Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Why can't regular schools expand learning time?

I got an advance look at the first ever count of U.S. public schools that have significantly expanded learning time. The report by the National Center on Time & Learning, released today, reveals a surprisingly large number--655--give students an average of 25 percent more time than the standard six-and-a-half hours a day, 180 days a year. But I was disappointed that only about 160 of that group are regular public schools.

The District has 18 schools on the list, more than in all but ten states. But they are charter public schools. The majority of D.C. children are still in regular schools. They have not had a chance to see what a big jump in learning time might do for them.

The Washington area suburbs are also disappointing. Maryland has only two schools on the list, both charters in Baltimore. One--the KIPP Ujima Village Academy---has cut back its hours under union pressure to pay teachers the standard hourly rate for the extra time. The only Virginia schools on the list are the two “An Achievable Dream” schools set up by the Newport News school district to help impoverished students.

I like longer school days because I have seen them help bring significant increases in achievement in several charter school networks, including Achievement First, Uncommon Schools, YES and KIPP. Most important are their great teachers, the flame of learning. Increased time is the fuel.

But keep in mind that some of the D.C. schools on the extended time list are not high-performing at all, a point made by Elena Silva, a senior policy analyst at the Washington-based think tank Education Sector:
"Research shows that extending the right kind of time to the students who need it most can improve student learning and effectively close achievement gaps between poor and minority students and their more affluent peers. . . . But the preponderance of evidence on extending time in schools suggests that the benefits of adding time to the school day or year are by no means certain or universal."

Christopher Gabrieli, chairman of the National Center on Time & Learning, said more time doesn’t help unless teachers know how to deal with each child. “The guys who use more time the best individualize instruction the most,” he said.

Charters are more likely to have longer school days because they are usually non-union and don’t have to follow their districts’ teacher contracts. One of the reasons why there are so few charters in Maryland, and why KIPP Ujima is in trouble, is that Maryland requires its charters to be unionized.

The states with the largest portion of traditional schools on the list are Louisiana (40 out of 56), where unions are weak and rules were suspended after Hurricane Katrina, and Massachusetts (34 out of 77), which has a state-funded $15 million a year program to lengthen school days.

David Farbman, author of the report, said many state officials did not know which schools had extended the school day or year, so there are likely more that were not identified. The report missed at least two D.C. schools, the KIPP AIM Academy and the KIPP WILL Academy, which have nine hour days. (About 10 percent of schools on the national list are part of KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, subject of my most recent book.)

Americans are split on extending school time. It costs money. But President Obama has put it on his agenda, the Center for American Progress recently reported on union support for more time, and support for a modest increase has grown. Asked if they would favor increasing the school day by an hour in 1982, only 37 percent said yes. That number has nearly doubled. More schools should try it.

Follow Jay's blog every day at

For all the Post's Education coverage, please see

By Jay Mathews  | December 6, 2009; 10:00 PM ET
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags:  Christopher Gabrieli, Knowledge Is Power Program, National Center on Time & Learning, charter schools, expanded learning time  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Carjacking at a top D.C. charter school
Next: Anguish in the library for kids without computers


The age old addage that more is better isn't necessarily true. More is never better.

Better is better! Instead of adding time, administrators should focus more on core skills and getting students to learn more efficiently.

If a student can't do something in an hour, what are they going to do with an extra hour? It reminds me of an out-dated langauge program where a student was watching a Russian language newscast, and when the student said, " I don't understand it," the response was to have them watch another hour of it.

Students here study from 7:30am to 10pm and it resembles a typical high school in Korea. Not all are attending Jay's alma mater.

Posted by: ericpollock | December 6, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

The challenge with additional time is quality. DC has extended time provided in most of their afterschool programs. However, despite many attempts those programs are still very uneven. The problem is staffing quality costs a lot of money. Plus frankly even though I agree with a lot Rhee's reforms, she has not been able to persaude teachers it is in their interest to embrace these programs so they struggle on with many stubsitute teachers and a lack of unified curriculm.

