The idea of Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton going on tour together boggles the mind. (Though I do recall having seen Gordon Liddy and Timothy Leary do a psycho/schizo duet back in the 80s.). But apparently this is serious and includes Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education.
Well the first stop on the tour is in Philadelphia tomorrow (September 29, 2009); and Duncan, possibly prompted by being surrounded with people who don't hesitate to speak their minds, has advocated for longer school days. As a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer states
Six hours a day just doesn't cut it,said Duncan, who comes to town tomorrow to tour two city schools and meet with local education officials.Our school calendar's based on a 19th century agrarian economy. I'm sure there weren't too many kids in Philadelphia working in their parents' fields this summer.
This simple truth points to one of the most obvious things we can do to improve education in the US. We know that children spend more time in school each year in other OECD countries. And we know that children (particular poor children) are helped by longer school days and a longer school year. And if I didn't have to work on my homework, I would look up the sources for my assertions here.
As a prospective teacher, it is not in my personal interest to have longer school days and a longer school year. I'd love to come up with an excuse to advocate against these; but I can't. The facts (which I really will try to cite in an update) are clear. When so many ideas for improving education in America have mixed research behind them, it is nice to have something that is so clear cut.
I need to return to my teacher training homework now; so this posting stops here.