Obama’s Extended Day Plan is a Bad Idea
Okay, so President Obama is advocating year-round school and extended hours to our school day. And I can’t help but wonder when enough is enough! His argument is that our school calendars are based on an archaic agrarian time schedule which needs revamping. And yet I ask myself, didn’t we turn out okay under this archaic calendar? Is this really about the need to compete with other countries educationally, or is it instead just a smokescreen to provide safe after-school programs for low income areas at the expense of school districts? The president admitted as much when he announced his plan for schools. This is a bad idea for several reasons.
First, children need to be children and have time to play and spend time with their family. If the school day extends till 5:00 or 6:00, how does that leave any time for family and fun? Family time would revolve around dinner, homework, bathes, and bedtime. Much of a child’s development revolves around family and the normal activities that are part of family time in the evening. Forget that with Obama’s plan. And forget enjoying time with friends or playing outside, both important activities for developing children.
Second, what about extracurricular activities under Obama’s extended day plan? Where would sports fit into this extended schedule? How could coaches schedule practices if kids don’t even get home until early evening? What happens to after-school programs like drama, debate teams, choir, band, etc.? Am I alone in recognizing that fewer students would be able to take advantage of these programs? These are all part of a child’s educational experience, allowing them to expand their interests and become well-rounded, young people. Colleges look for extracurricular involvement in applicants. They recognize that academics are crucial but extracurricular involvement make for a more balanced individual. Involvement in these programs often teaches children about their skills and where their interests lie, which helps them plan for their future. With limited time in the evening, these programs would suffer and so would students who are unable to attend them.
Last, I would also suggest that those who advocate a longer day actually visit schools to observe elementary children for a day and see if they still think this is a great idea. Young students are tired by the afternoon, and it becomes increasingly more difficult to hold their attention as the afternoon progresses. Now, we are thinking of adding at least two more hours to their day? Do you really think that their energy level and attention will last that long? Parents, does your child’s attention level last that long at home? What are we thinking?
Again, should all students have to adjust to a longer day to provide after-school care for students who don’t have it? Not only does this seem unfair, but it seems counterproductive. President Obama and his advocates need to talk to teachers of elementary students and see what we think. It sounds great to say that adding two to three hours onto the school day will create more competitive students, but I don’t believe it will, not if students are exhausted and done by 3:00. And let’s not rule out what students stand to lose with less time in the evening. It’s a bad idea, and it hurts more than it helps!