Posted by: Brooklander | December 7, 2009 3:22 AM | Report abuse

Back when my children were in high school it switched to a block schedule.

With the longer class times the teachers gave the students more time in class to work on their assignments. I suspect this wasn't the original aim, but it helped my sons. They'd get focused on the subject and then have extra minutes to do some of the practice/homework. I saw a rising average with one son. The other son, quite the social butterfly, not so much.

I always felt like that extra time in school to practice and repeat the lesson was helpful.

Another year one son played football. The school mandated an hour study-hall before practice for all athletes. You could consult with a teacher during this time if you asked. They didn't force kids to do their work but you had to be there and you had to be quiet. Again, I saw much better grades.

This wasn't necessarily more teaching time, but it was more learning time.

Posted by: RedBird27 | December 7, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Since many schools are using the day to do PLC meetings for staff and remediation during the day for the kids, an extended school day might not be a bad idea. When I started teaching 7 years ago, we had 96 minute blocks, which worked well. Then, time kept getting cut for something during the day. At first, it was once in a while, then once a week, now its daily. Now each block is about 80 minutes. A 15 minute difference might not seem like much, but add to that the mandated (for us) 15 minute warm up, 10 minute ending assignment, and SOLs that are adding more material without taking items away, and you need every second you can get.
The extended time in the day does not need to be hours. I would think 45-60 minutes would do the trick.

Posted by: zeptattoo | December 7, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

So the line of logic is:
More time = better schools
Unions won't allow for the more time
Therefore unions don't want better schools.

Correct me if I missed something in your line of logic there, but that is what I took away from your post. Measuring the value of school on how many minutes a student sits there, is one of the most meaningless statistics from where I stand.

After teaching in four states all throughout the country, I can assure you the problems will not be corrected by breaking unions for longer school days. I accept that in your observations, the schools you see working have longer days. This does not then allow you to extrapolate for all schools. This country is spectacularly diverse in so many ways. After teaching in northern WI, rural KS, bordering the reservation in AZ and center city Philly, the ills that plague our schools are so much more complex than a simple addition of minutes.

I would rather see the extra funds go into shrinking K-3 classrooms to 12-15 students. There is a direct correlation of an improvement of basic math and reading skills when this occurs. Investing in the small classes when the foundational skills are developing, in my opinion, would be a much better use of dollars than a simple increase in minutes. Once the students leave the third grade with more solid foundational skills, the years ahead of them can be spent building instead of remediating.

Posted by: dlaufenberg | December 7, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Why can't regular schools expand learning time? Well, in DC, the answer seems pretty clear: unions. (Charter schools in DC do not have them, which is why they have more flexibility in designing schedules.)

Posted by: trace1 | December 7, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, you guys are all right, teachers should have to work longer hours for the same pay, and unions are wrong to oppose this.

Posted by: someguy100 | December 7, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I don't think "unions" are against extra hours.
Just so long as the teacher is paid at the same rate.
I know many teachers who would extra hours if they were paid for it.
The problem is that the school systems don't want to pay for it. They would like teachers to work extra time for the same same salary, or pay them at a cheaper, hourly rate.
(And the "unions" for the gradual erosion of what they have bargained for. For example, years ago in PG County, the school day was lengthen by 15 minutes for the children, which meant 15 minutes less of planning time.)

Posted by: edlharris | December 7, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

dlaufenberg wrote:
"So the line of logic is:
More time = better schools
Unions won't allow for the more time
Therefore unions don't want better schools."

I don't think Jay made that conclusion at all. Not only is that line of logic is faulty, but I think unions' stances are based more on money than the students' quality of education.

Posted by: mytwocents | December 7, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

In what other profession would workers be criticized for not wanting to work extra hours for the same pay? We expect our teachers to be role models; teach our kids *our* values (whatever those are); live perfect, blameless lives; go to games, plays, PTA meetings, etc; and attend continuing education sessions & classes without paying them as professionals. How many of you out there criticizing the teachers & unions would happily accept a longer work day without additional pay?

