School Year too Long in Oregon

The school year, and the school day for that matter, are both way too long in Oregon. Students are not being served well by forced attendance for 172 days each year. While at school, many students are actually in class for six hours or more (including study hall). This is simply too much. Studies have repeatedly shown no correlation between the amount of time in class and performance in specific subject matter.

Whatever happened to the notion that education begins in the home? Parents should spend a couple hours each day helping their children learn. That is place to start. With that happening we can cut at least an hour off the early morning start times. No child should be forced to get to school any earlier than 9:00 AM. Once at school focus should be on things that can not be done at home, like gym class, band, cheer, student government, industrial arts, etc. Few homes have the resources or the number of children present to replicate these activities. Some math, English, history, and science could be handled at school, but these classes should not be any longer than 40 minutes considering the attention span of today’s students. Most of the time should be spent presenting an overview with focus on the details left up to the student to handle at his or her own pace. The students must be home before it is dark and before there is too little time to play, so students should be dismissed at 2:00 PM or earlier.

And why are students forced to attend classes 172 days each year? This is simply ridiculous. If you look at what colleges do, they have the answer. Meet a couple times a week for under an hour and the rest of the time is free for the student to pursue learning on his or her own or with help from a teaching assistant. And only meet from the end of September to sometime in early December — 8 – 10 weeks max — and repeat a couple times. Teachers could keep office hours for students who needed extra help. Using this collegiate model school should not be in session any longer than 33 weeks per year. If you allow for holidays and vacation time, then, the optimum length of a school year is no more than 165 days with instruction time strictly limited to 6 hours per day maximum.

The school calendar is based on an agrarian society, but with less than 1% of our population actually on the farm, this makes no sense. Students are no longer needed to work the fields, harvest the grain, and slaughter the cattle. We can easily cut days from the current school schedule just through efficiency alone. Students have access to the Internet, where almost any question can be answered, and so more of their time learning can be spent at home on line or in the local library. There is simply no need for the massive amounts of wasted time in class that are now occurring throughout the state.

And think of the money we can save. We only have to pay the teachers for 165 days of work! They are now getting paid for 190 days of work. This could be quite a savings. And the heat and cooling for the school buildings, the maintenance, everything not being used is money in the bank. Many districts have gone to the four day week with little or no ill-effects.

Instruction time can and should be reduced. Now.

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Posted by at 07:51 | Posted in Measure 37 | 36 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • John Fairplay

    A reduction of instructional days in the public schools to zero would be a good thing for the nation.

    • Lori

      AMEN… End Government Schools!

    • eagle eye

      I would have to something else in place first. So far, there is little public enthusiasm, even for vouchers, let alone abolishing the public schools.

  • Crawdude

    The teachers get paid for the entire year. Regardless of whether they do 165 or 190 days worth of work, they get paid for 365. Cutting the school years days would be ineffective as a money saving action.

    Many parents aren’t willing to spend the time educating their kids, cutting school days can’t change that, unfortunately.

    • John in SoCal

      Actually teachers get paid by the minute if you can believe it… At least here in CA they do. Most districts are unified and their collective bargaining agreements breakdown their salaries by the minutes they teach. So in essence would be taking a huge chunk of money away from thousands and thousands of teachers who really won’t be that motivated to raise test scores and educate after that.

      And in response to John Fairplay, so no school would be a good thing for the nation huh? What do you think the founders of this nation would think of that statement knowing that they intended to have an informed society and that it was the role of the government to make certain of this. Our choice… over the years has been our current form of public schools in which ADA (average daily attendance) is the way schools or more accurately school districts receive the bulk of their monies to spend on salaries, curriculum, buildings, etc.

    • pk2

      Much work. Teachers work more than a standard day. That is why they have to take their work home. They take many calls at home. They attend many school sporting events, meet parents nights and evening student performances. The summer is their way to break from the all day race. Deserved.

      • Crawdude

        No more deserving than the average, hard working citizen. The ones who have to put in overtime 12 months out of the year to pay the taxes that pay the teachers who work 9-10 months out of the year with all Federal holidays off.

        They have what they have due to their contract, whether people agree or disagree with it, it is what it is.

        Nothing they do makes them anymore deserving of anything more than the average parent has. They may have rationalized that they are more deserving but they aren’t.

  • Bob Clark

    I don’t know about the school year being too short, but I did find my senior year of highschool to be rather a waste. The curriculum was pretty much a repeat of what I had already studied intensely in prior years. I’ve heard England and Europeans differentiate between student career paths at the age 16, with some pursuing vocational school while others go on to college prepatory schooling. I would prefer a school system with more learning options, such as charter schools, community college highschool education completion, and on-line courses with highschool credits. The public education system needs to loosen up more and allow for more than the current cookie cutter one-size fits all structure.

    • Bernie

      My senior year was great. But then, I loaded up on hard-core courses that I knew would do me well in college — AP History, calculas, advanced chemistry, advanced English.

      Sure, I could have coasted through my senior year. But I wanted to learn. Fortunately my high school (PA) accomodated me.

  • dartagnan

    This is a satire, right? Right? Somebody please tell me this is a satire.

    American kids are lagging behind their counterparts elsewhere in the world in virtually every area of knowledge, and the right-wing solution is … LESS SCHOOL! And the time spent in school should be devoted to the IMPORTANT stuff like sports, cheerleading and band.

    Of course an ignorant, easily manipulated population is exactly what the right wing wants — it’s easier to sell their bullshit that way.

    • Jerry


      You win the prize.

      You were the first to correctly identify this as pure satire – and you were absolutely correct.

      What should really suprise you is that the whole argument laid out above is based on the minimum hours of instruction CURRENTLY required for high school students in Oregon!!!

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