Ohio tourism executives want alternative to longer school year

Posted Monday, March 30, 2009 9:29 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Among many components of the Ohio governor's proposed reform, Ted Strickland is hoping to phase the 20 extra days into the school year within the next 10 years by adding four days every two years. Tourism officials, including Cedar Fair executives, say the impact on their business would be substantial.

Read more from The Sandusky Register.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009 3:27 PM

I don't know, ApolloAndy. Okay, yeah, before high school, it's certainly a fallacy. But once they graduate from high school, there are definitely some people who belong in college and some who do not. Working at a University I occasionally encounter a few of the latter. it isn't because they aren't smart (our admissions ARE somewhat selective!) it's just that some people are not...for lack of a better expression...of a college temperament.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 3:40 PM

When I was 18 years old I was not "College Material". I hated school and actually dropped out of HS my senior year. At 31, when I did go to college, I breezed through 3 degrees including a BS (Cum Laude) and a Masters (4.0) in just over 4 years. Someone may not be ready during or even after high-school but later in life revel in it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 3:44 PM


I think it has much more to do with things that can be changed (such as approach, mentality, study skills, commitment, motivation) than things that can't be changed (like intelligence or background). I guess what I'm trying to get at is when kids come to me in 9th grade and say, "I'm just not college material" I cringe.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 12:54 AM

RideMan said:My experience was that any day before Labor Day and any day after Memorial Day was pretty much wasted in school. Okay, so exams were given after Memorial Day but that was about it. Many classes actually did their last exams early and spent the last week or so on pretty frivolous stuff, because there was a lot of non-academic activity going on that, combined with the 90+-degree temperatures in the classrooms (many of the windows in the ancient building were jammed/painted/bolted shut, and the most of the ones that could open could only open 4". Thank God the ones in the computer lab were able to open 4' instead...) meant that there was precious little academic work going on for that last week or two.Homework is another issue that needs to be examined. As adults we are expected to put in an 8-hour work day...but now we are expecting our children to work for ten? I remember the school day being seven hours long. That means at most they're entitled to another hour a night on average. There is more to life than schoolwork, and our educational system needs to reflect that. What opportunities for real learning are lost because students are stuck with a mountain of work that they probably shouldn't be doing in the first place?Why are our schools basically set up to teach our children that education is a chore, something that you spend an ever increasing amount of your time enduring. Why aren't our schools concentrating on teaching our children (for lack of a better description) how to learn, and turning our students into inquisitive, life-long learners? Our system of schooling teaches our children to hate learning, and that, to me, is a serious crime. Fix that, and you'll get better results by making the school year *shorter*.--Dave Althoff, Jr.

I'd liek to respond to a couple of things. First off, I teach in a University setting, dealing with freshmen engineering students. In general, I have to say, their preparation for college ranges from OK to abysmal. I know there are some schools which have students putting in 2 - 3 hours of homework per night. That being said, the vast majority of students when we survey them indicate they spent 1/2 hour or less on homework.And in terms of the length of the day, they may physically be in school for 7 hours. But, take away 40 minutes for lunch, 5 minutes between classes (granted that qualifies as a "break", homeroom (which serves only administrative purposes), the actual educational time during the day is probably at best 6 hours. And then taking away physical educations (gym, etc.) that might drop to slightly over 5 hours. So, effectively students spend slightly more than 5 hours "learning" material, yielding about 900 hours of instruction per year. If that is the case, then 1 - 2 hours of homework per night is not that outlandish. That certainly is a lot less than the 2 - 3 hours of study per credit hour college students need to put in to be successful. (A college student with an 16 credit hour load should be putting in between 48 and 64 hours per week between class and studying.)And from an 8 hour day, I would love to work an 8 hour day... I'd love to work a 10 hour day as well, but often I'm working 10 - 12 hours 5 - 6 days per week. (And that was how it was in industry before I went into academics as well.)As a nation, our education is seriously lagging behind other countries. Is a longer school year a magic bullet? No. But, by the same token, our current 8 1/2 month schedule was created back in the mid 1800's, when we were an agregarian nation and kids were needed on the farm for the summer. In this context, it is highly outdated. Ohio is addressing a problem, that is a brain drain caused by a lack of technology companies in the state. (I know; I grew up there, but had to leave due to the lack of jobs.) They are making a tough decision that needs to be made.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 1:20 AM

