Kids and summers

I just heard a story on Fox News about Pres. Obama’s proposal to lengthen the school year for children.

It seems to me that were they to use the days better, they wouldn’t need more days.

Have you ever seen those e-mails or sites with student exams of yesterday?  Somehow those kids managed to learn. 

Perhaps a return to the Lost Tools of Learning would help.

I am reminded of what the ancient Roman educator Quintillian said.  If, during the summer, a child is healthy he has learned enough.

As a matter of fact, not having the time structured for them helped kids learn how to structure their time and interact.

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89 Responses to Kids and summers

  1. Anne Gomes says:

    Thank you, Fr Z. I’m a grandmother now, but have always thought that kids need unstructured time to play & learn how to be human beings as well as structured time to learn skills, sports, etc.Cutting short summer, longer school days and earlier education put pressure where kids least need it. Those things are especially bad for boys. Thanks again. AnneG in NC

  2. Maeana says:

    I’m not sure what Pres. Obama’s exact proposal is, but full year school makes sense. It doesn’t mean spending more days in school. It just makes the days you spend more efficient. In a typical school year, the first month or two is spent reviewing all the info the students lost over the summer, and the last month is spent in assesment (and field trips, etc.). Once a student gets to summer school, they are so far behind, it’s hard to catch up. If the school year were instead 10 weeks on, two weeks off, students would retain what they had learned, and the students having trouble could do remediation before they got too far behind. It also gives time for enrichment activities, mini camps, etc, if desired. The summer vacation was set up with farm kids in mind. Their families needed them home to help. It is no longer relevant. As much as I hate to say it, I do agree with Pres. Obama on this, as long as its done right. My husband and I are both teachers (although I am now a homeschooling mom and do my own year round school).

  3. I am not Spartacus says:

    The Obama-Ayers Camp (The Axis of Collectivism)understands the command educational economy and they want our children to be fully employed in the task of surrendering their souls (will, intellect, memory) to the State.

    I suspect they fear that their charges (our children) could regress back into Christian liberty if they are allowed to spend too much time with their parents.

    Barack ain’t complicated. He, and his buddy Bill Ayers, are flat-out collectivists.

  4. Megan says:

    This idea is the stuff of nightmares for me, and I must disagree with Maeana here. It may be a different matter altogether with homeschooling, but the public schools can be places of horror for some children (as it was for me). If I hadn’t had my long summer breaks away from school, I don’t know if I ever would have graduated. It was my “sane” time. I couldn’t wait to get home where I could relax. –Not because of the learning, but because of the other kids. It was exhausting. Now that I’m a teacher, it’s still exhausting, but in a different way. There are some teachers who really need that break. This job is incredibly mentally draining, and a couple of weeks scattered here and there throughout the year just does not give enough time to recharge. There is no way I could go all year without a prolonged break. It surprises me that anyone in education would like this proposal.

  5. Edward says:

    The federal government should have absolutely no role in education. This is a prime example of exactly what has gone wrong with this country.

  6. JSK says:

    Fr. Z.,

    This topic has way to many points to discuss in a comments section but a few things:

    1. This is a further attack/afront to traditional families. Maybe it isn’t intended or direct, but it allows the “two working parent” homes to more easily function by cutting down the days they have to “worry” about what to do with the children in the summer.

    2. It’s like anything else the government does; if it’s broke you either throw time or money at it and called it fixed and better. As we know, this usually just makes the situation worse.

    3. Look at home-schools, Montessori, and private schools. They spend actually LESS Time than public schools on actual instructional time, and more on discovery learning, free time, play time, and other learning methods. Kids need free time and absorbtion time. Especially the kids the public schools are quick to count as add, adhd, learning impaired etc… Has anyone ever tried to get a kid to sit through Mass? Well try doing that 6-7 times a day… what do you think the result will be?

    4. Moral questions and development have slowly been ceeded to the schools, more time will simply hand more of those duties to them, even unintentionally.

