Ohio governor proposes longer school year, adding a month

Posted Monday, February 2, 2009 9:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Gov. Ted Strickland's proposal last week to tack another 20 days onto the school year may mean an educational boost for the state's students, but it would mean big changes for many others. Those who run tourist sites such as Cedar Point amusement park said they will take a hit if the school year lengthens.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:09 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Fair enough.

But it has traditionally been good enough (if not more than enough) so what changed to let us slip?

Is the answer really time alloted?


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:20 AM
Jeff's avatar

And that's what I keep going back to, this story. Whether or not the schools are adequate and which ones are isn't at issue. The issue in this case is whether or not putting kids in school more makes a difference, and we haven't seen anything that leads us one way or another. (There was a study a ways back about how getting kids in school at ridiculously early morning times was detrimental, and I still wonder why we haven't acted on that.)

Did anyone see Bill Gates' TED talk? He spent half of the time talking about what makes good teachers, and how we don't actually know, and that's part of the problem. Good stuff to read.

And excuse my "anecdote" about urban vs. suburban schools. I didn't think that required data because everyone already knows that.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:41 AM

But it has traditionally been good enough (if not more than enough) so what changed to let us slip?

The executive summary says it: it's not so much that we're doing worse, it's that we're staying about the same, and other countries are doing better.

This is what competition in the marketplace is all about. It's not good enough to make the same widget for the same costs in the same time next year as it was this year. You've got to make it cheaper, faster, and/or better. If you don't, someone else will come along with a cheaper/better/faster widget, and they will eat your lunch.

You're either getting better, or your falling behind. It's really that simple. And, in the US, we don't think we need to be getting better. We think we are already great, and that ought to be good enough. After all, we're on top of the world, right? Why can't we just keep doing what we're doing and stay there?

Ask the UK how that worked out for them in the early 1900s.

Is the answer really time alloted?

If other things are going well, it helps. It probably doesn't hurt unless your school is seriously dysfunctional. It may not be the most effective use of resources in many schools. In "average" places, it might be preferable to take the money it would cost to keep them open one more month, and improve the quality of your staff instead by paying more and attracting better people. In "crisis" places, it's probably better to take that money and figure out how to feed the kids with it, because that's likely to be your first problem.

I didn't think that required data because everyone already knows that.

You'd be surprised at how many things "everyone knows" are false. Like "everyone knows" that the US is the pinnacle of higher education.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:49 AM
rollergator's avatar

IMO, the answer I've seen is that most of the people writing (and enforcing) education-related legislation send their kids to.....private schools. They've got no insight into how public schools operate (or in most cases, don't).


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:53 PM
Jeff's avatar

Hey, we don't even fund our schools in a legal fashion in this state, so what do you expect? :)

But on the time thing, a bunch of "probably" isn't good enough for me. Coming in to a new job a few months ago I saw all kinds of broken and complex things, but it's irresponsible of me to try and fix anything because it's "probably" helpful. It wastes time and money, and those are two things we can't afford when it comes to schools.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:02 PM

I guess the strongest possible statement is: if your schools are competent (i.e. they focus on time-on-task, with frequent, timely, substantive feedback) then the pedagogical literature indicates that more of that would produce better results. It's the "if they're competent" part that's the problem.

However, I suspect this is "the solution" because it's the politically expedient one. "Paying more to get better staff" translates to "firing some of the teachers we have now." And, that means tangling with the union, and no governor in his or her right mind would do that unless they have a solid majority of support that can withstand organized labor's onslaught. "Using resources to fix the most broken schools" translates to "rob from the rich and give to the poor." I don't know how that plays in Ohio, but it's tough sledding in Michigan. Ohio tends to be more conservative than Michigan, politically, so I'd imagine it's even harder there.

As an aside, this conversation has been really useful for me in the moment. In a typical 80 minute lecture, I have a couple periods where I ask the students to work on problems in small groups (time on task) and I walk around answering questions and making observations (timely, substantive feedback). This works surprisingly well, even in 200+ person lecture halls---in large classes, I have my GSIs circulate the room with me. I switched to this model (from "straight lecture") about 7 years ago, and my students measurably improved in their ability to synthesize (vs. analyze or regurgitate).

However, as the term develops, some of them start slacking off during these little interludes. Today was particularly bad, in part because it's a dreary wet day---very low energy in the room. So, I gave them the speech about the least/most effective ways of learning, and reminded them that it's a tough world out there: they need to get better, or someone will eat their lunch.

The rest of that lecture is one of the best I've ever had. I had 120 kids working hard, doing stuff and asking questions. I'm going to have to work this little speech mid-way through every term from now on.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:06 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

rollergator said:
IMO, the answer I've seen is that most of the people writing (and enforcing) education-related legislation send their kids to.....private schools. They've got no insight into how public schools operate (or in most cases, don't).