Posted by: RussellWoolard | December 7, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Finland has some of the highest performing schools in the world but they have a short day & kids don't enter until age 7. Time in school isn't the real issue. It's only a band-aid for a bad home environment.

Posted by: CrimsonWife | December 7, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

A great model is the Washington Jesuit Academy in Northeast, a school Mr. Mathews reported on when it opened. The boys go for 12 hours a day, and, from my experience teaching and tutoring there, by the end of the year there is a palpable sense of community and accomplishment. Whether it's feasible to implement such a program in a widespread manner is another question. Regardless, I have seen its very positive effects.

Posted by: brianchappell_89 | December 7, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Horrifyingly enough, I find myself in agreeance with the observation that more isn't better although I'm sure I can put a spin on it that'll annoy most of the poster.

California mandated smaller classrooms, i.e. more teachers. Turned out not so good because districts were more interested in sticking any acceptable, warm body in front of the kids then in assuring that they were actually teachers and not just teaching certificate-bearers.

Bigger classrooms with competent teachers trumps smaller classrooms with who-gives-a-damn teachers.

Posted by: allenm1 | December 7, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

One really practical reason is that the federal 21st century grants are focused on safety and not academics. many many districts use these grants to fund after-school care. ironically, they are difficult to get, so the charters which are doing true extended days of academics often can't receive these grants. The obvious answer is to refocus these grants on extended learning and then massively increase the pool of dollars so that everyone can use them.

Posted by: jdanner | December 7, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for speaking about the important issue of expanded learning time. Higher Achievement, a rigorous year-round academic enrichment program, is extremely committed to this issue as we provide 650 hours annually of additional learning opportunities to nearly 500 students in the DC-Metro area. This supplemental learning time has produced wonderful results: in just four years scholar GPAs increase on average from a 2.3 to a 3.8 and last year 100% of our scholars increased their DC CAS scores by 20 percent. Higher Achievement runs on the ideals that talent is everywhere, that intellect is built through effort and that opportunities matter.

Posted by: acohen2 | December 7, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

More time is not necessarily better. Better depends on what happens in that time. All of the schools my kids attended (highly-rated affluent suburbs) wasted a lot of time on non-academic stuff - announcements, assemblies and busywork etc. In particular, the one who spent two years in a high school with block scheduling said that at least half of every (honors) class was wasted because too many kids couldn't/wouldn't keep up with that much new material at once.

First should come a safe and disciplined environment, good curriculum and good instruction. From my experience and reading, that would mean real phonics, grammar, spelling, composition, good literature, real math, science, geography and history (incorporating art and music). It would mean Direct Instruction in homogeneous classrooms, with teachers who know their subject matter. The emphasis would be on mastery, with advancement as soon as mastery is achieved and there would be no social promotion. More of that kind of program is likely to work; more mush won't.

Posted by: momof4md | December 7, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"In what other profession would workers be criticized for not wanting to work extra hours for the same pay? We expect our teachers to be role models; teach our kids *our* values (whatever those are); live perfect, blameless lives; go to games, plays, PTA meetings, etc; and attend continuing education sessions & classes without paying them as professionals. How many of you out there criticizing the teachers & unions would happily accept a longer work day without additional pay?"
Thank you for that. That's it exactly.