    5. What will this mean for private schools? They currently out-perform public schools most of the time. Will they need to follow this model? How will this affect their funding/operational costs if so? Can they survive; in this economy if you add another 10-20% tuition to families can they hack it? (That could be as much as another $500-1000 per family per year.)

    Overall I dont see how this is a good thing, and these are just some of the first basic issues. Speaking as a young person who went through small private schools with shorter years, less “Classroom time”, and the like, I just don’t see how this is good.

  7. Pink Floyd says:

    “Hey! Ombama! Leave those kids alone!

  8. Does this really help anyone? Just spending more time in school won’t impart to kids wisdom. Knowledge is importance, but facts without pracitical application is useless. All it does is take them away from mom and dad for some kids. There may be less felxibility with family to get away for the summer.

    Moreover, this will raise school taxes and put more of a burden on home owners, especially the elderly.
    This seems ike a seed to further destroy families.
    But, what I imagine is behind this is to create state sponsored day care so that mothers can work outside the home, even those who do not need to.

  9. Deacon David says:

    As someone who works with college students (both in a professional and a ministerial capacity), I am constantly reminded of just how poorly our public schools are doing at preparing their students for life and for higher education. For the overwhelming majority, the first couple of semesters (if not their entire stay in college) are spent trying to unlearn the study habits that they had instilled in them by the schools. I can’t think that having students spend *more* time in schools is going to solve this problem.

    I spent part of the formative years of my life in a society that has year-round schools (Japan), though I fortunately did not have to attend them (one of the advantages of being a military dependent – the military schools follow the calendar favored in the US, rather than the one favored by country the school happens to be in). It can work, but I found that my friends who attended schools all year were a lot less creative, innovative and curious. They also were under a lot more pressure. There was a large problem with students committing suicide, as they did not have enough time to just be children. Unstructured time is important.

  10. Andy K. says:

    I remember the days when the President talking about federal oversight of the educational system was a horrible thing.

  11. Felicitas says:

    I think the federal government needs to allow local school systems decide what is best for them.

  12. mom says:

    Kids need time to be kids. The federal government should leave education policy to local districts. As for my family, we are very grateful for homeschooling.

  13. Latekate says:

    Father Z.,
    government school is not about learning at all. It is about behavioral training. The kids have to be taken from their families for ever increasing amounts of time to eradicate any private learning, religion or traditions passed on from parents. The “herd” collectivist mentality is instilled through “children socializing children”, peer pressure that ingrains conformity and learning to stay in ones place or suffer consequences. The “lessons” mean less than the form or structure itself: sitting in rows, standing in lines, raising ones hand for the most basic of human needs (toileting), writing ones name just so on the test paper or suffer a failing grade (follow directions, you cog!!!) turns unique creations of God into higher order, more evolved animals, subservient to the more valuable “alpha” “leader” animals. As the “student” spends more time in government indoctrination centers they begin to switch their allegiances to the schools and peer group and view parents as irrelevant and “out of it”. Parental values are often ridiculed and criticized by teachers.
    John Dewey, widely revered as the father of modern government education actually said that “we” need a class of dumbed down people to do the labor for companies that educated people would be dissatisfied with. He actually wanted to keep people from becoming literate, and his strategies have worked very well in all the 3 “R”s.
    I once had an in depth discussion with a teacher who admitted that if parents were dumb enough to send their kids to him for education he felt justified in instilling his own values and politics in them. This is THE biggest reason Catholicism has suffered such a massive decline. People have been converted to paganism as children FROM it and even private Catholic schools have become more like government schools. Parents are generally clueless because they think education is still education,they do not understand the language has been corrupted and “education” now means behavioral training and political indoctrination.

    See John Taylor Gattos “Underground History of American Education” and Samuel Blumenfelds “The NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education”.

  14. opey124 says:

    How in the heck are they going to be able to afford schooling during the summer months in places that have extreme heat in the summer? Right now, in our state, they can barely get the budget balanced for the school year, let alone add additional days to the hottest months which equals high electric bills.
    Something does need to be done with the school system, but I am not sure adding days is going to help.

