Isn't more time what schools really need?
Want to close the achievement gap? Give schools more time. (Or at least some of them.) Teachers will have more time to plan and collaborate. Struggling students will have more to catch up and keep up. Schools will have more time to offer a well-rounded set of classes.
That's what supporters hope, anyways. And their pitch has been getting some national traction. Last fall, President Obama called for a longer school year. In April, federal lawmakers introduced a bill that would reward states grant money if they add 300 hours to struggling schools. Last week, a broad coalition, including the AFT and FEA, stepped up to support it.
(We know, we know: it's not just more time, but more time well spent. In this April New York Times op-ed, researcher R. Barker Bausell - who recently authored a well-received book about schools and time - writes that it makes a lot more sense to look at how much time teachers spend on "relevant instruction" than it does to try to measure their effectiveness through standardized test scores.)
In Florida, some schools and school districts are trying to find ways to get little scraps of extra time. But it's hit or miss and almost an after thought - unlike the efforts to, say, shrink class sizes or expand vouchers and charters. Shouldn't more folks besides this one lawmaker be making this an issue? (Image from blog.totallyready.com)