Posted by: rrap1 | December 7, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

comments to this blog are often of a very high quality, but this bunch is particularly good. Thank you. I appreciate mytwocents depending me on the union issue. As I said, and quoted Silva, there are some bad schools with longer school days and experts say quality of the time trumps length. I apologize to dlaufenberg for not doing more with union efforts to support increased learning time, but I did mention them and will get back to this soon. Many people agree with dlaufenberg that getting class sizes down to 13 to 15 is the way to go, but the Calif. experience with substandard teaching, and the enormous costs of such a change, suggest it would not bring significant achievement gains. The schools in the country with the best record for raising achievement have pretty large class sizes, in the very high 20s to low 30s. Teacher quality also trumps low class size, at least while high quality teachers are still a scarce commodity.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | December 7, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

It seems to me that time is merely an input, sometimes more time is needed on a task, sometimes one needs to step back, take a pause, and think anew on a task. Isnt this true in almost all of our lives? If so, then time in education should be structured to the data-driven outputs: do the results of some gateway or important test indicate the need for more time (or maybe rethinking the process)? I sure dont know but it doesnt look as if such assocation is happening in schools.
What strikes me the most about K-12 schooling, in general, is such lock-step uniformity, that lack of experimentation at the school level, either in terms of school calendar, or of time spent in schooling. What is the significance of 200 some days in school, if there is little progress to show?
My own observation about Maryland's lack of charters is that the unions (at least at the school district level) seem less an obstacle than the school districts themselves who cannot abide that loss of control from the center. Why schools are not separate budget centers, with principals responsible for how funds are spent there, in response to their on the ground needs, is something not many care to address, do they? The overall lack of imagination in K-12 education, even in comparison to community colleges, is staggering and shameful, in my opinion.

Posted by: FrankP2 | December 7, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, lots of students learn well without extra hours (and Jay, most middle and upper middle class kids are NOT studying and "resume padding" in their off hours, which describes about 10-15% of that population).

So what we're really saying is that many kids can't learn within the normal school day. Fine. While we're acknowledging that, can we acknowledge a few other truths?

--Kids that are having trouble learning in the regular school day are almost certainly not ready for algebra as freshmen, much less 8th grade.

--Kids who have trouble learning in the normal school day might take two years to get through a basic subject, much less an advanced one.

--Kids who have trouble learning in the normal day are not good candidates for college preparatory classes, much less AP classes.

--Kids who have trouble learning in the normal days should not be given passing grades when their demonstrated abilities show they can't do the material.

--Since teachers can't be stopped from giving passing grades to manifestly incompetent students, we need some sort of grade control mechanism to ensure that society at large (and these kids in particular) are given a better understanding of the true gap in abilities.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | December 7, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Regarding your response Mr. Mathews:

I encourage you to read through a series of responses to the small class size myths from the US Dept. of Ed.

In addition, I wasn't proposing that we do small class sizes instead of worry about teacher quality. My argument was that it is a more effective use of money to support small class sizes than a longer school day. Teacher effectiveness is an important conversation that you bring up here frequently and I am, daily, invested in trying to improve teacher quality/effectiveness in my job. However, the issue you chose to highlight is more time in desks = better schools. I think a more robust conversation about class size, particularly in the formative grades, is a better focus for the dialogue and concentration of dollars.

Posted by: dlaufenberg | December 7, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't support the class-size reduction as a solution. I would rather see HOMOGENEOUS classes, which I think would improve class behavior and increase learning. Kids who are bored or, especially, so far behind that they are lost are likely to be disruptive. Every kid deserves to be challenged at a level that matches his actual academic achievement.

Posted by: momof4md | December 7, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

It's another RED HERRING--anything to keep from facing the truth: incompetent teachers, unmotivated students, lack of discipline, lazy feeling of entitlement.
Making it longer will just mean more of the same--no content taught, "teaching" novels in class, teaching incorrect grammar and pronunciation.

Posted by: IIntgrty | December 7, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

There may be a good rationale for increasing the length of the schoolday.
But there's no justification to do it on the "backs of the teachers". It's unfair to make a correlation between schoolday length and any contractual difficulties that charter schools face in jurisdictions where teachers' unions are strong.

Teachers are not paid lavish salaries -- certainly those salaries are not commensurate with the essential nature of their work.

When charters have the opportunity to pay teachers lower than union scale, they certainly shouldn't be demanding them to work longer hours without compensation. A very shortsighted philosophy -- and one which will certainly not improve the quality of education.

