Is extending the school year going to help with Ohio’s education reform? Ted Strickland, Governor of Ohio, thinks that this plan along with others will modernize Ohio’s education system. The Governor’s plan consists of adding twenty days to the school year, establish a universal full day kindergarten, and establish a teacher residency program.
In Governor Strickland’s 2009 State of the State Address , Mr. Strickland stated, “It is absolutely clear to me that simply tinkering with centuries-old education practices will not prepare Ohio’s children for success in college, for success in the workplace, or for success in life. Therefore, today, I present my plan to build our education system anew.”
According to a report that came out in January of 2009 by Education Week, Ohio schools rank the best in the Midwest and ranked sixth overall compared to the other fifty states and the District of Columbia.
Governor Strickland wants to start his reform in the Cleveland Municipal School District. The Cleveland school district has been lagging behind the rest of Ohio. The proposed education reform includes adding twenty more school days to the school year, taking the school year from 180 days to 200 days per year. That is a full extra month of school for the kids.
Education is constantly changing. Some of Governor Strickland’s proposed education reforms will help lagging school districts catch up. We have two children in one of Ohio’s school districts that is adjacent to Cuyahoga County’s Cleveland School District. Our school district is doing exceptionally well with test scores in the eighty-fifth percentile and above on the Ohio Graduation Test. Extending the school year will not help to increase Ohio’s education ranking or better prepare students for college or success in life.
Children should be allowed to be kids. That includes summer break, spring break, Christmas break, and all the other single day holidays that are included throughout the school year. Children need the down time to explore outside the classroom.
Not all education happens in the classroom. Summer break enables kids to play sports, take ballet, and do other extracurricular activities without it interfering with school work. This helps with leadership, cooperation, learning to play fair, and just having fun.
Summer breaks give older kids the opportunities to become the well rounded students that colleges look for. The students have ample time to work and still have fun. They can also have time to volunteer through their communities, churches, or national programs. Our community uses high school volunteers for day camps and safety town for five year olds.
Social skills are also enhanced over school breaks. Kids seek out friends instead of just hanging out with the kids in their classroom.
If the problem is in a handful of school districts, or just one school district, then we should focus our attention on the problem areas, not make statewide reforms. I appreciate that Governor Strickland’s focus is going to start in the Cleveland Municipal School District, but what works there may not work in other school districts.
Is Governor Strickland’s proposal to extend the school year a means to help parents with child care? If this is the case, then it is for all the wrong reasons. It is not up to the schools or the government to raise our children.
Some of Governor Strickland’s proposed education reforms seem to be on the right track. Accountability among teachers is long overdue. Every employer should hold employees accountable for their jobs. There should be no guaranteed tenure after only three years. The education reform proposes a tenure after nine years. This gives the school district time to evaluate the teachers and their performance.
Education reforms are needed in some Ohio school districts but extending the school year is not necessary. Implementing other reforms such as teacher residency and job accountability will help our children become successful in college, their jobs, and life.
Governor Ted Strickland’s Education Reform and Funding Plan