12-Hour School Days

July 29, 2010

by Tammy Drennan

[Many thanks to Frances for letting me know about the article this piece refers to.]

Let’s say you have your children in a daycare situation and you discover that the provider is failing to do what they said they would, including keeping your children mentally stimulated and physically safe. Children are exposed to bullying, have easy access to toxic substances and are left largely to fend for themselves. They are bored, victimized, afraid, neglected and deteriorating or stagnating by every measure.

What would you do? Would you:

A) Remove your children from the daycare
B) Contact authorities to have the facility’s license revoked
C) Increase the amount of time your children spend at daycare

Almost everyone at every level of government, across the political spectrum, from every walk of life, agrees that American public schools are doing a poor job of educating children, as well as a poor job of keeping them emotionally and psychologically healthy and physically safe.

The federal government, via its education spokesperson, Arne Duncan, says it thinks the solution is: C) Increase the amount of time children spend at school, with possibilities reaching 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week.

Public schools, Mr. Duncan thinks, are the solution to — everything, apparently: childcare needs, poor test scores, social ills, you name it. The more time children spend there, the better.

It’s not that Mr. Duncan thinks schools are okay as they are. He doesn’t. But he has solutions for that, too — and I quote, “Nothing moves people as quickly as the opportunity for more funding, especially at a time like today.”

More time, more money, more testing — these are the answers.

Let’s wrap this up just so we’re clear on things: Take a system of education that is failing children in every imaginable area, expand its role in children’s lives, use methods of forcing improvement that have never worked before, and — voila! Um, I said Voila!