Recently, several states including New York announced that they would be adding a whopping 300 additional hours to the school year. Most New York students breathed a sigh of relief, however, when they found out that the only participating district in New York State is the Rochester City schools. Nonetheless, students are buzzing about the possible spread of the extended school day “fever.” Although Rochester and the other participating areas have yet to decide whether to lengthen the school year, the school day, or both, I question whether the idea of spending even more time at school will really benefit the student learning experience.
Let’s face it: If schools are going to add time to the school day or year, it’s going to cost them and the taxpayers.
Williamsville North junior Tim Brown agrees.
“School taxes are already high enough while we have two months off,” he said. “Think about what would happen if citizens had to pay for one or two more months.”
With more student days come more employee days, school lunches, bus rides and building maintenance costs. Here is the bottom line: Will spending more money to pay for an extended school day actually be worth it?
I think not. Lengthening the school day may not necessarily promote learning. Even if a few more minutes were added on to each class, would those few minutes actually amount to much?
Williamsville North junior Sarah King said, “All schools would be doing is diminishing the time students need for homework, after-school activities and spending time with our families. It’s not the best solution.”
What would be the more likely result of this extra time? More stress, anxiety and general exhaustion. Many students are already overcome with accelerated courses and full schedules; they don’t need one less hour of rest.
Lengthening the school year doesn’t seem to be the best option either. Students’ summer vacations are just as important as their school years. For students, learning goes beyond English, math and science during the summer months. Many students spend July and August gaining valuable work experience, attending driver’s education and school-sponsored programs, and being immersed in nature and culture through summer camps and family vacations. Students who need extra time in school are getting it already through summer school. Those who have extra time are taking extra courses. Essentially, our summer months provide necessary growth for students that is not achievable in the classroom. It seems downright unfair to reduce the short, priceless time students spend outside of school.
But there’s still hope. Although public school administrators have good intentions, I think they’re focusing on improving the wrong aspects of their schools. What about smaller class sizes? New curriculum? Mandatory tutoring programs for struggling students? Greater parental support? Quantity isn’t necessarily as important as quality. There is more than one way to enrich the public school system. From my point of view, however, extending the time spent in school is certainly not the way to do it.
Cari Hurley is a junior at Williamsville North High School.
Many students are already overcome with accelerated courses and full schedules; they don’t need one less hour of rest.