Posted by: laboo | December 7, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Longer days are not the answer. Eliminating recess is not the answer. More testing is not the answer. It's time to look at the whole person. How about an hour of exercise in the morning before academics begin? A whole foods menu in the cafeteria? A curriculum not designed in the early 20th century? School can be excruciatingly boring for many students, and there is no one correct response to the "problem" of education.

By the way, I'm not sure why inner city charter schools are the model for anything. Why aren't we modeling the most exclusive prep schools and learning from them? Their secret is parent participation, fundraising, great academics, and a lot of money, money, money. No wealthy person advocates for his or her child to attend a KIPP charter school. Bill Gates doesn't. Obama doesn't. The list goes on.

Posted by: readerny | December 7, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I am a public school teacher in a school with an excellent afterschool program. Tutoring is provided through outside agencies and teachers who choose to do this are paid through these agencies. I do not think teachers should be required to work a longer day. It is often people who like kids and value family who choose to teach. With planning and required meetings and workshops our day easily averages over eight hours. That is enough. People should have time for family, church, reflection and recreation. Living a balanced sane life will make us better educators.

Social problems go deep. Kids need a family life. If they spend all their waking hours in school they have none. If small children catch the bus at 6:45, stay in aftercare til 6:00, get home after rush hour at 6:30, subtract time for a decent dinner,bath, getting your PJs on, teeth brushed etc there is no family time. Besides, by the late afternoon they are TIRED.

I do not think replacing the family is an acceptible solution to DEEP family problems. I recently saw the movie "Precious." A longer school day would not have prevented her home experience. She would have just sat there for two more hours in no state for learning.

POSSIBLY as part of a complete community initiative like Geoffrey Canada's initiative in NY extra time may make a difference academically for some children. However, those families apply for admission to his school and then are selected by lottery. The parental act of applying would certainly influence the student make-up.

"Precious" left me feeling both hopeful and sad. The movie showed those who reached out to Precious, but the parents were portrayed as inhuman and unreachable. However, a little historical awareness reveals that they were mirroring ancestral tragedy and adopting the worst of the attitudes of those they had been led to believe were strongest. That is psycho-spiritual, not academic, and we can't fix it. Pretending we can is disrespectful to the gravity of history. The best we can do is live balanced lives that reflect TRUE strength and interact with people on planes that can really help which extends well beyond academics. FAMILY life as bad as it may be, should be respected as an institution.

If I were to have more required hours, I would hope it would be for family activities with required attendance by the students and families.

Posted by: RootDrsPerennial | December 7, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse


Despite the cold of winter, shaking the hornet's nest is still dangerous. Nonetheless, all solutions need to be on the table--even ones that have been dismissed in previous years.

Thanks to all who made comments. This was one of the best discussions on Class Struggle.

Happy Festivus! I'll go back to grading now...

Posted by: professor70 | December 7, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm disappointed that Jay did not cite even secondary sources on the costs to staff at schools dedicated to long days and school years. The burn-out and exhaustion of staff at KIPP schools, and the cost of finding and training replacements goes far to explaining that these are not scalable programs.

Some international comparisons are also worth making. Most schools in Europe go in the opposite direction of US thinking and practice: the school day is short, "wrap-around" services are not part of the school's portfolio, and sports and other clubs are part of the extra-scholastic social fabric, (where, it happens, non-teachers and non-parents can be significant adults.)

I am afraid "the more - the better" is too much from the same source that has kids practicing the same single sport year-round, starting as at young age as possible, and parents guilty if they have not inspired / forced / encouraged their kids to do so.

When I find that narrow academic gains come at the expense of 30% more time in on task --and resultant separation from much else in life -- I am not so impressed with the magnitude of those gains.

Posted by: incredulous | December 7, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I am all for more time in school, coupled with less homework. The least you can do is put the kids in a study hall for an hour per day, staffed by less than full teachers even, at the end of the day and it will help cure the balance between those that have an adequate home enviroment for doing homework and those that don't.

