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September 30th, 2009
10:30 AM ET

Do kids need more time in classrooms?

Shorter summer breaks... 9-hour school days...

Kids may hate it, but President Obama argues American students are way behind compared to students in other countries. He says longer school days and a longer school year is a way to level the playing field. CNN's Alina Cho reports.

Filed under: Education
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Skye

    I agree totally that there needs to be some reform and maybe some increase in class time will help, but that is only the tip of the ice burg. I went to a high school in DeSoto county Mississippi which is one of the fastest growing places in the entire country, but the diversity of classes was pitiful. There were hardly any foreign language classes or AP classes even offered, business classes were limited we didn't even have economics. My sister goes to the same school and she has to leave for school at 6:45 am that is a problem to classes that early seem to be ineffective to me and classes are overcrowed and understaffed.

    March 22, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  2. Darian sather

    no year round school. but im only 11.

    November 16, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  3. Kelly Chang

    No they don't necessarily need more time in the classroom, what they need is the highest quality of teachers. Quality over quantity. This is what is wrong with us (The US), bigger is not better, more is less. Just because you force a child to sit in a classroom for 20 hours a day doesn't mean they become better students or better educated. Right now our kids feel like they are wasting their time and are mostly unmotivated by their studies.

    October 5, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  4. Mitchell

    Hey guys....the MESSIAH has spoken. Why are some of the mindless sheep actually starting to open their eyes and question what his devineness is doing. Look at what else he has done and the things he wants to do.

    October 1, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  5. wade / Canada

    That is a No Brainer, Absolutely, As the President had said repeatedly, if the U.S. as well as Canada are going to be equipped on the World's Stage there must be more time dedicated to studies such a Math and science. Children spend far to much time playing video games and other nonsense. Children rarely play outside anymore so they do not develop good social skills also necessary to excel in life and become successful, However a large part of the problem is the parents that are so focused on themselves, that there children do not get the attention that children require, respect and morals do not get instilled in today's youth. Society needs to wise up take responsibility to raise there kids right, or just don't have any, children are malleable little people and require care guidance, and love. If you are unable to provide these things, don't even consider a pet!

    October 1, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  6. Robert

    I think the issue is that there are alot of illegitamate parents out there. Just popping out babies like crazy. If parents would stop being so worried about themselves and teach their children to be learners. Lazy parents that probably should'nt have had children are just dragging up their babies instead of raising them and grooming them for the world. More time will not help if the parents don't take away the games and screens..replace them with books and time together.

    October 1, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  7. Rowena

    I don't think that increasing the time spent in school will help the educational system here in the United States. The quality of education matters the most. My son is in the sixth grade now and what I have noticed with the educational system is the abrupt change of the manner education is delivered between elementary and middle school. Its like the 6th grade students are all of a sudden rushed to learn fast wherein in elementary school, the kids had a grand time , less homeworks and schoolwork , that sometimes makes the kids lose the momentum to learn. I am from the Philippines and I think the only time I remember about playing was in kindergarten. Everything after that is all work in school, homework and a consistent upgrade in the topics discussed in school and this system runs up to college. I think the biggest change in the school system should start from elementary schools, to start molding the children, getting them started by delivering more knowledge, like spelling, writing in cursive, teachers school planning to expand. How many times have I seen the bulletin boards in my son's school with pictures and a caption with a lot of mispelled words. Yes kids are kids, but it is the responsibility of the teachers to correct them so that the kids wouldn't say that it didnt matter. A year round school would be great, if the delivery of education would scale up..otherwise it would be just a waste. Also the cost of college education should scale down a bit, so that the dreams of the children would not be just a dream, or an unreachable star , and that is a good motivating factor for them.

    September 30, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  8. Lakeitha Robinson

    I dont think kids should have to go to school all year round. I was a high school student once and I know I needed my breaks when it came down to them.I believe that the children will stop coming to school and stop doing their school work. I think President Obama should leave the school system just like it is before he have a lot of highschool drop outs on his hands and it will be all his fault. I am a big Obama supporter also, but I dont agree with him on this one.

    September 30, 2009 at 9:32 pm |
  9. Terry

    I don’t have a problem with a shorter summer break or even having year round schools, but a longer school day is not the way to go. I had the opportunity to teach in China and the school I taught at had classes/required after school study hall from 7:00am-10:00pm, Monday-Saturday and 7:00am-1:00pm on Sundays. These students lost valuable time to interact with other children outside the school day thus weakening their interpersonal skills. At some point, we need to understand that a score on a standardized test doesn’t necessarily tell us how well our schools or our children are actually doing. Education is much more than choosing A, B, C or D.

