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Learning takes time: Growing movement seeks to expand length of school day

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  • Still a Mormon Greenfield, IN
    May 14, 2013 6:16 p.m.

    Life is a way way way better teacher than any mortal imposter could ever try yo be. Quite frankly it is just unnatural. Everybody knows that school is a joke when you get out into the real world.

    Also I think that there is a secular elite in this nation that wants us and our kids to think like they do. The Public Education system is their tool. The Political Correctness movement is great evidence for it.

    If I were supreme dictator I would teach the basics and in a practical matter.

    How would cut the trim on an obtuse outside corner? (Math)

    What Principles require a ventilation stack for your homes plumbing? (Science)

    How do you run a business plan or budget?(Finance)

    How should you deal with a co-worker who is simply incompetent, should you call him out talk to a superior etc? (English)

    Also I know many Individuals who are well educated but who did really make it if you know what I mean. I also know many Individuals who never went to college but did make it.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    May 14, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    my kids do very well in school. They don't need more time in school, however to learn, they need to be encouraged to do independent learning--to be learning people. They do a lot of extra work, because I encourage them to discover things they are interested in outside of the need for approval from school teachers.

    Lengthier school days only means more exposure to a whole range of students--many of whom simply have no interst in learning and drag the whole class down. If the kids are getting their work done, what should it matter the length of the school day?

  • PGVikingDad Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 14, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    This is an exceedingly bad idea. Let's be honest with ourselves for a moment: Just how many *adults* could keep up a grueling schedule of 8 to 9.5 hours of study nine months of the year for twelve consecutive years? We call those who can "doctors," and there's a very good reason there are so few of them. This is overkill. I was educated in 6.5 hours/day, and my kids can be educated in the same amount of time.

  • Nebsy Ephraim, UT
    May 13, 2013 9:27 a.m.

    I teach. And, I value all of your comments and insight. There's some valuable stuff here! For children of dead beat parents (Yes they exist) additional positive time at school would be valuable IMO. But, until we have the guts to step in and evaluate the situation at home, to distinguish between homes where good things are happening and homes where kids are wasting their brains in front of a TV/cellphone/ipad/xbox, this conversation will only cause a reduction of rights to those parents/children who are doing positive things outside of school.
    If government wants to get involved and create environments whereby youth gain skills, elliminate the restrictive child labor laws!!! The knowledge and skills I gained working after school throughout my youth far surpassed what I learned in the classroom. The current system in this nation/state takes these opportunities away from our children. My advice is for parents to do all they can to create those same opportunities at home for their children.... Have your children raise livestock.. start a business... mow lawns... get out and learn how to make ends meet.....survive...compete.

  • qapilot Orem, UT
    May 13, 2013 7:44 a.m.

    Wow. Everyone has their own educational agenda. There are some simple facts that we all need to consider:

    1. Quality AND quantity of teaching needs to go up. At my level, quality has increased. We have had remarkable training on helping us be more effective teachers, and it's made a big difference in my classroom.
    2. Time matters. Those who say a longer school day won't make any difference give no support. Proficiency goes up ANY time you spend longer at a task. The idea that kids are spent by noon does them a disservice. Yes, it is easier for them to focus in the mornings, but American kids are used to being entertained and coddled. If school is rigorous and interesting, students will adapt and learn more.
    3. "Homework" (personal study) skills are dismal. Many of my students come regularly unprepared. They don't practice their skills. They think as long as you show-up in school most of the time, that's good enough. They're in for a tough road ahead. Parents MUST support personal study at home.

  • UteMiguel Go Utes, CA
    May 12, 2013 10:36 p.m.

    There is already an enormous amount of wasted time in the school day. The proposal to extend school days is simply an attempt by some parents to get more free day care while they are at work. Perhaps also an effort by teachers' unions to increase their influence. Adding hours to the school day will not make our kids smarter, but it will reduce their availability to explore and learn in non-school ways. For kids who have a parent that does not work (or works a short day), adding hours to the school day will take away from valuable time that kid could be spending with a parent.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    May 11, 2013 7:17 a.m.

    How could this ever happen in Utah without more funding for schools? We aren't yet funding the current system properly. Most of our legislators equate funding with "throwing more money at it." Perhaps they would rather call volunteer missionaries to teach our children instead of professionally trained and certified college graduates.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    May 10, 2013 4:44 p.m.

