President Barack Obama declared recently that he is demanding that American children spend "more time in the classroom." He and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are calling for a longer school day and for year-round school, claiming that kids in other countries spend more time in school than American students do.
That's not true. Children in Asian nations who score higher on international math and science tests, such as Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong, do not spend more hours in school than American children. The Asian children do have a few more school days, but the school days are shorter. Furthermore, there isn't any correlation between time in the classroom and performance on international tests. Some of the European countries that keep children more hours in the classroom do poorly on international tests.
Some kids may need extra help from school, but just because some need special assistance, that is no argument to require all children to remain in school for longer days or all during the summer.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is really trying to restructure government schools as community centers. He wants public schools to be open 24 hours a day so they can service the community with all sorts of things such as health care, to extracurricular activities, to job training for adults. Duncan always brings up the child care problems faced by working parents. We get the impression that his real purpose in lengthening the school day is an attempt to get the votes of employed mothers who are glad to have the public schools serve as baby sitters for a longer day, and also the votes of the teachers' unions whose members, of course, would expect that Duncan's plans would require more pay for teachers and more union jobs to hire additional teachers.
Just remember, the spending bills already voted by Congress give Obama's Education Department an extra $100 billion to carry out their plans.
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