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. Patrick

    Give me a break. Our kids need a break. If parents did their jobs and watched kids there summer breaks are a great thing of kids and parents alike. Parents get to see their kids more and kids get to have a summer of fun. We need to get away from the nanny state.

    February 27, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. Griff............... on The Truth...

    History? Bona-parte. Obama-Parte. Barack? Napoleon.
    I will rule the World, one day.

    February 27, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Steve (the real one)

    I agree with this. I know in Korea kids go to school 5.5 days a week and they are kicking our butts in math and the sciences. In addition, during the three month "vacations", kids tend to forget what they have learned, get bored and get into trouble! On the other hand, 11 months of bad education, crappy facilities, and bad teachers is worst than the current 9 months of the same!

    February 27, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. willie

    Whoa, Big Brother is getting scary...

    February 27, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Jeremiah

    While I am not going to say that a longer school year is a bad idea, here in Oregon becuase of budget shortfalls they are talking about shortening the current school year. If the money is there then it might be a good idea, but funding at this point in time will be hard to come by.

    February 27, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    This will cost money and create smarter people who are not so easily led around by the GOP's manipulative misinformation campaigns. They will oppose this with everything they've got.

    February 27, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. P. Y.

    This is done in other countries and it works very well. We really have to do better in educating our children.

    February 27, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Save Schools

    At last someone who understands the issues.... There is no need to have months of vacation... Reduce the break and limit to a maximum of 8 weeks. Kids should be in school in most part of their younger ages and they should be studying while they are at school. First step towards improving the standards of future generation.

    Hope to see more of such fundamental changes....

    February 27, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. urbantexan

    I am all for it. Make it all year round. That would not only make the kids smarter, but help he parents keep expenses down over the summer months.
    Where can I sign my 6 foot tall 16 year he's always hungry
    up !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. Carol

    "Education chief favors longer school year"

    So do most of us parents......

    February 27, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |


    February 27, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    It certainly will cut down on family vacations in the summer which may hurt the economy. But I like the idea. Chinese students in China go to school I think 7 days a week. We need to up the anty.

    February 27, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Jenny (Boston)

    No way! children need to be children . They already have so much to do, it seems that we are pushing them to become robots... I am against it!

    February 27, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Einstein believed Americans spent too many hours in school. Was he dumb? Home school is the best option people.

    February 27, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. FreeNLovIt

    Longer school days are not what my nephews need. They need quality education that focuses on their struggles and help them to LEARN.

    February 27, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. an american first

    I love this idea. I have been trying to get some consunsus on 231 days of school year for a long time now. Think about it:

    365 days/year
    – 52 Saturdays
    – 52 Sundays
    – 10 days for Christmas & New Year
    – 5 days for Thanksgiving
    – 5 days for Spring Break
    – 5 days for Summer Break
    – Memorial Day
    – Labor Day
    – July 4th
    – MLK Day
    – President's Day.
    ==== 231 days of school year.
    Our current school year is around 180 to 190 days a year. That is simply not enough.

    February 27, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Ken from missouri

    If we are to remain a super power we need to keep up with the rest of the world and this will prepare our kids for life . I think this is a great
    idea the world is changing and our kids will have to keep up.

    February 27, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Jonny

    President Obama just set the timetable for Iraqi withdrawal, and it’s significantly longer than the one he was promising on the campaign trail. Nonetheless, the President stated that by August 31, 2010, U.S. forces will withdraw from their combat role in Iraq.

    Now my first reaction to this was negative – why set a timetable when you’re in the middle of a war? Why give the other side that kind of information?

    But, it’s his post-withdrawal plan that makes the whole thing work. Obama will be keeping 50,000 troops on the ground in Iraq to train the Iraqi military, protect civilians and conduct anti-terror missions. In fact, this post-withdrawal plan even earned Obama the support of his old rival, John McCain.

    For more check out : http://www.TalkObama.info

    February 27, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Gene

    To Rick who said "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."

    Sorry.. but I would much prefer to have the liberal well rounded education than to be taught just the basic subjects. That's the problem with education as it is.. not just that kids can't read and write and do arithmetic, it's that we've fallen behind in this country in areas like science.

    You can have your kids taught the basics so that your kids are limited. I'll have my kids taught the most well rounded education possible so your kids can serve my kids their french fries.

    February 27, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. How to increase your GPA: Tax Cuts!

    Thank you Rick, for being the poster child of our education level in this country.

    Go to vocational school much?

    February 27, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. debbie

    I was always so excited for the end of school, but after a month I was bored to tears and couldn't wait to go back. Plus these days so many households have two working parents and the kids are farmed out to day care or summer camp anyway. Better be in school more than being warehoused in front of video games.

    February 27, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  22. TCM

    the problem with the school system is it now contains too many liberals; those that want to dumb down the smart kids, so that there's no kids left behind...what do we end up with? A nation of dumb-to-mediocre kids...because we had to be "fair." So, none of you smart kids out there dare to be overachievers, don't be too intelligent or make too high of grades...because our government will punish you for it, especially if you're white. The summer or length of the summer has absolutely nothing to do with it.......it all starts at home...get a frickin' clue.

    February 27, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Casey | Sebastopol, CA

    An excellent idea – and should go hand in hand with year-round school... meaning that these institutions are never empty or unused. It's way past time that America wake up to how the rest of the world handles "vacation" - they take one month off a year.

    We are no longer an agrarian society - and kids no longer need to get out of school to help bring in the crops or take the animals to market.

    And honestly, "childhood" has nothing to do with having 3 months of time to hang at the mall.

    Kids today would have a better "childhood" if parents would simply wake up and participate in their lives in a positive way.

    February 27, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. King

    I grew up in Africa and we went to school two months longer every year. By the time I graduated, we has effectively gone to school that's 24 months more than kids here. That's two years, people. Let's tell the truth, kids are getting lazier and lazier...

    February 27, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Cynthia, NJ

    At last........ Someone who understands that our Children have way to much free time. I totally agree with Duncan.

    Thank you Mr Duncan!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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