    As a parent and a public school teacher I believe we need to take great care in requiring more time from children of strong families and good parents. Sometimes it seems healthy families are at the mercy of those families that need extra efforts by public schools to fill in the gaps weather socially or academically. Competent or not, parents are ultimately responsible for their kids education and work in partnership with school teachers. If this were not the case teachers could decide what kids should be on medication or tested for Special Education.

    I believe public education can and should help those children from struggling families, but not at the expense of functioning ones.

  • IFish4Fun Clearfield, UT
    May 10, 2013 3:49 p.m.

    Why not make the schools go standard 8 hr. day, 5 days per week, and year round, with an option for 3 weeks vacation to be scheduled by parents/guardians. Seems like that solves the problems of: 1) time to cover all the materials needed; 2) increased employment opportunities by providing someone besides teachers to have summer part-time jobs; 3)eliminating mishchief laden idleness by providing youth with something to do in the summertime since jobs at their age are scarce or non-existant; and 4) helping parents cope by providing a state funded baby sitting service for those 2 working parents that seem to be disengaged from the educational system anyway.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 7, 2013 9:38 p.m.

    @docport1:

    Our children today are living with surveillance, accountability, and having someone plan their daily lives. It amazes me how people except this.

  • nanato12 Spanish Fork, UT
    May 6, 2013 10:16 p.m.

    Instead of tacking on more hours, which would mean less time outdoors playing and learning from other activities, let's get rid of "early out days", useless activities, making teachers teach to the test and teach all the crap they have to teach to be politically correct. If we went back to the basics and gave teachers the time to teach and trained children to be respectful students, a lot more learning would happen!!! As a preschool teacher, I have parents who want a 5 day preschool program. Absolutely not-children need time to be children. We have a 3 day or 2 day 2 1/2 hour program and we manage to teach them a lot. Probably because we are a private preschool and we do not have to jump through the government hoops. I say a big NO to longer school days.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 6, 2013 9:41 p.m.

    Mr. Jarvis, I believe arts, music and P.E. need to be part of the regular day. If this program is implemented I see these things becoming enrichment activities. I see these things as important, nearly as much as reading at the elementary age level. We have a country full of obese people watching Duck Dynasty thinking this is culture. Reading is only good if there is meaningful things to read. The problem with the NCLB Act and test score emphasis is that three subjects (Math, Science and English) are dominating the curriculum, to the detriment of other things. I think these other things are important (because I hear the cry now that the three R's is all that schools should be doing), but study after study has shown that music, art and even physical exercise helps students learn the three R's better. Music and math go together well. But what I fear again is that the regular school day just becomes three subjects and everything else gets relegated to the longer school day "enrichment time." I think this would be a detriment. Plus as I said before, I want to spend more time with my children!

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 6, 2013 7:31 p.m.

    There are couple of simple solutions to the so called education problem.

    Number one quit trying to make schools everything for everyone. Our state legislators every single year submit over 200 bills related to education and pass at least 100 of them. Lets return our schools to educational institutions not political footballs.

    Second hold parents accountable. Sorry but it is not the minority of parents, or only the parents in low socio-economic areas that want the schools to do everything, it is the majority of the parents in this supposed family first state. Parents need to have some responsibility for their children beyond conception and birthing.

    Third make the students accountable for their own education. Currently students have no accountability whatsoever for their own education. If they misbehave in class their needs to be a consequence, if they don't come to class their needs to be a consequence. If they don't learn their is a consequence and it needs to become theirs, not the teachers.

    Fourth, how about we try the old approach to education that worked fifty years ago, let the educators (the experts) determine what needs to be taught and how it needs to be taught.

  • BYUtah Fan Herriman, UT
    May 6, 2013 3:39 p.m.

    Standard government response - "The program is failing, so let's do more of it."

  • LoveTheNews Centerville, UT
    May 6, 2013 1:54 p.m.

    Sure, I believe that learning takes time, but quality time not time wasted. If we concentrate on effective teaching, students would be fine with 6 hours of schooling, like they do in Germany and other parts of Europe. Last time I checked, their students are not undereducated.
    Whenever I hear calls for longer school hours and more school days, I can't help but think that a lot of these demands are not actually motivated by creating a better learning situation but simply to keep kids busy because more and more parents are working and students would go home to an empty house.
    The problem with that is, that those kids who have parents who look forward when their precious children finally come home from school will be either punished or disinfranchised by a system that caters to keep kids busy.
    The solution as I see it is to focus on teaching during regular school hours and make social events optional after hours.

