Just a note here on length of school days. We often hear about the advantage of longer days, so the question naturally is whether such a policy would work. And the answer is? Sort of.
Data from the Hechinger Report reveals a mixed performance when time in seat is compared with educational accomplishment. Of course, this points us back to the other reality, that it is not the day per se, but what fills the day that counts. There is an interesting intersection here with the question of class size, another favorite of reformers. Again, as Julie Mack at the Kalamazoo Gazette remarked,
If, as a high school parent, I had the choice between putting my kid in a class of 17 with a mediocre teacher or 34 with a great teacher, I’d choose the latter, hands down.
So our reform efforts keep coming back to the reality of what happens inside those four walls, and what we can do to improve that interaction. It’s the teacher. And that makes the continual sniping at teachers rather frustrating. There is a political point here, after all the teachers are typically in the Dem camp, although it escapes how the sniping and destructive language particularly helps toward better schools. The danger has been that the partisans latch on to nostrums — structural fixes — while assaulting the soft part of the equation; we actively lop off the very branches we stand on, the platform we need for success.