Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers Staff –
Though many students across the nation may not like an extra month in the classroom, the extra classroom time would benefit them, President Obama said.
“That month makes a difference,” Obama said during a recent appearance on the “Today Show”. “It means that kids are losing a lot of what they learn during the school year during the summer. It’s especially severe for poorer kids who may not see as many books in the house during the summers; [they] aren’t getting as many educational opportunities.”
According to Obama, American students are falling behind some of their international counterparts, particularly in the math and science fields. He added that Chinese, Indian, and other students of fast-growing countries are already leaving U.S. students in the dust.
Currently, U.S. schools offer an average of 180 school days per year, according to data from the Education Commission of the States, in comparison to 196 and 197 days in countries with the highest student achievement levels like Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, and Japan.
Obama also believes that teachers should be more highly honored, as they are in China and other countries, but he added that teachers that aren’t doing well should be fired. While the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” is mandating improvement among the nation’s schools, the President believes parents should increase their involvement in the children’s education.
Asked about whether his own daughters’ would receive the same quality education at a D.C. public school they now receive at their private institution, Obama said during the interview: “I’ll be blunt with you: The answer is no right now.” The president said D.C. public schools are “struggling.”
Critics of the president’s plan to extend the school year believe it will have a severe economic impact, saying the extra time would increase costs for school systems, cause major losses to the country’s summer hospitality industry and have a severe impact on summer camp operations.
“From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we hire many high school and college students for summer employment to work,” Joe McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association told Fox News. “If we don’t have those people, there will not be enough Americans out there available to fill those positions.”
Though the president believes an extended school year would be “money well spent,” others question how struggling states and districts could pay for it.
“It comes down to the old bugaboo, resources,” Scott Smith, Mesa, Ariz. mayor told the AP. “It costs money to keep kids in school. Everyone believes we can achieve greater things if we have a longer school year. The question is: ‘How do you pay for it?”