A silver lining to budget cuts?
With the Legislature beginning its gloomy special session today, this op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat attempts to look on the bright side. Sally Butzin, president and executive director of the Institute for School Innovation, says a school funding crisis “could be a blessing in disguise” if school leaders use it to pull the levers for systemic reform. She proposes:
• using technology to eliminate textbooks,
• larger class sizes, but with each one staffed by a master teacher, a trained assistant and a teacher-in-training,
• schools operating four days per week, eight hours per day (to save on busing costs) with a fifth day set aside for teacher planning, staff development and enrichment for the kids.
“The fifth day would be staggered among schools to spread resources,” Butzin writes. “Sports teams, bands and choirs would have a full day of practice –- like summer camps throughout the year. Older students could work on community volunteer projects on the fifth day, as well as internships at local businesses.”
The idea of lengthening and reconfiguring the school day is getting attention (and maybe even some traction) around the country. In Florida? This $32.7-million idea from a former state lawmaker is as close as we’ve gotten, at least for public schools.