February 27th, 2009
03:20 PM ET
6 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. Sniffit

    I'm not the liar....Booby Jingle is. Look it up. Google is the GOP's worst enemy.

    February 27, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. Ryan

    My brother and his wife are both teachers. I'm sure they'll be pleased to get the pay raises that had better come with this extension of the school year. If you want people to work more, you obviously have to pay them more. Which means I'm sure taxpayers will love having their school taxes hiked 15-20% to pay for the operating cost increases of keeping the schools open, not to mention how much some of these schools will have to fork over for air conditioning all summer.

    Having attended Pennsylvania schools, I know they're already hit badly in the winter because of how cold it gets, but when temperatures hit 100+ in June when we were still in school, it was nearly impossible to get anything done.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a bad idea, but it's going to require lots more funding which will come out of our collective pockets and I hope people are prepared for that if they support this.

    February 27, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "...a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone "days later." The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time."

    Sniff that.

    February 27, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. jmv

    RE: the 231-day plan. Could we also incorporate another change by calling the 10 days in December "Winter Break"? Winter Break is as much for everybody as Summer Break and Spring Break are.

    February 27, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. Pete

    It seems pretty sensible. Students in Europe and Asia go to school year round, and they routinely outperform American students. Good thing subhumans like Rob want to make it all about Obama. Tell me, nitwit, when's the last time a conservative had an idea that didn't involve cutting taxes or dismantling the social contract?

    February 27, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. seth

    This is the stupidest idea ever...just a lazy approach to a complicated issue. Instead of paying teachers more to work year round, why not instead pay teachers more to work the same hours/days they do now (summers off), thereby attracting brighter people to the field. We have enough lazy, dumb teachers already. Furthermore, we should allow kids to skip grades instead of doing pointless honors programs. That would get us much farther than this idea.

    February 27, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. bsmith171

    he's a chicago pol via austrailia.

    where did obama meet him? in indonesia?

    February 27, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. dumbocrat alert

    just another way for teachers and their union to suck out more taxpayer dollars for their inferior work.

    February 27, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  9. shoegazer

    i dOnt seE wHaT gOoD a LoNgEr SkooL yEar iS gOiNg tO dO.i tHinKed i HaVE lEaRnt aS mUch aS Ime GoIng to Do tHiS yEar.

    February 27, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  10. Canadian educator

    Clearly something needs to be done with American education, as the President and his Secretary of Education clearly realize. This would be a good start, although not all that is needed. In support of the comment by ao, American 15 year olds in the most recent international science and maths tests finished respectively 29th and 35th in the two categories, behind Poland in both areas. What is more
    relevant, Canadian students finished 4th and 7th in the same two tests, which means thay will have a tremendous advantage when fillin jobs requiring those skills. This is not because we spend more per capita on education than the U.S.A but probably because high school science teachers are required to take a 4 year science degree (typically involving at least 10 full courses in one or two areas of science, followed by education training instead of a 4 year BEd with
    minimal science training. Inanother area, our health plan covers 100% of Canadians at about 2/3 of the cost per capita of the incomplete coverage on the U.S.A. For those right wing Americans who are are in an uproar about socialism and like to cite Canada as one of the evils of socialism, my reply is 1) Canada is not socialist by any normal definition of the term (our previous Liberal government had many years of consecutive surpluses) 2) if our education and health care are what you regard as socialism then maybe, socialism by your defintion is not so bad

    February 27, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  11. thank you arnie!

    and make the school day longer,

    teachers more accountable,

    teacher pay doubled,

    cut administration / management down to 1/4,

    fire all managers / administrators with MBA,

    put real educators in supervisory roles,

    raise taxes for public education!

    February 27, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  12. John Doe

    ahh trust me, a longer school year will mean even more drop-outs. More school may help those who definitely want to learn but will cause even more drop outs! You're gonna have to find something better to address that issue. Your just subjecting typical kids to more of what they hate and that will give kids another reason to drop out.

    February 27, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  13. arithmetic is liberal

    I think "an american first" has a great idea about the 231 day school year!

    February 27, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  14. arithmetic is liberal

    dumbocrat alert – typical "dismantle everything I don't agree with" conservative.

    You people would amputate someone's arm if it had a scratch.

    February 27, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  15. Vickie

    I think this concept is long over due! I strongly support year-round school and what it will mean to our country! One of the reasons I voted for Obama is because I am tired of seeing America live in a 19th Century America – This is the 21st Century lets give our Children the advantage they need to compete globally!

    February 27, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  16. The American Worker

    Year around school is the answer. Kids can graduate from high school and college sooner and parents wont have to worry about whos watching them during the summer and having the difficult task of getting them ready to go back in the fall.

    February 27, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  17. sick n tired of CNN moderators

    No argument here!

    February 27, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  18. Nate HUSSEIN

    Great idea, fill those idle minds. Pay our teachers more to educate and in return, I'm sure we'll build less prisons.

    February 27, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  19. Idealist

    Many families would save money – less childcare expense.

    February 27, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  20. Buckeye

    Eliminate school during January throughout the Snow Belt. Go in June and July when the weather does not endanger the health of children.

    February 27, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  21. Roberta

    NO! (she crys) It is too soon in a person's life before they have to work with little or no break throughout the year. Yes, I know the summer break was originally so kids could help out their families on the farm. But most people don't work on a farm now and if kids can't have fun who can? I hate being a responsible adult and am glad it didn't start any sooner than it had to. Because I didn't have to get a job, I thought summer jobs during my teens were fun. And then school was fun because it was a change. Sigh .... By the way, did you know that the teen suicide rate is higher in Japan than the US? I'm pretty sure it's because Japanese students have much more pressure regarding school put on them than our kids do.

    February 27, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  22. ray ray

    I'm SURE extending school will solve the problem of school drop-out rates in urban areas!! (insert sarcasm)

    This is nothing more than kick-back to unions who want to huge pay increases to their "members" – and so teachers don't have to look for p/t work during summers.

    February 27, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  23. michael

    school should be optional

    February 27, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  24. Cali Girl

    CNN

    I had a very nice post that couldn't get past your censorship. I wonder what word I used, that you did not like.

    February 27, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. Cali Girl

    Roberta February 27th, 2009 7:24 pm ET

    NO! (she crys) It is too soon in a person's life before they have to work with little or no break throughout the year. Yes, I know the summer break was originally so kids could help out their families on the farm. But most people don't work on a farm now and if kids can't have fun who can? I hate being a responsible adult and am glad it didn't start any sooner than it had to. Because I didn't have to get a job, I thought summer jobs during my teens were fun. And then school was fun because it was a change. Sigh …. By the way, did you know that the teen suicide rate is higher in Japan than the US? I'm pretty sure it's because Japanese students have much more pressure regarding school put on them than our kids do.
    __________________________________________________

    I was married to a man from India, I have Chinese friends. These cultures do not have a higher suicide rate than we do. It's just not true. Thinking like yours, is what exactly has set us back.

    February 27, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
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