Another quick note on stimulus money: San Diego Unified Superintendent Terry Grier and federal education chief Arne Duncan are singing the same tune about lengthening the school year. Grier and his staff are batting around that idea as a potential use of stimulus dollars, focusing on the lowest performing schools. Here is a snippet from an Associated Press story where Duncan lays out his views to a less-than-sympathetic audience:

“Go ahead and boo me,” Duncan told about 400 middle and high school students at a public school in northeast Denver. “I fundamentally think that our school day is too short, our school week is too short and our school year is too short.”

Ironically, this idea is gaining favor at the same time that San Diego Unified has proposed slashing the school year to save money. Cutting four days of school is estimated to save more than $16.5 million for the district. The plan has to be negotiated with labor unions. The irony was not lost on school board member John de Beck, who has backed the idea of cutting the school year even more to save money.

“What a joke!” de Beck said of the idea of lengthening the school year. He called the federal push for innovation in the midst of the economic crisis “almost unrealistic,” adding, “I’m thrilled at the idea, but we can’t afford to do the days we already have.”

Longing for more info on a longer school year? You can check out some of the research and read more about how some of the major players in San Diego education feel about the idea of lengthening the school year here.

EMILY ALPERT

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