also enjoys having a “girls’ night out” and conversations at coffee shops.

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