  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    May 6, 2013 12:23 p.m.

    Did people read the same article I did?

    The added school time was used as a period of enrichment. It was also a time when kids could work on their homework, engage in the arts or do what others would consider after school activities. It was not time given to additional instruction on the primary subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic. When kids did the three Rs, it was through tutoring.

    Our Charter school would appreciate an extra two hours each day as there isn't enough time to fit in all the activities to make learning more memorable. If we had the funding we would make sure every child had music, PE and art daily for one of those hours, and another hour with activities centered around what we are learning in History and Science. We always end the year wishing we had had more time to cover everything.

  • SS MiddleofNowhere, Utah
    May 6, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    All this sounds like is more of parents trying to pawn off their children to schools for free day care. They don't want the responsibility of being an active part of their children's life or stimulating their growth, they want tax money to substitute for the supervision of their children.

    @Obama 10, there are SOME lazy teachers, but that's a pathetic excuse for the PLETHORA of lazy parents out there.

  • Rational Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    I remember being exhausted at the end of the school day when I was a grade schooler.

    Flexible programs, maybe, but what I don't understand is why every industry in our society is more efficient, but schools are less? Why don't we shoot for efficiency and worry about child care for those who don't have a parent waiting for them separately.

  • docport1 ,
    May 6, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    Having spent 43 years in the classroom I can tell you more time in the classroom doesn't make for smarter kids. A class size of 20 is the best answer for improving education. It's also a matter of priorities. No Child Left Behind and standardized testing are the culprits of today's lack of quality time in a classroom. More physical education and fine arts are the secret ingredients to expanding a child's mind....not more busy work. In the 40s, 50s and 60s we went to school the same amount of time as happens now and look at the advances this country has enjoyed from those students.

  • Obama10 SYRACUSE, UT
    May 6, 2013 10:54 a.m.

    We don't need longer days, we need more effective teachers. There are many great teachers out there, but as I talk with my kids and their friends about school, I am amazed at the amount of "lazy" teaching that happens in Jr. High and High school. Many stories about a teacher putting on a video and then checking her Facebook account or texting. Just last Friday, my Nephew was complaining about a "librarian" who was teaching them about writing reports and "teaching" things he learned in 6th grade; he is now a Sophomore. My favorite was a teacher telling kids how to email. These kids don't email, they text, twitter, and snapchat. The kids could have shown the "teacher" the latest in technology. I still can't figure out the "late start" on Tuesday, or early out on Friday, or all of the "teacher prep" days. We don't need longer days. We need teachers to be more effective and efficient with the time they have been given.

  • common twit Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2013 9:08 a.m.

    I find it interesting that when people talk about education and learning, they usually talk about more time. Some of the above posts get it. They understand that more time does not necessarily mean better learning. In my perfect world, we would go less hours in the day. We would probably take less time off in the summer. We would follow the data on what helps kids learn. Some of those are, later starting time, high order thinking classes early in the day and taking arts classes. What most people don't understand is that students in the arts score much higher on testing that the rest of the school population. By arts, I mean band, choir, painting, dancing. I am told that in a high school near me that nearly have of the advanced art students are also in calculus.
    This might be something to think about.

  • DavidMiller Bountiful, UT
    May 6, 2013 9:03 a.m.

    There are certainly children who can benefit from more time in school. They are most likely to be found in areas of low socioeconomic status. I think kimnprovo hit the nail on the head. The solution is not to extend school days or school years for everyone. The solution should focus more on helping families to prioritize their time together. Even when we do that there will be needs that can be met through some social programs but they should be voluntary - not mandatory - and they should be secondary to encouraging families to address the problem rather than trying to replace the primacy of families simply because some families are dysfunctional.

    Even though antibiotics are effective against specific diseases we have learned that overusing them has significant, long-term negative effects. Turning to school to solve problems resulting from broken families may bring short-term gains or help in specific situations but when overused it will make the problems worse and more widespread.

  • Runner Chandler, AZ
    May 6, 2013 8:29 a.m.

