SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 8, 2013

Column: Longer school days offer chance for student success

As a North Shore resident, I was pleased to join Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and Dr. Stephen Russell last month at a community meeting about expanded learning time (ELT). At that meeting, the discussion covered a lot of ground — about what it means to expand learning time and why more than 90 schools across Massachusetts have decided to act on this issue. In my presentation (which can be found on our website at www.timeandlearning.org), I included videos of parents, students and teachers sharing their perspectives because their voices are critically important to any conversation about ELT. I was energized by the thoughtful dialogue and questions that followed, and it is clear to me that the Salem leadership and community is committed to exploring important strategies to improve the city’s schools.

Since that meeting, I have heard from parents and community members wondering what it means to “implement expanded school schedules well.” They want to better understand the real impact on children, if the Salem schools move in this direction. They are concerned that the time may not be used well.

I’m the parent of a kindergartener and I empathize with this anxiety. I chose an expanded-time school for my daughter because I wanted her to be exposed to a second language, music and art in addition to the Three Rs (and science and world geography). We all want to know that the schools to which we send our children are offering the best possible academic and enrichment opportunities. We want to know that if our children need more time for one-on-one support the school has time to offer it and that physical education and the arts will not be squeezed out by literacy and math. I’m pleased to say that expanding learning time makes this personalized and a well-rounded education possible.

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