Obama's new announcement yesterday got me thinking.
There is no doubt that the American school system needs an overhaul, but I don't think arbitrarily adding 3 extra hours to the school day is the answer.
I already see high burn out rates in teachers and students alike.
Compared to my elementary education in the 1970's, children are being pushed harder to learn concepts at an earlier age, given more homework/busy work and given less time to be 'a kid'.
Adding an additional 3 hours to the average school day will completely take away any chance for a childhood and severely impact parent/child relationships.
As it is now, most working parents only spend on average 3 hours or less a day (Monday-Friday) with their children. In that 3 hours, a parent needs to help with homework, make dinner, get their children ready for bed and spend quality time with their children. Forget running errands, cleaning, and extracurricular activities. Add more children to the scenario and it's next to impossible.
When we lived overseas the monkeys were in the American School system. Lucky for us, my husband's company paid for their tuition(can you say cha-ching).
Their school day started at 8am and ended at 3pm. Because most of the kids attending were from expat families, the school understood the difficulties expats experienced and kids were rarely given homework. All school work was finished at school (made sense to me). Every student attended a study hall class.
The differences here in America are staggering. Even though the girls attend one of the best public schools in America (98.7% of the students go on to 4 year university), the parents are expected to supplement the kids education, (i.e. I often feel like I'm repeating the 5th and 10th grade).
I remember my father helping every now and then with a book report, but my parents were never expected to sit down everyday at the kitchen table and help me with my homework. My brother and I still had plenty of time to be kids.
School was where the teachers educated the kids, home was where the parents parented the kids, weekends were for family time and the two never met except at fundraisers and parent/teacher conferences.
I already see kids who feel the pressure of enormous amounts of homework. My eldest spends approximately 2-3 hours a day on homework...my youngest 1-2 hours. I remember the time chart parents received when I was a kid...
Kindergarten - no homework
1st grade - 10 minutes/a day
2nd grade - 20 minutes/a day
3rd grade - 30 minutes/a day
4th grade - 40 minutes/a day
and so on...
Teachers didn't send home 20 pages of dittos of busy work.
I had time to go to piano lessons once a week, soccer practice twice a week, and still be home at 6pm for dinner.
Our teachers are already underpaid and our kids overworked, I'm just not sure this is the answer.