Sunday, March 01, 2009

Secretary Duncan wants longer school years

I saw this article today, and thought good for him.

Good for us.

Good for America.

Good for kids.

But I am realistic to know that he is going to meet a LOT of resistance.

Secretary Duncan is proposing longer school days, and longer school years. Which is a great idea, in theory. Other countries are doing it, and their students are leaps and bounds above where our students are.

However, one has to take into account the money that we are talking here. Teacher's salaries, bus drivers, gas, food, support staff etc. With districts talking about cutting back on staff, bus trips etc, I am wondering how hard of a sell job he is going to have to push this through.

Districts are already cutting back on professional development days in attempt to save money, but that just means that we as teachers spend more of our unpaid time getting ready, taking classes, doing whatever we can to help these children, and in some cases spending more of our own money doing these things.

Perhaps Secretary Duncan is proposing that teachers teach more days for the salary that we make now at 190 working days. I sincerely hope not, since most of us actually work on work for our classrooms/schools between 210 and 230 days on our own without getting paid now. This is when you take into account the nights of PTO, faculty meetings, board meetings, parent teacher conferences where we are at our schools until 5, 6, 7, even 8 pm, and not recieving over time for it. Take into account that on average each teacher spends an hour or two each afternoon after their dismissal time working on grading papers, writing tests, communicating with parents, and revamping their lesson plans because something didn't happen when it should have. Then you take into account the 6 to 8 hours each weekend working on lesson plans, grading papers, researching activities for our students to do. And you have to take into account the days spent over holidays, when the school is open that we go into the school to prepare on our own, our classrooms.

I hope he is not going to propose we do more for less, we work more for the same. We already spend hundreds if not thousands of our own money out of our own pockets to make our student's lives a little bit nicer, and we are only given a tax break for $250 for it. Trust me, I had that spent before July was out, for this school year, not counting the money I spent on the classrooms I was subbing in last year.

I hope that in this grand plan of his that he takes into account the extra money on supplies, like paper, copier ink, pencils, and pens. Things that schools start running out of about now in the school year, things that teachers really start sweating about now.

I hope in this grand plan of his he has a plan for how to provide more money for more food for the students who get free and reduced lunches every day.

I hope in this grand plan that he puts in provisions for how we as schools can better handle behavior issues. Because the longer we are in school, the more those issues come out. Gives the schools more options on how they can help, or handle the problems.

I hope in this grand plan he puts in provisions on how to handle the parents that do not support the school no matter what. Their child is right and that adult talking about their child is wrong and there is not anything anyone can say about it.

I see where he is coming from with this grand plan and I understand what he thinks needs to happen and even why it needs to happen. But the piddly amount of money from the stimulus plan that is being tossed towards education is not going to get us there.

I agree that the education system needs changes, and that more days in school would probably help our students achieve greater hieghts. I am just realistic enough to look at the challenges that we are facing.
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