  15. Christina says:

    Not only do kids need a time off, but teachers do, too. I’m a homeschooler, and if I, the teacher of 6 kids, need a long break with NOTHING on the back burner waiting to be corrected, etc, than how much more do teachers with large numbers of children to teach need a break.

    Kids need a long period to relax and do what they want to do. A two week break every 10 weeks wouldn’t do it, as there’d surely be some assignment to complete over the break. Not to mention the fact that every school would have to have super air conditioning systems, or else the kids would just crash when hot weather set in!

  16. Tim Ferguson says:

    If they’re not in school during the summertime, how can they possibly be expected to ingest the prevailing ideals of contemporary culture? How ever will they learn that tolerance is the supreme virtue, and that anyone opposed to the liberal agenda is evil, fascist and downright mean? How would they come to understand that universal health care is a constitutional right, despite the fact that it’s not in the Constitution?

    I mean, if they’re not in school during the summer, they might just do things like go to vacation bible schools or church camps, where they’d imbibe some non-government sponsored ideas. They might go for a walk in the park with their parents or grandparents and learn about family values and traditions. They might even read books that are not on the approved list!

    Heaven forfend! We’ve got to keep these kids in schools as much as possible to insure that they become strong supporters of the DEA.

  17. Latekate says:

    I homeschooled, or rather my kids have, on approx. $200.00 a year each and then I sell the materials on ebay and use that $ to buy for the next year. My eldest just finished her first year at a fairly selective private college and made deans list both semesters. It breaks my heart when I hear my co-workers complain about their kids being home for the summer and how they can’t wait for Fall for them to go back to school. There is something very WRONG in feeling that way, the parental bond is damaged. I started homeschooling (I moved to a rural area where they were very upfront about dumbing the kids down) when they were in 3rd and 6th grade and will forever regret ever sending them to the Marxist kidjails. Our family bond became much stronger. But I monitor destructive influences, TV, and such.

  18. Sid Cundiff says:

    With regret I must disagree, gently, with Fr. Z.

    Maeana has got it completely correct. Year-round school is the way to go, is what they do in many European countries, and reflects better the way people really are, children included. Take it from this old school teacher: Kids have forgotten much come September, and quit working in April.

    And the year-round calendar — either as Maeana has described it or as 9 weeks on and 3 weeks off — is also more pro-family: folks can take their vacations off-season in the winter, spring, and autumn — all lovely seasons and much cheaper.

    In his own way I am not Spartacus, whom I first met in a Greek cyber bar, is also correct. Our statist/socialist schools don’t work, can’t work, never were much to boast about, and have gotten worse over time. Like “public” housing and “public” transport, and “public” medicine — “public” schools are simply shoddy and criminal. And our private schools, including Parochial Schools, instead of offering a better product, are by and large clones of the statist schools without the Lumpenproletariat and drugs sold in the lavatory.

    Sid’s simple solution: year-round school and give a voucher to the parent, and the parent will decide where the child is educated. We’ll still have many bad schools, but we’ll have some good ones also.

    To go beyond Maeana and Non-Sparticus: The real problem in American education is never faced up to, and it’s cultural. That problem is that Americans don’t think education is particularly important. Ask a Gringo to list his life goals, and “being well-educated” ain’t near the top. American girls don’t think the educated man is sexy, and American boys don’t think the educated woman is cute. Gringos, by and large, think playing some really swell basketball is vastly more important than any kind of Bildung (or, say, knowing what “ineffable” means). So don’t think sports will be cut from school budgets any time soon. Or mandating Latin in the curriculum.

    Not so our Jewish and Asian minorities. Ever wonder why your professor, your pharmacist, and your physician come from these groups? It’s because their religions are sapiential, they don’t think stupid is cool, and they sat on their rears and memorized Mendeleev’s Periodic Table and read Dante. And they so memorized and read also during the summer while other ethnics were busy rubbing on suntan oil. And Jews and Asians are the very ethnics who are bailing of of Publik Skwells and setting up their own, as German and Japanese businessmen have always done when working in Gringoland.

