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

Education chief favors longer school year

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/27/education.school.year/art.duncan.gi.jpg caption="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. Speider

    If the spelling and grammar in these posts aren't a condemnation of where our school system has led us, then I say we are doomed to fail in global competition. Better schools and more of it...fast!

    February 27, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. Cali Girl

    Rob February 27th, 2009 5:34 pm ET

    There we go. And then we can get the children into the government sponsored education camps where they can be raised to be good little subservient drones, praising the Leader.

    Hail Obama! Hail Obama!

    Question, will goose-stepping be a 2 part course? Will the brain-washing begin in kindergarten?

    Oh, and Sniffit, you're an idiot. You are truly about as bright as a small appliance bulb.

    And there you go again, just another Obama hater that hates education also.

    February 27, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  3. mark

    Carol, you are probably one of the mothers that want your kids to stay in school longer because you don't like spending time with them. I think kids should be allowed to have summers off and be allowed to be children.

    February 27, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  4. Darth Vadik, CA

    How about corporal punishment for those kids who supposedly have ADD. Believe me, I know, two hard slaps from a teacher really focuses you on the subject. Stop this "adoration" of kids as though a little spank will scar them for life.

    This world can be a cruel mean place that can do a lot more to you than just give you a slap in the face.

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SPANK YOUR KIDS, EVEN USE THE BELT SOMETIMES (it worked on me, for the most part).

    February 27, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. Darth Vadik, CA

    How about corporal punishment for those kids who supposedly have ADD. Believe me, I know, two hard slaps from a teacher really focuses you on the subject. Stop this "adoration" of kids as though a little spank will scar them for life.

    This world can be a cruel mean place that can do a lot more to you than just give you a slap in the face.

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SPANK YOUR KIDS, EVEN USE THE BELT SOMETIMES (it worked on me, for the most part).

    February 27, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Cali Girl

    The American Worker February 27th, 2009 6:48 pm ET

    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.

    I think you may have missed the true point. It has nothing to do with graduating early, but more time spent learning what is needed to keep American competitive.

    February 27, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  7. YBM

    @Cali girl,

    Learn to read/comprehend, Roberta said "Japanese", she did not mention either indian or chinese students, and check the official statistics. I did not check the chinese or indian, but I did check the japanese, and yes I was there as well and it was all over the local news, the suicide rate for japanese students is higher than America's.

    February 27, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  8. YBM

    Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you've already said that!

    Well, then why is it not in moderation????

    February 27, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  9. Granny

    deja vu! When Harry S Truman ran for president against Thomas Dewey, all school children were panicked thatif Dewey was elected, it would mean a 12-month school year.

    Growing up in Chicago, we would get out of school the last week in June and return the Tuesday after Labor Day -2 months off! During those two months we swam, played outdoors, used our imagination, etc. Now kids are off for almost three months and they spend much of their time indoors on the computer or watching TV.

    In conclusion, let's shorten the summer vacation to one month as kids are not enjoying the summer outdoors- tv and computers can be used all year. Also, now many more moms are working than in the 40s and 50s, so children will be better supervised.

    Heavens, I never thought I'd be one of those "When I was a kid" people!!!

    February 27, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  10. slp

    Has he looked at the curriculum that is in place in school these days? I am a teacher and see first hand what is causing our children to fall behind. Having too short of a school year isn't it. Any one who has a degree in education knows that there are developmental stages that children go through. The problem is that children are required to learn things before their minds are ready. Kids in kindergarten are learning things that use to be presented in first grade. The truth is that kids need their summers to rest after what they are put through during the year. Teachers need it to recharge and to prevent burnout. If common sense doesn't return to education soon, we will have fewer and fewer children actually finishing high school.

    February 27, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  11. Sean

    no for longer school years.
    kids will just drop out.
    noone wants longer school years.
    you'll just be hated by all kids in america.

    February 27, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  12. Jamie from Philly

    As a teacher, I have no problem lengthening the school year as long as the additional time is spent teaching children reading, math, science and social studies instead of extending the already inappropriate time we are forced by administrators to prepare children for the standardized tests mandated by No Child Left Behind. If parents only understood how little time teachers are allowed to truly teach these days. If we do not follow orders to prep and prep and prep for tests, our jobs are threatened, yet no progress is made because we're not giving the proper time to teach to mastery.

    Breaking up the summer vacation into two smaller breaks would also maximize retention. Kids forget so much over a 12-week break.

    February 27, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  13. Anne

    I think a longer year is a great idea, but it is far from the answer, in and of itself.

    Given the problems of underfunding and lack of essential parenting, doing what we're doing for 365 days a year isn't going to make our children successful.

    I'm a teacher who is content with my paycheck, but would love to have the materials(books, technology, etc.) that I need, not having to teach "to the test", and more parents who do their part.

    February 27, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  14. ABSD

    GT- Teachers are far from overpaid. The "vacations" are unpaid. Think of them more as temporarily laid off. To make ends meet teachers have to take up second sometimes third jobs during the summer and school year.

    The JAPANESE do have a high suicide rate-in Japan. School is stressful there, only the brightest are chosen to continue their education. Which brings me to the next point...

    Why are we comparing ourselves to these countries so blindly. Many of these countries only educate the brightest. The unfortunate children who aren't the brightest stay home or work. Who do you think makes your childrens' toys and sneakers? In the US we accept all students who register to our public schools. Our standards scores incorporate a percentage of students who go to resource/spec. ed, or have learning disabilities.

    We are beating ourselves and our children up over false numbers. The children today are put under enormous pressure to do well on tests because of biased information.

    February 27, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  15. Ann

    Ever hear of special interest groups? You know... Like the teachers union for example.
    They're going to make sure that teachers continue to work PART TIME for Full Time Pay.

    The first big step is to get rid of teacher tenure.

    Tenure guarentees a teacher cannot be fired regardless of how incompetent they are.

    Watch how many teachers respond to this comment. They get very angry when people question the fact that they get paid full time salaries for part time work. To top it off... Bad teachers with tenure cannot be fired.

    July 12, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  16. Gwen

    I am sick and tired of teachers belly aching about how little they earn.

    Let's look at the facts.

    The average salary for an experienced teacher in CA ranges from an unbelievable $74,780 to $89,821 if you're lucky enough to work in Orange County.

    Teachers in CA work approximately 180 days per year. They are required to be in school only 6 hours per day which works out to a total of 1,080 per year.

    So the top teachers are earning $83.00 PER HOUR!!!

    An entry level teacher with no experience earns $32.00 per hour.

    Keep in mind that the average American works
    between 340 and 351 days per year.

    Teachers work part time (only 180 days per year) and earn between $35.00 and $83.00 per hour. Oh yeah. And they can't be fired if they're incompetent.
    We spend more on teachers than any other country in the world and our students rank an embarrassing 29th in science and math worldwide.

    It's time for teachers to start working full time like the rest of America!

    July 12, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
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