I was just on an interview for a job I would love to have. One of the questions I was asked was about the working hours: would I mind working the longer hours this new school would schedule. What struck me is that it needed to be asked at all: there are many, many reasons why extended school time is needed today.
Before I continue, these are MY opinions from what I’ve observed in the field (I have taught as a Teacher, Teaching Artist and as a Substitute Teacher); I’ve left you five links above for others on the subject. Object if you must, but do so with justifications and always keep it civil.
I have heard from too many educators that there is just not enough time in the school day to accomplish all that must be done. I’ve experienced it myself: you just get things going, and they have to rush to another class instead of investing the time needed t o really explore. I’m not talking about busy work, which I have seen in an abundance. Actual student engaging moments get cut short many times.
We have a shrinking teacher base, due to budget cuts in places there should not be budget cuts. Classrooms are overcrowded. Tests and evaluations and rote “learning” practices shove aside a real chance for connections and actual learning.
Yes, we should have more teachers, more classrooms, and less students per class.
With the changing economic realities, parents are not always home until later in the day. The idea of Mom always being home after school is antiquated in many parts of the US; that has changed, but the schools have not changed with the times. There are after school clubs and such already in place; but again, the idea for a longer day is not just social activities (which they do need to foster as well, since much of home life gets truncated that way).
Double blocks of teaching (80 to 90 mins) during the day gives the teacher and the class to work on projects. The time constraints we have now means that there are only three classes per day that way. A longer day would allow more constructive work.
Advisory meetings, portfolio work, special projects that have a true impact and are not busy work (again, seen too much of that), planning sessions; individualized work (NOT study halls: I saw, in one location, 12 students on computers playing Halo in study hall; not making that up, and it was not my place to stop them)…there is so much that can be accomplished with proper time use.
The long summer breaks were originally set up by agricultural needs: farmer kids needed to work on the farm. School came second.
Education should not come second in anything we do.