, Salem, MA

February 7, 2013

Letter: Longer school days ahead?

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

There has been a growing discussion on extending the time our children spend in school each day. Much of the discussion seems to center on how we would extend the school day but my main questions is why. Of course, as Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll has mentioned there may be an option of extending the school day and eliminating homework. What parent isn’t in favor of less homework? As a father of four, homework becomes a highly intensive part-time job, so no homework is a plus. There is also the benefit of parents being able to pick up longer hours at work, which is a definite benefit in this tough economy.

Still having said all this, my question is why, what practical reason do we have for extending the school day? Are there any real tangible benefits a longer school day will have on the future of our children? Our children are being asked to make a significant investment in the most valuable commodity they have, their time. I feel it is up to we as parents to act like investment brokers for our children to make sure their time is well spent.

If we are extending the school day only to cram in more MCAS preparation to improve scores and in correlation the amount of funding granted to schools, I would say no thank you. Whereas the idea is noble, I don’t feel preparation for standardized testing is the best investment of our children’s time and in no way prepares them to be productive members of a democracy rooted in capitalism as its primary means for realizing a promising life.

If we are extending the day to re-implement the curriculum that was uprooted by MCAS preparation I feel that is a better investment of our children’s time. However, much of that curriculum was already outdated and not capable of teaching our children what it takes to be successful in the 21st century, so I will pass on this option as well. If we are extending the school day because we have to try something to be competitive I would again have to say thanks but no thanks. Some people believe that more is better but investing more in what is ineffective just leads to more ineffectiveness.

In the end I am concerned that a longer school day is simply prolonging the inevitable. I am not interested in enabling the continued ineffectiveness of an outdated system. I am looking for a system that instills my kids with the tools they will need to meet a changing world. Instead of a longer school day how about we first create a more effective one.

Dominic Copeland