President Obama is pressing to increase the number of hours students spend in the classroom, both per day and per year. He says “American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe. … But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom.”
The president wants schools “to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.”
My my. Who needs parents when the government is willing to take over the job? Our schools are unquestionably failing, especially compared with other countries. Therefore, in a typical government solution, Obama’s proposal involves taking this failure and multiplying it.
Of course, these extra hours would deprive children of any semblance of family time. Which, come to think of it, might be precisely the point. Parents can be so annoying about wanting to impart their own personal values on their children. Three hundred more hours of non-parental supervision per year ought to quash that quaint notion.
Besides, with the flood of sexually-transmitted diseases rampant among our young people, it’s clear they’re not spending enough time learning to put condoms on bananas. With all the proposed extra school time, the possibilities for acquiring new “skills” are endless. I’m certain other students around the globe have achieved such high academic standards because of their military precision in applying prophylactics to fruit.
As usual, there are some parents who welcome the idea of extra school time. These are the parents who blindly send their children to government indoctrination centers for most of their waking hours, then seem surprised when their kids emerge from high school unable to read or cipher with any competency. But at least they will possess an inflated self-esteem and a superb grasp of manufactured environmental calamities.
I think this is because a lot of parents have visions that school still consists of diligent children sitting obediently at their desks, heads bent over math and science books, dutifully absorbing important information that will lead to superior performances on tests. Think of the descriptions of schools in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and you’ll get the idea. Schools are places of discipline, respect and high academic standards, aren’t they?
Of course, there are also those parents who would approve of more government school time simply because it makes their lives easier. These are the parents who already learned the lessons taught by the government schools they attended: Responsibility is bad. Duty is outdated. Government is good. My needs are paramount. For these parents, the indoctrination was successful.
Why do I call it indoctrination? Do the math (if you can). With an extra 300 hours per year of school time, the average kid would see his teacher(s) for about 10 hours a day. He would see his parents for about five hours a day (if he’s lucky). If schools are open on weekends as well, then parents would spend even less time with their children. And let’s face it, the more your children are out of your sphere of influence, the more they pick up (ahem) social “skills” and attitudes that depart, sometimes radically, from what you hold dear.
It’s not that I object to curtailing the length of summer vacation in favor of longer breaks elsewhere through the year. Obama correctly points out that our current school schedule came from our agrarian roots, when kids were needed on the farm. But the object of increasing school time isn’t to smooth out inequities in the school year – the object is to get kids to spend more time in school. And, by extension, to keep kids away from home and further decrease the influence of their parents.
Call me a conspiracy nut, but I believe this is what underlies any increased governmental involvement with school. As any World War II historian can tell you, convincing children that the government is more moral, important and correct than their own parents is a critical step toward raising drones of the state. Under optimal conditions, kids will even spy on their own parents and report any unacceptable behavior, opinions, or other illicit activities to the proper authorities. More schooling equals more influence.
Oh, and it would cost about $1,300 more per student to increase school time. Just in case you wondered.
Keep in mind that our schools were not failing until they came under government monopoly and until the NEA became a major lobbying force. The fact that private schools and homeschools effortlessly surpass government schools in academic standards as well as moral development (for a fraction of the cost) illustrates the absurdity that per-pupil spending or increased hours make any difference whatsoever.
If American schools want to compete against the academically superior schools in other nations, might I modestly suggest that we look at the content of those schools rather than merely the hours? I somehow doubt Japanese or Taiwanese students are frittering away their school time playing with prophylactics, propping up their self-esteem, or fussing about social justice. Rather, these students are taught discipline, self-control and high academic standards. Duh. This ain’t rocket science, folks.
I recall a friend whose 7-year-old daughter’s teacher spent two weeks teaching about … teddy bears. At first my friend thought this was a “unit study” approach to learning about economics and manufacturing, but no – it was simply a fun, engaging (and time-wasting) effort to keep children interested. And we wonder why Japan beats us in math? But hey, at least her kid wasn’t learning creative uses for bananas. Unless they used anatomically correct teddy bears or something.
As a homeschooling mom, I fully admit being blatantly biased against government indoctrination centers. I believe their purpose is to convince children to disregard parental authority and standards, and replace them with government standards. Longer school hours would neatly achieve this goal.
Next week I’ll explain my theories about the purpose of education – and I don’t necessarily mean the curriculum.