    September 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  10. Regina

    I hope that the Secretary of Education has a bigger plan for the school systems in this country than longer days and a longer school year. The education system's biggest issues are not the number of hours or the number of days there are in a school year. While ultiimately it may be a worthwhile solution for many students (obviously not the small number of gifted, high achieving high school students–which by the way, will survive regardless of the changes because they have the ability to learn and adjust even in spite of the worst in my profession), adding time will not fix what is broken about our system. Our system is run by politics and parents. I am a middle school math teacher in North Carolina. I teach in a state that has both traditional and year round schools. I do not believe there has been much data that indicated that students at the year round schools scored better than traditional school students. I am a successful, strong teacher with a fairly strong resume and a good deal of parental support. I love teaching. I love middle school students. I love opening their minds to knew ideas and new ways of thinking. It is the thing that keeps me going back every day. It is not the politics of education. It is not the parents like the ones in the story you ran about Black History Month and the Obama song. I am sure there was a well-meaning teacher that wanted students to learn and enjoy it through a song. That one event that those children will not connect with 5 years from now became a national story. That story is not politics in schools although parents seem to think it is. Complaining parents drained time, energy, and resources from that school as school personnel had to investigate, examine, explain, defend what occurred. While I don't know the teacher, I would bet chanting and brainwashing children was not even a consideration. The kids won't remember it 5 years from now, but that teacher will. The parents probably changed his or her perspective forever. Parents, their agendas exist in our schools. Politics exist in the school system–but it isn't truly about democrats or republicians–there are agendas and there is power involved. Politicians will be addressing the issues in the education system–but perhaps, they should walk a week in our shoes and listen to the people in the front lines before they start throwing money at or throwing band aid solutions that never get to the real issues.

    September 30, 2009 at 8:47 pm |
  11. daryl

    Lea – The Teachers Union is destroying the educational system. I am a HUGE supporter of alternative forms of education (private schools, charter schools, homeschooling, etc.). What would I hope to achieve by getting rid of the Teachers Union? A great school system. One that isn't a slave to the Union and their demands (teachers in my district make twice the average household income). One that holds teachers accountable (it is in the contract that teachers can not be fired for poor performance). One that doesn't increase my property tax whenever teachers threaten to strike (also in the contract that teachers get across the board raises and bonuses not based on merit). And most importantly – One that cares about the education of students and doesn't follow the union mentality of what is in it for me and how can I find new ways to live off the hog?

    September 30, 2009 at 7:14 pm |
  12. Lea

    I am a high school reading teacher. This is a complicated situation with no easy answer. Another alternative might be encouraging year round school – since students historically do not retain previously taught material over the summer.
    I'd like to ask Daryl – what do you hope to achieve by eliminating the teacher's union? Ask any teacher what they think of No Child Left Behind and see what the reponse is..........blaming the union is not he answer.

    September 30, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  13. Richard

    Something needs to be done, that's for sure, but is adding hours to a school day schedule that is obviously not working, the answer? Adding more hours to a system that is already proving not to be working isn't going to fix anything. They need to look into the way the school's are teaching what they already are now teaching. Check with teachers and get their input, not fixing the problem from some politician sitting behind a desk who really has no idea what is going on in the actual class.
    In my son's school, for example, they spend 3 month's out of every year, reviewing advanced math, from 5th grade on, until 8th grade, when he will actually learn the remainder of the course..adding that together, that's an entire year of a subject that is wasted that could be used for something more productive. Even test shown, that every year, they math class student's do not remember what was taught until well into the 2nd month of the class!!.
    That and more hand's on, doing what is being taught instead of just sitting in the class has been proven not only to teach the children more, but help them remember it better, My 5 yr old has had experience digging for fossil at a local archeological dig site, and when he entered Kindergarten class, when they started learning about dinosaur's, apparently impressed the teacher's so much with his knowledge of the subject, thing's which were not even being taught yet, raised such inspiration in his teachers, they called us and asked how we got him to learn so much at his age, things that are not taught until 4th and 5th grade level's.
    Instead of sitting in a class and adding more hour's, make the hour's spent there more productive by changing what is being done there, interview teacher's for their input and see what is and is not working, and definitely, stop blaming them for the problem. Especially since they are only teaching the kid's lesson's about things that are passed down to them from the Board of Education on what can and cannot be taught. But Alas, it's all politics and since the politician's will not be making money doing it the proper way, our children will continue to suffer.