I tend to agree with you there. That, and I think the kind of intervention that is required is so complex that it can't be met with simple, across-the-board legislative action. We seem to think we can apply a new standard or law to all involved and it will make things better. The system itself is far too complex for that, let alone the participants (aka students.)

So, does anyone know how long the average school year is in the countries we seem to be losing ground to in terms of competition? I'm just curious.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:23 PM

I linked to a chart with many of them at the very bottom of this post:
http://coasterbuzz.com/Forums/Thread/55238.aspx?page=2#765432

The US standard of 180 days/36 weeks is near the low end, but Japan is only 35 weeks.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:27 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Thanks. I'm sorry I missed that earlier.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:11 PM
rollergator's avatar

Brian Noble said:I switched to this model (from "straight lecture") about 7 years ago, and my students measurably improved in their ability to synthesize (vs. analyze or regurgitate).

Ahhhh, but the beauty of the "standardized testing model" necessitated by NCLB is that teachers below college level have no use for synthesizing or analyzing - they just need to vomit up the same stuff teacher taught during those nap-times we call a school day. Every single day that goes by, I'm thankful for the sacrifices my mom made to get me into a private school. Socially, it wasn't the best outcome (I've since adapted fairly well, LOL), but instruction-wise.... it took me to grad school at UF to even begin "educating" me on that level again.


Carrie M. said:

We seem to think we can apply a new standard or law to all involved and it will make things better. The system itself is far too complex for that, let alone the participants (aka students).

But if a one-size-fits-all model doesn't work, how can we be sure everyone gets a "fair" education (tongue firmly and entirely in cheek)?

Last edited by rollergator, Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:11 PM

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:36 PM

thebeauty of the "standardized testing model" necessitated by NCLB is thatteachers below college level have no use for synthesizing or analyzing

You should see the looks I get when I announce that I design my exams to be about 55-60% synthesis, 40% analysis, and 0-5% regurgitation, and that I expect to see mean scores in the low 60s and a standard deviation in the mid-teens.

They don't believe me at first. Then, they take the midterm. Good times.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 4:11 PM
Jeff's avatar

There's no question in my mind that straight lecture sucks. It's just not engaging. And it seems most every college intro class is like that.

Whether it's mentoring younger software developers or teaching teenage girls to play volleyball, the one consistent thing that I've observed in these teaching roles is that if you give people the opportunity to own, discover and manipulate the thing they're tasked with, more will take that opportunity than not.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 5:15 PM

There'sno question in my mind that straight lecture sucks. It's just notengaging. And it seems most every college intro class is like that.

Pretty much. Though, one of my best undergraduate courses of all time was Intro Sociology. It was cavernous-lecture-hall, speak-at-you-for-80-minutes, but every lecture was great. The professor was Harry Edwards, who is best known for his work on race in sports culture, and is often credited as being the principal organizer behind the movement that eventually led to Smith and Carlos' Black Power salute during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

That man could hold a room, and I hung on every word.


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Thursday, January 7, 2010 12:38 PM

They just do a lot of really cool stuff, and with more time, could do more cool stuff.

Yes, for your children's school, they might, but not for everyone elses. We can't just base this decision on one school or one school district.

I'm a student in highschool and to learn that they might add more days to the school year infuriates me. Frankly, I can't wait till I'm done with school. I feel as if no kids have a say in this decision. Excuse me, but we are the ones who are going to be affected by this! Yes you might say that a ton of kids would not want to stay in school and you already know that, but isn't that a big enough sign? I already put more than 100 days into school out of my 365 days. Yes I want to be successful when I'm older and I thank all my teachers, but to make Ohio students sit in a classroom 7hrs a day while other kids are outside playing in the summer or on the beach in a different state, is just not right. Because of the days we had to make up for last summer, I missed my family member going off to the Army. Sorry, but no. I definetly do not want to spend another month in a classroom, sitting for 7 hrs straight and not being allowed outside, anymore. We have put in 12 years plus the years for college. Isn't that enough? My parents spent that much in school without extra days, and my dad is a wealthy doctor and my mother is a nurse. We will probably have more drop outs if we add more days. I'm sticking up for the kids who this will affect, because apparently they are helpless...

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Thursday, January 7, 2010 2:00 PM
Jeff's avatar

Since when do kids get to decide how much school is good for them? Based on what experience?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, January 7, 2010 2:33 PM
kpjb's avatar

Kaitlyn Darby said:
I already put more than 100 days into school out of my 365 days... to make Ohio students sit in a classroom 7hrs a day ... is just not right.

Yeah, in 2009 I put 294 of my 365 days in to work at about 9 hours a day. Life doesn't get any easier. Suck it up.


Hi

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Thursday, January 7, 2010 2:43 PM

Welcome to CoasterBuzz, Kaitlyn. Perhaps with your second post, you won't resurrect a nearly year-old thread.


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