More Time in the Classroom: An Idea Whose Time has Come

The words that are uttered in State of the State addresses do not always become reality, but it was hard to ignore the "call for a longer school year" this week from Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

School reform measures are popular in discussion, although many don’t receive the implementation they deserve. Charter schools, vouchers, scholarship tax credits and performance pay for teachers do, at least, get to the table in the talks. But what about spending more time at task? Hardly, if ever mentioned.

Indiana (and most of the rest of the country’s) school day was set up at about the same time as our state’s local government structure. The 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day — allowing students to work on the farm both before and after classes, as well as during the summer months — was fine when agriculture was king. Today, science and math are among the keys to a productive future and young people from other countries are eating our proverbial school lunch when it comes to those subjects.

The 180 days that Indiana students are required to attend school is among the lowest in the country and pales in comparison to many around the world. A longer school day? Maybe. A traditional school year that doesn’t end in late May or early June? Why not? It’s at least time to explore the ideas.

For more on Strickland’s education plans in Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer offers a summary.