    September 30, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Alana

    First of all, Obama needs to do his research beyond the numbers. The United States educational system is flawed in it's standardized testing regulations. Schools are required to test ALL students with the exact same test. By all I am including the special education students, children in learning support, academic, honors, and AP classes. Now, if you compare these student's scores to that of other nations we will be lower no matter how long the classes are. Want to know why? Those other countries' regulations are to choose what students are tested. If you had a choice wouldn't you pick the highest ranking students in the nation? That is precisely what happens. For instance, In China a small elite group of students are the only kids required to take the standardized tests. So regardless of what the hours of a school day are or number of school days in a year, the United States' students' scores will always fall short. Secondly I am a junior this year in high school. I am an AP/honors student, in the top 10% of my 750 student class, and president of my school's speech and debate team. Also I have a part-time job, a cheerleader, and log an average of 50 hours in community service each year. Longer school hours means less time for extracurricular activities, studying, helping my community, and assisting my single mother in supporting my two younger siblings. I'm not wonder woman but I do what I can. If we increase school hours students that have an already demanding schedule will suffer. Finally, extracurricular activities will be impossible to uphold. Aren't these activities proven to be a way to keep America's youth off drugs and out of trouble? What happens when student's are forced out of these healthy habits because of the extra time?
    I do not ask for your pity, I ask for you to listen to my opinion, educate yourself, and hopefully we'll get somewhere.

    September 30, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  15. Joel Boland

    Sure, I think it's a great idea. Let's do what we can to get them prepared for the overworked underpaid daily drone at as early as possible. I can't wait to see the 30 year lookback on this where we see stressed out overweight grey haired 15 year olds that are advanced scholastically, but have a decreased lifespan due to stressful sedimentary lifestyles.

    September 30, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  16. brian

    I highly recommend the book "Why Children Fail" (by John Holt) to anyone who buys into the idea that simply locking a child in a classroom for more hours per day is in any way beneficial.

    September 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  17. John

    Before deciding that "more is better," we need to optiize the very poorly used time presently availble AND greatly improve the very important informal education outsie of class.
    I'm a strong Obama supporter but while the administration has identified the problem, there is no way that doing more of the wrong things will address the priblem.

    September 30, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  18. daryl

    Honestly, the whole educational system needs a complete overhaul starting with the dissolution of the Teachers Union.

    September 30, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  19. Rishi

    Yes they do. cheaper than daycare and more enriching..

    September 30, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  20. jean

    Both my kids are AP students ! They don't have any extra time ! The requirements that it takes to get into good colleges are tough ! There is no extra time during the school week, weekend, not the summer : both have had to take required classes like PE during the summer to enable them to get the max academic courses on their schedule during the regular school year !... Then top it off with studying for SATs SAT 2 , National Tests.......! Weekends are full of studying ! Find another baysitter for your underachiever !

    September 30, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  21. Rishi

    Yes they do. heaper than daycare and more enriching..

    September 30, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  22. Katherine Felix

    I moved from the United States to the Caribbean when my two children were in grade school – one in Kindergarten, one in third grade.

    While most people in the States would consider the Caribbean to be Third World, in terms of education, the level of subjects taught here, and the time children spend in class is more demanding than in the Public Schools in the States.

    Children here get a bettter education, overall, than in the United States, a First World country, and really, I think that having children spend more time in school, to enable them to be more competitive internationally would be a good start, but the system itslef also needs to be adequaately funded, and looked at holistically to get the long term improvements – longer hours, less vacation, – yes- I think they are a good thing, but only a start.

    Not only for the USA- but for many places in the world.

    Japan is a better example, where most of the adult population is educated to the tertiary level- they stay in school much longer hours and are much more disciplined on average, but the culture is different in many other ways as well.

    I think that anything for our children to become more knowledgable, and employable in the future, should be supported, as long as balance of life is also maintained.

    September 30, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  23. Paul Maithya

    First let me start off by saying I'm a african american. 16 year old sophomore at green run high school in virginia beach. I play soccer for school and for a club. Personally I feel this is one of the worst ideas that Obama, which who i was for but slowly beginning to think twice, has come up with. Yes i understand that other children around the world are getting more time in class, and that can be to their advantage but there stil are tenagers al over the u.s that have jobs and other commitments they have after school & longer hours gets in the way of that completely. I can promise you that longer hours will resort in a increes of student drop out percentage, & you can take that to the bank.

    September 30, 2009 at 10:40 am |