Sunday, January 23, 2011
Last Stand for Children First pushes for an American education reform
School Day: 4 hour days the first two years to up to as many as 6 hours in high school
School Year: 190 Days
Beginning School Age: 7
Private Schools: Very Few
Teacher Autonomy: Extensive
PE: 3-4 times per week
Recess: Mandatory for about an hour per day
Homework: About half as much as American students
Standardized Tests: None
It is clear that if we do not do something to catch up with Finland, they will soon be our overlords. It is not hard to imagine with their geographical location that they could resurrect the old Soviet Union with themselves at the helm and restart the Cold War.
So how do we catch up with the Fins? By using a uniquely American model. From doing extensive research, we have come up with what we believe is a quintessential American way to establish our security over the Fins once again.
The American System
School Day: 9 and a half hours (KIPP)
School Year: Average Up to 255 (Duncan and Obama)
Beginning School Age: 3 (LS4C1)
Private Schools: Expand school choice with charters and vouchers (Mitch Daniels)
Unionization: Eliminated (Tennessee)
Teacher Autonomy: None (American Prospect)
PE: Not Necessary (Duncan)
Recess: Not Necessary (Many)
Homework: Increased (Rauch)
Standardized Tests: Extensive (Various)
This American Systems is the perfect balance for today's students. In our 9 and a half hour day and longer school year devoid of time wasting PE and recess, our students will get over 3 times more direct instruction than students in Finland. While, this will cost more money, savings can easily be derived from putting more students into classes and by eliminating teachers unions.
There is no reason that a 7 year old student, shouldn't have a longer day and less days off than his working parents because he would not have to deal with adult stress. A man that I rarely agree with Steven Krashen professor emeritus (That's edubabble for semi-retired, but still paid like a contributor) at the University of Southern California, extolled the virtues of a twenty-one hour school day in a recent Washington Post article stating:
"A study published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results in 1991 concluded that a 21-hour school day is optimal, with continuous classes and no breaks, except for two breaks for meals and one lavatory visit.
Among the many advantages would be fewer discipline problems and quieter classrooms because of sleep deprivation, which "lessened the students' rebellious impulses."
I have long been a fan of JIR since their article showing that TFA teachers far surpassed their more experienced colleagues because of a youthful energy. I have unfortunately been unable to find that particular 20 year old study. However, a thorough research study on the advantages of mass sleep deprivation on a classroom setting would be a very welcome addition to the conversation on school reform.