Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett sent a memo to Indiana’s public school superintendents today outlining the need for a full 180 day school year. He states his case as follows:
I believe strongly that schools must do everything in their power to ensure students receive the full 180 days of education as prescribed by state law. Please be advised that beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, it will no longer be the practice of the Department of Education to adopt emergency policies allowing schools to apply for waivers of the financial penalty for canceled instructional days.
As President Obama said last week in unveiling his education agenda, "the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."
We expect schools to find ways to ensure the 180 day standard is met, despite cancellation of school days due to severe weather or other emergencies. A full instructional day is defined in law as five hours of instruction at the elementary level and six hours of instruction at the secondary level. Lunch and recess are not counted as instructional time…
The Department of Education stands ready to assist school corporations in planning their calendars and seeking creative solutions to guarantee students receive the 180 days of classroom instruction prescribed in state statute.
Our own Derek Redelman lauded the decision in an Indy Star article:
Derek Redelman, vice president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, applauded Bennett’s decision, saying it was a step closer to ensuring Indiana children are in class long enough to compete in a global economy.
The state originally required 180 days of class as a compromise, with the understanding that it would work toward a much longer school year, he said.
"We are seeing that our competitors around the world are getting kids into school longer," Redelman said. "I think it’s pretty clear that you can cover more material if you’re in school more."