Many educators and parents support the notion of an extended school year, thinking it will help bring U.S. students up to par academically with kids in other countries. Even President Barack Obama advocated more school in a September 2010 appearance on television's "Today" show. Despite some support, common complaints about cost, efficiency and negative attitudes have prevented a massive movement toward extended school as of 2013.
The costs to extend the school year are significant, and have served as a major deterrent to politicians pursuing such a move. A Winter 2010 "Education Next" article reflected on recent projections in the state of Minnesota showing an estimated cost increase of $750 million to go from a 175-day to a 200-day school year. Increased utility usage, higher teacher salaries and more materials and supplies would all contribute to higher education costs.
Critics contend that extending the school year may serve as a Band-Aid to the deeper educational issue of poor quality. A 2009 study by the Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation at the University of Southern Maine noted that a longer school day may actually produce more benefits than a longer school year. Schools and teachers already struggling to implement quality instruction and make complete use of each day would likely have a hard time efficiently using extra days.
Though they would likely adapt after a while, students and some faculty would certainly have negative attitudes initially toward an extended school year. A June 2009 "USA Today" article reviewed the results of several charter school programs with extended school years. While positive results were noted, students, faculty and administrators at 39 under-performing schools in the Miami-Dade area of Florida indicated feeling burnout and fatigue. Additionally, good students sometimes construed the extended school year as a punishment.
Family Travel and Tourism Impact
Others criticize an extended school year for its repercussions on family travel and tourism. The "Education Next" article noted that families have expressed concern that expanding the school year into the summer would impede vacations and family time. Cities that rely on students and families for tourism and leisure revenue during the summer would feel the pinch if the window of opportunity in the summer is narrowed.
- Education Next: Time for School?
- U.S. News & World Report: Obama Suggests Extending School Year
- Poynter: Arguments for and Against Longer School Years
- USA Today: Kids Reap Benefits of Long School Year
- Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation University of Southern Maine: Extended School Year Fast Facts
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