    The result: Americans are the worst educated folk in the industrial world. Oh, they might know their own trade, but that’s all they know. Gringos are always bested in cultural knowledge, scientific matters, in tastes (such as liking Gregorian Chant), and increasingly even in business — by Germans, Frenchmen, Italians, Chinese, Indians, etc. And in a high-tech economy and in a global market, American ignorance and insularity will cost Gringos dearly.

    Homework assignment: Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life remains the best study of the question. And it’s one of his books largely free of this otherwise Marxist viewpoint.

  19. therecusant says:

    Father Z,

    Are you sure the number of days increased? My understanding is that the number of days in school remains virtually unchanged, but rearranged with more breaks of a shorter duration. That may or may not be a good idea, but doesn’t seem as nefarious as implied – or maybe I’m missing something.

  20. dcs says:

    It’s deja vu all over again:
    http://www.highereducation.org/crosstalk/ct0500/voices0500-goldberg.shtml

    At the time [1984], [President] Reagan released another report from the Department of Education, “The Nation Responds,” documenting a “tidal wave of reform” in the schools. Among the elements of this reform movement which continue to this day are:

    * raising of high school graduation requirements;
    * the standards movement–creating assessments aligned with standards;
    * consideration of longer school days and a longer school year, and efforts to make better use of time in school [my emphasis -dcs];
    * improving teacher certification procedures, performance incentives and teacher status;
    * providing report cards to the public about education progress, school by school; and
    * increased public interest in quality education, as represented by PTA membership and corporate involvement with schools.

  21. Lindsay says:

    I don’t think that Obama is necessarily proposing “year round school.” I haven’t seen the recent stories, but his proposals during the campaign involved either lengthening the school day OR adding more days to the school year. This is more days or time in school regardless of how you time it.

  22. Blue Shoe says:

    I’m living in Japan at the moment and working as an English teacher, and I think their system (time-wise) is pretty efficient. They get about a month off in the spring and another month in the summer, as well as periodic national holidays throughout the year. It seems to work better than having 2+ months of summer vacation.

  23. Dr. Eric says:

    Didn’t the school year start the day after Labor Day and end the Friday before Memorial Day in the good ol’ days? I would be in favor of that. That would leave the year pretty much the same as it is but it would keep the kids out of the school in August when it is so blisteringly hot (at least in the St. Louis, Mo area.)

    Also, summer vacation worked when mom stayed at home. Now that everybody works, it would be a better idea to have the kids go all year. That way they could incorporate gym and music classes again. There would be enough time to fit all the classes in. Also, there would have to be some sort of smooth transition to the next grade.

  24. M.F. Bingham says:

    The air conditioning is not a minor concern. Many Northern urban schools do not have any A/C. Central air can’t be installed because of a lack of ductwork, and window units just can’t cool a large room with 25-35 kids when it’s 90+ and high humidity outside.

    I’ll admit, I’m torn on the issue of year-round school. In theory (and probably in practice for a few individual schools), when properly done, year-round schooling prevents regression from previous year’s learning, and still have long enough breaks that allow for creative and free time. The problem is, government-run anything never works as well as theory.

    I worked for an inner-city non-profit that held a seven week summer program. Yes, we worked on academics for half a day. However, the second half was spent playing sports (at the boys’ center) or arts/music/sports (at the girls’ center). Homework was almost never assigned, so again, the kids still had plenty of free time in the afternoons and evenings, not to mention the couple of weeks before and after the program began. If an optional short summer session, in air-conditioned rooms, had the same type of curriculum (strengthen basics that should have been mastered in previous academic year; opportunity to explore science/arts/literature for fun and not geared to a standardized test; time to just play), I could support the concept.

    People may hate the idea of government intervention in the schools- look at some of the local school boards around the country (and almost any in California) to see how nutty and bad they can be. But really, what’s the alternative? Homeschooling and/or solid Catholic schools may be an ideal, but neither option is available to many inner city residents. What should thousands of inner-city kids who live in drug and gang-ridden neighborhoods do, if public school is not available?

