Said Duncan to an AP reporter:
“Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here. I want to just level the playing field.”
But with one big difference.
The American school day is much longer on average, than school days in European and Asian countries. Schools may be open for 38 or 40 (or in the case of Denmark, 42) weeks in other countries, but the number of instructional hours per year is by and large lower than in America.
So the solution, apparently, is to extend the school day even more and case studies tend to support this. Charter schools, for instance:
“Charter schools are known for having longer school days or weeks or years. For example, kids in the KIPP network of 82 charter schools across the country go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than three hours longer than the typical day. They go to school every other Saturday and for three weeks in the summer. KIPP eighth-grade classes exceed their school district averages on state tests.”
In other words, not the typical American school child.
I think people are missing the point. In this case more is not necessarily better. America is one of the world leaders in the length of the school day. Japan, despite having a longer instructional school year, has 200 fewer hours per year of instruction. Yet Japanese students outperform American students in standardized tests.
More is not better.
The problem is not instructional time. The problem is instructional quality. The problem is how a teacher is regarded in these various countries.
The problem is an attitude toward teachers that one size fits all. That any old teacher can teach any old subject seamlessly. And more to the point, because of this attitude, teachers are not well-regarded in America.
Quality teaching occurs when you have quality teachers, not poorly paid baby sitters.
One hand washes the other.