Regarding study time, I was grossly unprepared when I entered college. In high school, I received 30 mins. of homework or usually less, per week. When I started college, I began to receive about 15 hours of homework per week and had to spend another 10-15 hours per week studying. 25-30 hours per week studying and doing homework, plus a part-time job, which I didn't have during high school, was a massive shock to the system after I breezed through high school with almost no effort, and was still on Principals Honor Roll all four years. In high school, sometimes I did homework during class because school was so easy and I had nothing else to do during class. I knew that I could do homework at school and figure out whatever the teacher was teaching at the same time. Throw in the fact that most of the stuff I learned in high school (or earlier) and college, I have never used again and I would have to say that both systems need an overhaul.

Edit: I forgot to mention that the Biology class I took in my senior year in high school was listed as a college prep class. It still only had 20 mins. of homework per week and didn't require any additional study time.

Last edited by SFMMAddict, Thursday, April 2, 2009 1:49 AM
Thursday, April 2, 2009 11:49 AM

Interesting. Of course, part of what you were seeing with that Bio class might have been a lab focus, too...

I never really counted up the number of hours I had to spend in or out of class. But in any given semester of college, I was usually taking about 15-18 credit hours, which translates to 12.5-15 hours of actual class time per week (a 3-hour class meets either 50 minutes per day, 3 days per week, or 75 minutes per day twice a week, so each credit hour is 50 minutes of class time). With that in mind, an additional 22.5-25 hours per week of out-of-class activity doesn't seem so unreasonable, and I am not sure I ever had to put quite that much effort into my classes. Of course, in some ways I'm a special case: I was a Broadcasting major, and as the chairman of the Speech department was fond of saying, "Your lab for this class is every waking hour of your life." Maybe even more than that, as the rule goes, "You can not not communicate." To complicate matters even further, my campus job was working in the same studio where I had to do class projects, so between projects, classes, and production for my job I ended up spending about 45 hours a week in the TV studio, doing production and cutting tape...

(and nearly 20 years later, I still maintain that same studio as part of my real job...)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 6:24 PM

Yes, the Bio class did have a minimal amount of lab work. Basically, what I meant was that it was supposed to be a college prep class, but it was just as easy to breeze thru as every other high school class I took. It didn't prepare me for anything.

Generally, I would say that making kids spend more time in school learning things that, for the most part, they will never use again, doesn't solve anything. Having college students spend 30-50 hours per week, studying and doing homework, a large part of which is spent on general ed classes that are basically repeats and small extensions of what they did in high school, serves no useful purpose either. This just forces college students to spend even more time (and money) studying things that probably won't really help them later in life.

I think what we need is a high school cirriculum that has more emphasis on subjects which will be useful after graduation, and spends less time on filler type of stuff. Also, I feel that college should have more emphasis on majors, rather than making students take 90 units of general ed, but only 30 in their major, in order to graduate.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 7:09 PM

Most of the information taught in any school at any point (save for at the highest level) isn't going to be useful in and of itself in everyday life. The real thing being taught (hopefully) is the thinking process.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 7:18 PM

You beat me to this response, Andy. That was exactly what I was going to say.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 11:26 PM

Also, I feel that college should have more emphasis on majors...in order to graduate.

We are considering doing exactly the opposite, and making our degree programs more flexible. Though, to be fair, Michigan's engineering degree programs generally require more than 1/4 of the credits in the major---it's closer to 1/3 in the major, plus another 1/3 on math, science, and engineering generally, with the remaining 1/3 split more or less evenly between humanities/social sciences and free electives.

As the pace of technology accelerates, it's increasingly important that our students adapt---in some sense, we're not preparing them for their first jobs, we're preparing them for their last ones. You can pretty much gaurantee that the "practical" stuff I'm teaching my students in CS courses is obsolete soon after they graduate. What's important is the fundamental underpinning we give them, so that as the practical details change, they can keep up.

Friday, April 3, 2009 2:03 AM

^^^ I would also hope that the thinking process is being taught. But in my personal experience up until high school it was not. Because school was so easy, I had no study skills at all, when I entered college. My freshman year in college, I had to teach myself study habits while doing the greatly increased amount of homework, which I had never seen before, at the same time and hope for the best. I would still say that more life skills, such at money management, should be taught in high school, but in the current school and college systems we have, it is no wonder to me that there are so many stories out there about first year college students that don't have the study skills and basic knowledge which they should have received by that time.