    I agree with the first post here. The length of the school day is probably just fine, but what happens during that day is where the problem is. UT schools should adopt a more, back to basics approach. If kids want to learn musicals and dramatics, that's great, let the family support that in the home. The schools can even encourage it by having talent assemblies, etc., but they don't have to teach it. The schools should focus more on the fundamental disciplines such as Reading, Grammer, US & World history (not UT history), Science, Math, and Languages/Cultures. With that type of focus, there really isn't room for advisory time, plays, and needless assemblies.

    Let the schools focus on what they are trained to do and let the families teach what they would like to do.

  • kimnprovo Orem, UT
    May 6, 2013 8:15 a.m.

    Something I am always wary of is the phrase "early results are promising". That is research speak for "we want to do more testing because we have no definitive answers and want to keep studying".

    I absolutely believe; however, that they are seeing success in the inner-city schools. I don't necessarily believe it's from additional learning though. We don't need Harvard research to tell any parent or teacher that when extra attention is paid to a child they flourish.

    Imagine children with little, if any, support at home (for whatever reason). Now that child has more time at school where she has a teacher encouraging her for nearly two extra hours each day. Of course there would be some immediate increase in engagement with the child. That doesn't mean extended hours are going to be beneficial to all children in all areas of the country.

    Something I'm curious about... funding... how exactly is funding being "found" for such changes? What I would really hate to see would be that such funding would be found only to have it become free babysitting for neglegent parents.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 6, 2013 8:09 a.m.

    Children are people. Must their whole waken day be managed?

    On top of more hours, some moron will mandate a couple hours of homework to go along with it.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 6, 2013 7:54 a.m.

    More time? You have to be kidding! There is no way in the world that more time in school is going to do anything but diminish overall scores, diminish family time, and diminish individuals. The family is central to a stable society, not school! 'School' it is too, instead of education! The government can only promote 'school', instead of 'learning', something schools increasingly don't promote with ad infinitum tests,assessments,and measurements. Increasingly, the ability to even 'educate' a student is being replaced by government measurement devices that only want to manage and control what they don't know much about, only to submit it to a naive public that in many cases could care less what is taking place (Just keep my kid out of my hair for 10 hours a day while I pretend to doing what is important)! More school is just another attempt to throw up a white flag at the 'education' of our children. Quit patronizing human beings that have the capacity to direct their own destiny, only to be thwarted in the attempt by a lethargic system that keeps wanting to turn 'school' into a massive babysitting tool.

  • The Dixie Kid Saint George, UT
    May 6, 2013 6:15 a.m.

    How about longer school years instead of longer hours. Summer break is way too long.

  • Coach P Provo, UT
    May 5, 2013 10:52 p.m.

    Sometimes less is more. As a coach I've learned that if it isn't done in two hours it isn't going to be done. I'm not saying school should be two hours but the concept is that making school longer might be counterproductive. I mean we could make the school day 12 hours and do non-stop teaching English, Math, Science etc. but I'm not sure it would get better results, let alone be humane for the children.

  • Kralon HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA
    May 5, 2013 10:14 p.m.

    I have my doubts about simply expanding the school length. I would be more interested in trying to better use the time in school. My nine-year-old is going to one of the top ten elementary schools in Utah (by test scores) and their state testing is done, so are homework assignments. But, she still has three plus weeks of school left, she says she isn't being taught anything new and they now aren't reviewing for tests. From her point of view (that I just heard about last Friday) there is no more learning and while she might be incorrect it does lead to a discussion about better use of school time.

    Of course, I haven't spoken with her teacher yet, but it seems to me that you can always improve in anything you do, so I would be pushing for improvement with the time allotted rather than looking to add more time.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 5, 2013 9:22 p.m.

    Most adults don't like sitting still seven to eight hours a day.

    From my observance, students do most of their learning from morning till lunch. After that, it becomes a battle.

    IMO, school should go 8:00 AM to 1:00PM, four days a week. Students need time to explore, and build creativity on their own. Learning in school supplements what they do with their independent time.

    It worked for Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and many others.

    And yes! Get rid of those controlling tests.

  • Laura Ann Layton, UT
    May 5, 2013 9:22 p.m.

    I can tell you this: At about 3:00 pm, your students, in elementary school, are much harder to teach. They are just plain burned out for the day. I believe there should be a longer school year with the same amount of hours. Kids can only take so much in before they start to flag, along with the teacher.

  • Dr. Felger Heber, UT
    May 5, 2013 8:13 p.m.