Posted by: staticvars | December 7, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Longer school days? I think it's more school days are needed. The 180 days has been around since the 1800s more fitting for a agricultural society. Today we are much more industrialized and technology savvy therefore we have to change. Comparing our educational system against other industrialized countries, you will find that other countries performed better. Germany requires 220 days of school is one example.
On a side note many children who came to this country have said that our circulum is easy compared what their home country requires (children of parents who transferred to companies in the USA.) What I often see is the politicization of the school curiculums and rules among various groups in order to influence who carries clout. This needs to stop. Parents needs to be involved with their kids' education to encourage them to get ahead in today's rapidly changing world.

Posted by: beeker25 | December 7, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Longer days, longer hours, after school hours, longer school year, smaller classes, better qualified teachers, etc. All of these suggestions have one common denominator, it all costs money. The suggestion to have teachers work longer hours for the same amount of pay and blaming it on the teachers’ unions is beyond obscure. For anyone who works for any big American corporation, does your boss expect you to work through your vacations without compensation? If you said “yes”, then you make a six figure salary. Teachers on average in my county make around $40,000 and work summer jobs to add to their incomes.

The conversation is really what can be done to keep teachers’ salaries competitive, so the best and brightest enter education? The answer to that question is complicated, because whatever you add to the bottom rung of the salary schedule flows through the entire salary schedule and becomes very costly towards the top of the salary structure. Until education is adequately funded, you get what you pay for… most of which comes from state property taxes and very little from federal taxes. Of that pot of money around 86% goes to salaries and benefits. So, if you want to change the service you are receiving, than change the quality of the service provider which is 100% of the time, the teacher. If you knew you could make a six figure salary as a teacher, would you have become one? Money makes a difference.

Posted by: kuboocd | December 7, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

In these tough economic times, states can't afford longer school days.

A previous poster raised the question of a longer school year. Choose one or the other; whatever you choose to lengthen, you have to shorten the other.

Want a longer school day? Are you willing to shrink the school year to 150 or 160 days?

Want a longer school year? Are you willing to shrink the school day to 5 1/2 or 6 hours?

Or do you really believe that you can justify effectively cutting teachers' pay by requiring significantly more work hours for the same money?

About fifteen years ago, my school district experimented with a year-round school program in one elementary school. The school year was still 180 days, but students were in school for nine weeks, and out of school for three. The three-week interim was used as enrichment and remediation--meaning that teachers had to be paid during that time.

All who were involved loved it. But the school system pulled the plug, because they couldn't afford to fund it.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. And there's no such thing as a free extended school day, either.

Posted by: ashevilleshep | December 7, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

beeker 25,

Here in Korea, the school year is 270 days.

Posted by: ericpollock | December 8, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

We need more school days AND longer days. I teach (at a university). One of the things I have realized is that time is the currency of teaching. The more time I have to spend with my students, the more they learn. It is that simple. More time gives us the ability to spend more time individually helping students, to have the students work on more interesting projects, and to go into more depth.
I also think that in this day and age, it is absurd to have schools running 8 to 2:30 when the rest of society operates on a 8 to 5 (or 6) schedule. Why does it take 8 or 9 hours to get our tasks done well at work, but only 6 hours to get our tasks done at school?

Posted by: bkmny | December 8, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

It's not the length of the school day or how many that is important as it is what we do with the time kids are THERE.

Currently teachers are losing ON AVERAGE 30/40/50% of what should be productive teaching time to managing disruptive, unfocused and unruly students. That's 60 DAYS out of the average school year.

It doesn't matter what else we try to do -- if we do not address this problem we'll just do the same things again and wonder why they don't work.

When recent studies and reports continue to confirm that "bad student behavior" is THE #1 problem facing teachers in the classroom, we know we have an issue. Right now, "teacher effectiveness" is a huge focus through Race to the Top and the recent $330M Gates Foundation grant to schools.

