Educational Editorial: Adding hours to school year

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The North Carolina Legislature with good intent decided to add five days and 25 hours of instruction for schools when it passed it 2011-2013 budget. This would bring the school calendar to 185 days in contrast with the traditional 180 days.

In part a result of persistent comparisons with longer school years in other countries, policy makers are now finding that for every action there is a reaction…but not necessarily the one that was intended.

Burke County, N.C., will have its students for three more days this coming year but it is not likely that anyone will notice the change…they are adding six minutes to the day.

Something seems to be lost in the state versus local control chess match and the losers are likely the taxpayers.

The additional time was also tied to state funding…and so the locals countered with their own "gaming" strategy.

In reality, the entire drama is a straw man. While there is much research about "time on task" in schools, there is far less research about the kinds of tasks and the quality of the time.

Using the Frederick Taylor "time and motion" ideas of early 20th century industrialized America, we tend to think that the way to gain productivity is to increase the amount of time worked.

In reality, the issue is not about "more," it is about how you use the time that you have. How much time do we spend in schools on topics and tasks that are unrelated to English, Math, Science, and History?

My Grandmother would frequently say, "it is not about working faster, it is about working smarter."

Perhaps policymakers should spend less time with organizational theorists and more time with grandmothers.

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