    The article seems to go along with the misguided notion that longer school days (or school year) would result in better educated students. Perhaps, the author could research why Finland does much better academically than the US, yet doesn't have long school days. It's quite possibly that the students in the US have other interests than being treated as political pawns.

  • RunAmuckMom Salt Lake City, UT
    May 5, 2013 8:06 p.m.

    Considering the amount of latchkey kids today, this is a wonderful, productive, proactive idea. Yes, children should be spending more "quality" time WITH their families but, realistically the statistics for families that really do this is slim. The educational quality of children is suffering and the pressures for teachers to squeeze in more material in the same 6 1/2 hour time slot has increased. The nation's response to this in the past was to hold teachers solely responsible for the children's retention and performance on national standardized testing. Something needs to change, our 6 1/2 hr school day is equivalent to the first IBM 8-bit computer. We need to upgrade and update our nation's time allotted for education. Keep in mind, REALISTICALLY, what time most parents get home from their daily duties and truly how much time they take to unwind and prepare to be with their families. Adding 2 more hours to a school day is really not a lot of sacrifice for the investment return on our nation's future and their families.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 5, 2013 8:01 p.m.

    To King's Court:

    I'm a believer in after school programs that feature play, learning arts, music and sports and other extracurricular things. Young people need these outlets. But I also believe these should not be mandatory but some mechanism set up to make them voluntary and properly funded. Many schools have these things already.

    Since I actually want to parent my children and luckily my wife and I are still married and educated, we would like to spend more time with our actual children. But we also support public schools and their functions and try to be involved. We even desire our children to be involved in extracurricular activities of their choice. But I am against extra time to be spent for math and English. Enough already! And I don't want other subjects cut out or be part of the extended day. Again, I support using our schools, as many are now used, for extracurricular activities, tutoring etc. but a formal extended day I think is not the way to go.

    And as much as I do support the schools and teachers, my wife and I still see ourselves as the primary teacher of our children.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    May 5, 2013 7:44 p.m.

    Having longer school days could be helpful to families that don't have a good arrangement for children when school is not in session, but it is a poor solution to the problem. These children need activity, help with homework, outdoor time, and a safe place to be, but not more classroom time. And those children who can be with their families should be there. I am a former teacher and I cannot strongly enough state that a school day should not be any longer. In the long run it would be counter-productive.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    May 5, 2013 6:39 p.m.

    Howard, it is noble that you expect parents to function as good parents, but in the real world, that is not happening, especially in high poverty areas. Many kids have only one parent in the home or two parents that work. Those parents either cannot afford to provide quality enrichment time for their kids or are too busy or tired at the end of each school day (assuming they come home during the hours their children are home). The number one predictor of student achievement is the educational attainment of the mother. The number two predictor is the social status of a student's parents. I ran my own data sets on Honors or AP Course enrollment in a local Utah secondary school (picked at random) and discovered that 85% of students enrolled come from stable homes and upper-middle class and higher backgrounds. The results were shocking and verifies what this article is talking about. Students who come from lower socio-economic neighborhoods were further behind their peers and less likely to engage in challenging course work.

    At some point schools need to step in to help these students, because they will never get it at home.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 5, 2013 4:59 p.m.

    To preface my comments, I just want to say I support our schools and teachers as evidenced in previous posts.

    However, I think there are some limitations to this idea.

    First, I think young children need to spend more time with their families, not less.

    Second, schools aren't the only sources for education for a child. Students can learn when their parents can take them to other classes, museums, performances etc. I know for some this doesn't happen in their families but for others they take advantage of this time and great teaching and learning takes place.

    Third, we need to end the testing. That is the real problem here.

    Fourth, are we willing to pay teachers more to do this? IMO, they deserve more for what they do now.

    Fifth, Similar to #2, I think students can learn valuable things through play, through participation in organized sports, music and other artistic endeavors. I think students can learn lots of things though civic organizations, church organizations and scouting.

    Finally, I don't think school should be a 8-hour job and I don't think schools should be used as daycare providers and this seems to smack of this.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    May 5, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    As a counterpoint to what was said in the article, less classroom time is a trend in Utah schools. Programs such as advisory, more frequent and longer assemblies, late starts for various reasons, more sports that pull kids out of class early, all tend to be the new norm. It seems that academics no longer matters.

    We hire teachers to teach. They should be granted the time to do their jobs. We as parents should discourage programs that diminish classroom time.