Rather than trying to add more time, what about maximizing the time they are already there? That can be done, within current budget levels. We'll see better academic achievement, less teacher attrition, more effective use of precious educational funds.

And the unions might be happy, too, because "poor working conditions" is usually the biggest complaint right after "inadequate pay."

I recently wrote a piece exploring this very idea of longer or more classroom days. If you're interested feel free to read:

Posted by: CorinneGregory | December 8, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

"In what other profession would workers be criticized for not wanting to work extra hours for the same pay? We expect our teachers to be role models; teach our kids *our* values (whatever those are); live perfect, blameless lives; go to games, plays, PTA meetings, etc; and attend continuing education sessions & classes without paying them as professionals. How many of you out there criticizing the teachers & unions would happily accept a longer work day without additional pay?"

Every other profession, actually. I have never in my life had a salaried, professional position that was confined to a set number of hours a week. I am paid a salary, and expected to work as many hours as necessary to complete my tasks. Some weeks that is 40 hours, other weeks that is 80 hours. I don't get comp time, over time or anything but goodwill when I work "extra" hours.

Teachers can't demand to be treated as professionals, when they are unwilling to work like other professionals. Teachers with experience earn just as much (between 50k-100k) as engineers, lawyers and doctors in general practice, and nobody expects the other professions to get hourly compensation when they have to work long days.

Posted by: jayef | December 8, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

At The After-School Corporation we’re piloting an expanded learning time model that shows great promise for replication in what you call regular public schools. We’re expanding learning time by at least 30 percent in 10 NYC public schools, just one of which is a charter school. The model (Expanded Learning Time/New York City: involves community organizations, such as settlement houses, entering into partnership with schools. Teachers collaborate with the community staff to offer kids both more academic time and enrichments such as arts. School funding streams (such as Title 1) are blended with traditional after-school funding streams to support the added learning time. We’re still evaluating outcomes, but given the economical cost model, it could be a strong candidate for scaling up to other schools and cities.

Posted by: jess_tonn | December 8, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I have a Master's degree, and six years experience and earn in the mid 40s. That would be very difficult to support a family on with a single income and with 80 hour workweeks somebody would have to stay home. Besides, workaholism is exacerbating the societal problem of family breakdown. A friend of mine shared her experience working in an affluent school. Behavior was an issue for many of the children because they never saw their parents. I like the idea of community partnerships because there are possible opportunities for family involvement, something to let the parents see another way while still being parents to their children. Part-time work in private agencies like our system hires is another option. Some of the tutors are HOMEmakers who left teaching but want part-time work. 80 hours a week is just sick for anybody. Turning EVERYONE of all social strata into cogs in the production machine and breaking up families all day long is not the solution. In fact, it is devaluing of family and the varied facets of human experience that got us into this jam to begin with.

Posted by: RootDrsPerennial | December 8, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Why is it that teachers are expected to work for free? You do not ask your auto mechanic, doctor, lawyer, or plumber to "do some extra", "take one for the team" or "just think about the kids". I am paid to work 7.5 hours per day, for 190 days. Of that time I have one 48 minute planning period, plus the 15 minutes before school starts and 30 minutes after school ends to do everything needed for the well over 100 kids I see during the day. That is less than one minutes per day, per kid! Take out of that time such absurdities as trekking to the office to "sign-in" like a factory worker, fill out mountains of needless forms, and sort through dozens of unnecessary emails per day and that time is severely limited. I am defacto forced to work "for free" outside of my contractual hours. (One full school year I kept detailed lawyer style time sheets. By my math I spend on average three hours per day OUTSIDE of the contractual day working on school business. By my math, the school systems owes me an extra 50% of my salary!) Want to extend the school day or lengthen the school year? Be ready to pony up the money. I have a novel idea,...lets pay teachers time and a half for over forty hours. Want to think about what that will cost?

Posted by: rsburton78 | December 8, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Year round schools would be more effective and less likely to burn out students.

Posted by: Galeso | December 9, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company