Brian, the first half of your post is pretty much what I had in mind. Approx, 2/3 in your major and 1/3 general ed. Instead of 3/4 general ed and 1/4 major like I did.

Friday, April 3, 2009 2:12 AM

I also had a similar experience with being able to breeze through high school with very little work and then getting slammed when I got to college. I found most high school classes, at least through junior year, pretty much taught to the specifications of the OGT and other standardized tests that are designed so that, unless you have a learning disability or something, you'd have to be a complete moron to fail. Considering that myself and a majority of my graduating class took and passed the OGT our Freshman year, it's even more ridiculous that they continue to teach to the test for the rest of high school when they could be doing much more useful things with all that time. In my opinion, standardized tests are the worst thing to ever happen to the US education system. Get rid of the tests and kids may actually learn something.

Friday, April 3, 2009 7:24 AM

Maybe the should bring back apprenticeships. Give kids more hands-on training.

Not every kid learns by sitting in a lecture all day (I should know, I'm one of them). It seems as the value of "getting your hands dirty," so to speak, is being played as "when you fail can't cut it in the "real world." (ie: an office job)

If you really want to learin how water flows or plants grow, spend some time with a landscaper. If you are curious about how things work, tear apart an engine or two under the guidance of somebody who has a clue.

PLEASE!!!! I work for a butcher shop in the back cooler marinating meats all day. It's cold, hard work, and I get covered in spices all day. My muscles may be sore from lifting cases and totes of beef & chicken all day (weighing between 40-70 lbs), but I sleep well and DON'T have to spend money on a gym.

Hard work can be just as enjoyable and less stressful than an office job any day.

Friday, April 3, 2009 9:33 AM

ApolloAndy said:
Most of the information taught in any school at any point (save for at the highest level) isn't going to be useful in and of itself in everyday life. The real thing being taught (hopefully) is the thinking process.

Bingo. Too much of the time is spent on worthless crap based on the currently in-fad agenda of the moment. Schools need to focus more time on the 3 R's. Beyond math (my HS had a pretty good math teacher) I learned little else K-12. I suppose I picked up some reading/writing along the way--I read alot.

Turns out that's all I needed to do well in college. Other than the 3 R's, everything else is taught starting from the beginning. (No, I don't have a podunk degree from a podunk school--degree in electrical engineering from a Big 10(eleven) school.)

Too little time in school is not the issue. What is being done with the current time IS the issue.

Is there any union-dominated business/system/etc left in this country that is doing well? (That should get me flamed!)

(I still say even if you do fix the "system" the parents of the failing kids are the biggest obstacle to success. Still, you should fix the system.)

Friday, April 3, 2009 9:42 AM

I would still say that more life skills, such at money management, should be taught in high school

I completely agree with this. I took a course called "Engineering Economics" in college---taxes, amortization, depreciation, capital vs. operational expenses, basic accounting, etc. I've never much used it in my job, but it made it a lot easier to understand what the hell I was doing when I bought my first house, started investing in my IRA/403B, etc.

Maybe the should bring back apprenticeships. Give kids more hands-on training.

This is another thing we are considering doing more of at Michigan. As one of our alumni put it: "When I graduated, I could design a pump for nearly any application you'd care to name. But, if you handed me one, I'd've had a hard time figuring out which way the water flowed."

Is there any union-dominated business/system/etc left in this country that is doing well? (That should get me flamed!)

At some level, Medicine is "unionized". You need an MD (your "union card") to practice, and Board certification to get paid by most insurers. Admission to medical school is centrally controlled, and is an apprenticeship model. Board certification is also internally-controlled. It works very similarly to the way guilds/unions used to.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Friday, April 3, 2009 9:44 AM
Friday, April 3, 2009 10:09 AM

So are you saying the business of medicine (healthcare) in this country is functioning well?

Not that I agree medicine is unionized--state controlled, yes.

Btw, the answer I was looking for is NFL!

Edit to add: Seems the successful unions have at least 2 things going for them:

1. Members are paid according to their talent, not everyone paid the same.

2. Underperforming members are easily fired (cut from the team, whatever).

Last edited by Lankster, Friday, April 3, 2009 10:22 AM

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