I mentioned in my story on school stimulus money that San Diego Unified has been floating the idea of making the school year longer at the neediest schools. It’s an idea that cycles in and out of favor among reformers and can run up against fierce resistance from parents, students and employees who don’t want to tinker with the schedule. Here is a quick roundup of some opinions from folks I interviewed on a longer year:
- David Page, a parent who oversees a San Diego Unified committee on funding for disadvantaged students, gave the idea a thumbs up. “If the school year is longer you can’t opt out,” unlike summer school, Page said. “We have one of the shortest schedules in the world as far as teaching. There needs to be a way to extend the year so you have to attend.”
- Paula Cordeiro, dean of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego, was lukewarm. “I would not choose that one at this time,” Cordeiro said. “I feel like we should always be investing in people. If we have more time but you have the same people doing the same work over more time —” She paused. “I’d rather help people grow and be more effective at their work.”
- Richard Barrera, a member of the San Diego Unified school board, wanted to put the question to the schools. “There is certainly a lot of good thinking in the notion that especially with kids who are learning English, a long summer break is not helpful. You don’t want to break the rhythm of kids as they’re progressing,” he said. But he added a cautionary note: “I heard a parent the other night from Memorial Middle School say that it might make sense, but if all you’re doing is the same thing for a longer period of time, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
If you want to be even nerdier than me, here are a few studies where you can learn more. They come from different periodicals and think tanks with differing missions:
- The Phi Delta Kappan is skeptical.
- On the Clock from Education Sector rounds up some of the research.
- And the Phi Delta Kappan is skeptical again.
- A quick and slightly dated digest from the Educational Resources Information Center.