February 27th, 2009
03:20 PM ET
9 years ago

Education chief favors longer school year

Education Secretary Arne Duncan suggests giving incentives to teachers whose students perform well.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan suggests giving incentives to teachers whose students perform well.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Those lazy days of summer may become a thing of the past if the new secretary of education has his way.

Arne Duncan, the Cabinet secretary charged with overhauling America's educational system, is studying programs that keep kids in school longer to boost their academic achievements.

"When I go out and talk about that, that doesn't always make me popular with students. They like the long summers," Duncan said in an interview Wednesday with CNN conducted in the Education Department's library.

But Duncan said American students are "at a competitive disadvantage" because the United States has shorter school years than other countries such as India and China.

"It doesn't matter how poor, how tough the family background, socioeconomic challenges," Duncan said. "Where students have longer days, longer weeks, longer years - that's making a difference."

More time in school is one of several ideas under consideration as Duncan settles into his new role.

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Filed under: Education • Obama administration
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. Accountability

    I absolutely agree...problem is...states are acutally cutting the school year as they can afford to pay for what they have now...where's the solution to that?

    February 27, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. yaaba

    Good, let them go for 12 months. It won’t hurt them and maybe they will stay out of trouble.

    February 27, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Todd

    Oh goodie! Let's fix this.

    Teachers don't get paid, or supported, as it is. States are stripping every possible resource (aides, music, references, etc) daily to make their budgets work – and I heard about a district today lowering EVERY PERSON in educations' pay 4%.

    Obama said in his speech accepting the nomination that it would be "out with the old, tired, lazy teachers" and in with a new breed of highly technical ones. Um, if you aren't paying them now – to get summers off – what makes you think that you'll find anyone willing to work more for less pay! I'm sorry, but educating kids is NOT that rewarding!

    Oh, yeah, as my point of reference, I left teaching a few years ago just so that I could find a job to support my family...

    February 27, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. Rick Sutter

    Well, this would cut down on day care costs. However, an extra month or two in a school dominated by the teachers' union and feds isn't going to make them any smarter or more competitive. Just take a look at some of the comments in the Ticker by those who claim to be teachers! Texas Teacher should be the poster child for our failed government school system.

    February 27, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. LIP

    Rather than talking about a longer school year for kids, we should be talking about all the kids that won't make it that far due to the fact they were aborted before they saw the light of day.
    The most recent take on this is Obama wants to rescind job protection for Doctors and Nurses who refuse to perform abortions for moral reasons. People will be judged on job availability because of "morals". I always thought that morals were good to have and I always thought that killing babies was immoral.
    Where will it end? Is this what Americans really want?

    February 27, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Mississippi Mike

    Actually, the quality of education is directly related to the funding of the Education Department. The more the Federal government intervenes, the lower the test scores get. Take a look at the slide our test scores have taken since the Carter administration created it and compare the declining scores to the increasing funds being poured into the Education Department. If Duncan really cared about increasing our test scores, he should dissolve the Education Department and resign. Problem solved.

    February 27, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    At least keep the low income students in school longer – keep them out of their gangs and trouble.

    February 27, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If we can get parents to help their kids understand and learn along with the teachers getting more pay and support (extra training, better buildings etc,) then I think we should do it. I would hope that corporate America would join in the idea of sponsoring schools and start tutoring programs. Things of that nature need to be done and aren't for some reason.

    February 27, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Susie Q

    I couldn't agree more. Children in this country spend way too much time in front of the T.V. and texting, getting fat and lazy.

    February 27, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Alan

    Yes, Mr Duncan, that is exactly what our children need. More time in our govt run schools.

    When are people going to realize that our children need parents – not more teachers.

    This is just amazing to me. We home school six children and I would never think of sending one of them into the mess that we call public schools.

    February 27, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Had It

    Sounds good to me – too many of the older children who don't work during the summer tend to get into trouble. Mandatory – go to school extra weeks or work for some sort of credit. Period.

    February 27, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. Jason

    I totally agree. Our children of America are flat out fat and lazy. They sit in front of TV set playing video games and gulping down a super sized 7/11 slurpy. Like kids in Japan they should go to school all year around. Maybe that way they won't be so lethargic.

    February 27, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. Michael

    Good for Secretary Duncan. How can we expect to produce young men and women ready for the 21st century when we are educating them in a system designed to produce farmers for the 19th century. Somehow we have to get over the love affair with our antiquated school system that is made even worse by the horrible fiscal management produced, on average, by local school boards. At the very least we need one set of national standards and to start holding school systems accountable to use their money in an effective and efficient manner.

    February 27, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Melissa

    Frankly, so do I.

    The state of American education is just disturbing.

    February 27, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. MurphyMorseJohnson

    A better educational system, not more time in the same old same old, will put our youth in a better competitive position.

    February 27, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. Jason L

    A longer year of school could be fine but not longer days.
    I think if it's a longer day and a child dosent want to be there for 8 let alone 9+ hours it's not going to do any good. If not create more drop outs every year.

    February 27, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. Sharon Northern Virginia

    Duncan, you sound like a very smart man. Four weeks is a good summer vacation for our children. Knowledge is the key, longer school year is one of the best ideas.

    February 27, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. ray ray

    That's a GREAT idea... we just increased the cost of education exponentially without effecting the QUALITY of education. Teachers' salaries are predicated on 9 months of teaching.

    Is this another pay-back to the union??

    And nooooo – let's NOT consider vouchers which give parents the financial power to send their kids to private schools .... you know... those SAME schools Obama sends his little girls.

    February 27, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. Brian Crooks

    I don't know if we need a longer school year, but my mom has been a teacher for over 25 years and would like to see us switch to year-round schooling. Something like 10 weeks on, 4 weeks off. That way, the kids' brains don't totally shut down for 3 month stretches, and they don't get so burned out in the marathon from January through June.

    February 27, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. AJ

    Is this better for the students or the parents? Most kids need time to regenerate and a longer school year will serve no ones interests but parents who dont want to be bothered worrying about child care during the normal summer vacation. This has nothing to do with boosting academic achievements.

    February 27, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Jindal lied about his Katrina story...it never happened.

    February 27, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. dustin

    just make sure we walk the line of preparing them for a future and not taking away their childhood.

    February 27, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. Making Money With The Brain

    American businesses and individuals need to save more money

    which means they need to earn more money ....

    which means we need to build more things and export them to draw the rest of the world's wealth to us .....

    which means our businesses need to be cost & value competitive ...

    which means our people must be smart enough to develop cutting edge products worthy of their price and we must do this better than anyone else.

    which means our level of academic skill & achievement must be the highest in the world.

    February 27, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. Rick

    If you'd eliminate the liberal indoctrination and get back to teaching the three "R's" we wouldn't have to lengthen the school year.

    February 27, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. JB

    To all the newbie political know it alls:

    You people are a disgrace. Let me explain something to you. THERE ARE NO SIDES. There are opinions, and thoughts of how to handle situations. You do not "pick a side" and stick with it. You pick a solution to a problem, regardless of what side it is on. You do what you think is best. A dem disagreeing with Obama doesn't make him a turncoat. Do any of you even have a clue what each party believes? I doubt it. In addition, a party is not a person. A person may align more with one party over another but, they are supposed to do what is best for his or her constituents (in his or her opinion). Republicans aren't anti people, pro corporation, racists blah blah blah. A Conservative generally (generally) believes in strong state government, weak federal government. Dems, the reverse. Our country is going to pot because you all are stupid uneducated whining little brats. That is why.

    February 27, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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