Nooooooooooo!! No Longer School Days, Less Vacation, Obama!

Hi Readers! Worrying that American students are falling behind their international counterparts, President Obama is floating the idea of longer school days and shorter vacations. This is about as uncreative a solution as a man all about “change” could possibly have come up with.

“Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas,” the president has said. “Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom.”

Really? Who’s to say American kids are lagging because they aren’t spending enough time in school? Maybe it’s because they aren’t spending enough time LEARNING TO DO THINGS ON THEIR OWN! Kids who organize their own games of kickball develop communication skills, compromise, agility. Kids who sit at home with a book develop imagination, smarts. Kids who bake a cake work on their math skills. Kids who babysit develop empathy, and all-important fridge-raiding skills. Kids who look for four-leaf clovers (my one hobby as a young child) develop…the need for glasses. But also patience and a respect for nature. 

There are so many “skills” a child does not get in the classroom, it is ridiculous to even have to argue this point. Especially because here’s the weirdest fact of all: Our kids already DO get more time in school.  Tampa Bay Online reports that:

Children in the United States spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do students in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the United States on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013).

So our kids should spend more time than they’re already spending even though with all that extra time they’re BEHIND? Couldn’t you interpret these numbers to say the LESS time kids spend in school the BETTER they do on math and science tests?

And it’s not like when you add on school hours there’s no trade-off! MORE school time means LESS self-direction. If we want to raise a nation of young people who never do anything without being told by an adult to do it, it’s hardly assured that we will end up with the kind of leaders and entrepresneurs Obama is looking for.

And besides: who will harvest our nation’s four leaf clovers? — Lenore

Yikes! A Speech!!

Next Tuesday is Pres. Obama’s speech to children, urging them to stay in school and read books and, for all I know, brush their teeth. It’s about that controversial…or so you’d think.

But of course, nothing is uncontroversial in these hyper-umbrage-taking days, so we’re hearing from some parents and school administrators and concerned citizens that this is wasting “valuable” school time and amounts to “brainwashing.” They’re treating the speech like it’s a heroin demo for first time users.

Can we please calm down? This is our President, the guy we elected to lead and inspire our nation, and here is his stated agenda for the speech (outlined on the U.S. Dept. of Education website): He hopes to encourage students to “work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.” The only thing kids are really in danger of is hitting their heads on the desks when they fall asleep.

One radio talk show host (the avatar of all things rational, of course) was quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t let my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I’m sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone.”

Uh, sir? Obama is talking to kids in their classrooms, not in a bathroom stall at Great Adventure. And if we stop talking to our neighbors AND listening to our President, this is just one weird, sad, crazy country that needs to be less totally paranoid about everything and everyone.

 But I guess we sort of knew that. — Lenore