  25. Liz F. says:

    We’ve been doing a bit of summer-school (we homeschool) as I feel a couple of my kids need extra help and/or are at a crucial point in their learning. However, the other day I needed to get some spinach cleaned and frozen. My husband plants a good-sized garden so this took me a good 2 hours. Anyway, as I cleaned the spinach I had a nice view of my three youngest children(6,5,& 3). They played under a tree with a plastic chair, a few sticks, some old sidewalk chalk, two sour cream containers and some dirt. It was marvelous to watch them play so happily. That did it! I decided no more formal school until fall. This time in their lives is critical for them to play. Play is serious business for kids. I see these poor day-care kids routed from organized activity to organized activity and it seems so sad. They never get to play. I think year round school is just another tool of Obama’s socialist agenda.

  26. bear-i-tone says:

    The most intelligent book I ever read on the subject of Education was Roger Ascham’s The Scholemaster, written around 1563. Ascham was, among other things, the Latin tutor of Elizabeth 1. In The Scholemaster Ascham cuts across many of the issues of the day- flogging or no flogging, what should go first, what was the best way to teach and so on, and stated first and foremost, the most important thing was to find a teacher who loved the subject and could communicate that love to the students. If you accomplish that, the student will begin to teach themselves and look forward to their lessons.

    I think the problem with the school system isn’t any systemic flaw, or whether the year is too short, or too long, or too hard, or too easy; rather it is the fact that it is a system to begin with. Putting a large group of diverse students and subject them all to the same stimulus, same program, same everything, and expecting them all to turn out the same- that is, educated- is foolish. But government bean counters cannot grasp the idea of finding the best people, and letting them go to work as they see fit, to suit the needs of their class.

  27. West of the Potomac says:

    Education brought to you by a division of GM, or the DMV, or the Medicaid system. Run away, run away!

    My kids are blessed to attend a small, private Catholic school. Nothing fancy, but wow do all of the kids there learn — a lot.

    Somehow they are able to learn so much even though there is an hour for Mass every morning, 30 minutes for Rosary every afternoon and 2 hours for lunch/recesses in the middle.

    The school demands much from the kids. Latin beginning in Kindergarten, public speaking beginning in 1st, heavy on reading, theology, philosophy, etc. All of the middle and high school students must participate in the schola and choir, on the debate team and in the annual play.

    It’s daunting, but the kids (surprise!) rise to the challenge. Their minds are worked and worked, but there is plenty of time for faith, family and fun.

    Oh, and they start school the 2nd week of September and end the day after Memorial Day.(Owed to the fact that there aren’t 2 weeks of “teacher workshop” days sprinkled throughout the year.)

    Longer school years? No thanks. My kids wouldn’t have time to build a catapult or a tennis ball bazooka or a do whatever it is they do when they go off to just be kids for a few minutes every summer.

  28. Peggy says:

    I am opposed to federal intervention in public school policy. I am opposed to over-scheduling/structuring children. It is especially harmful for boys. Kids need to be kids and do their own thing together and create their own “rules” and “games.” Boys, in particular, need to use their energy. Yes, schools used to be much more productive at dispensing knowledge and skills with good results; today, feelings and socialization seem more important. Yet, at the same time, I see the schools pressuring little ones to achieve unreasonable academic goals, which clearly doesn’t yield good results down the road when we see middle/high school test scores.

    The year-round and longer school day ideas do cater to working parents who aren’t home with their kids during the summer and holiday breaks. Our parish school went with the public school to adopt all day K. It’s hard on the little kids. They do academics only 1/2 day and do “centers” play in the pm. Most kids in our n-hood are in summer camps nearly every week. We go swim at the Y sometimes just to swim with them. Some kids we rarely see during the school year since they’re at daycare until dinner time, and it’s dark.

    During the summer, the kids need parental supervision to prevent/limit teen-age misbehavior as well as, for all ages, ensuring they’re not in front of the tv all day eating junk and siblings fighting among themselves. While a week at camp might be a fun diversion, it should not be a way to spend the summer. I do think there COULD be some merit to a year-round school with roughly a month off quarterly, rather than 3 long summer months. But then teachers already whine about salaries and they only work 3/4 the year. Other professionals work 12 (11 if vacation considered) months and work long days too. Let local schools decide.

  29. irishgirl says:

    School all year round? Is Obama nuts?

    Why can’t the government leave parents alone and let them decide on how to raise their children?

    Thank God I never married and had kids…and thank God I’m not of school age!

  30. Patrick says:

    After reading your comments, I was greatly surprised to not see the main
    cause of our failure: it’s nearly impossible to fail. Social promotion means
    that students must stay with their peer group to avoid shame at these levels.
    When students intuitively understand that failure is not possible, what is
    their motivation? If a student is in “danger” of failing to graduate from
    high school, every teacher must justify every single grade, every whimsical
    excuse must be countered, teachers must give more chances, extra credit, re-takes,
    etc. in the last weeks before graduation. Most teachers give up and pass the
    kids.

  31. Latekate says:

    Vouchers will cause the demise of the few decent private schools that do exist as they all jump through the government hoops to get the money. Look at the university system, look what the millions in government money have done for Notre Dame. Sorry guys, it is time to step out of the boat and live as God intended, not robbing some to pay for utopian promises to others.

    Reform is simply playing the game they love. They dumb down kids, people complain and they promise-ta da!-Reform! Reform is simply more untried social programs, new-new-new math, groupthink, etc. using the kids as guinea pigs. And when the “reforms” don’t work, why, let’s have MORE reform, REAL reform! The indoctrination system is not broken, it is working EXACTLY as designed if you read the history of the system and the words of its founders and designers. Those of you who decry the anti-intellectualism look at the government schools. Why you would expect the system that has caused the problems to improve itself is unfathomable. Kids are taught to “feel”, not think. Endless exercises in cognitive dissonance teaches kids to NOT care, to do as they are told no matter if it makes sense or is logical.

    We are getting the society we deserve, turning over our children to godless Marxist strangers to “educate” and wondering why they are godless, uneducated, immature and fall for every inane fad that comes along. Parents would never entrust their checkbooks to these people.

    Shame on those of you who view this as a good thing because you think others should foot the bill for your childcare while “mom works”.

    Inner city kids would be better off on their own than cooped up in the kidjails for 12 years of their lives. Churches can provide programs for them, use the opportunity to mission. My kids never heard of drugs until first grade where it was all explained in DARE and they came home and got alarmed because Mommy was drinking a glass of wine after dinner. Of course, the MATH work came home for me to teach.

    People LOVE the idea of “school”, especially government (other peoples money) school. It’s free babysitting, they don’t have to worry about their childrens education, after all, their betters told them it’s education, right?? They don’t have to think, they don’t have to take responsibility, they parrot the same myths and school propaganda the schools feed them. It is depressing. Truth DOES exist, even about the govschools. You can pretend that it is all a matter of opinion and preference but it is not. The govschools are based on theft, aggression, force, and the crime against humanity of using childrens own minds to forge their own chains and limit their God given potential.

  32. Joe says:

    It seems to me that were they to use the days better, they wouldn’t need more days.
    — kind of insenitive to what actually goes on in the average classroom.

  33. Marcin says:

    See John Taylor Gattos “Underground History of American Education” and Samuel Blumenfelds “The NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education”.

    Neither book can be found in my Public Library system. No surprise here

  34. laurazim says:

    Joe–you’re so right! Our compulsory attendance law says that children must be in attendance for 875 hours per school year. As homeschoolers, we can count almost anything we do together as a family as part of our children’s education, not just the time they have their books open at the table. Building our addition–wood working, carpentry, math, engineering, critical safety skills. Baking–math, home economics, nutrition, science, chemistry, orginization skills. The days in which we pull out the books, our book work is generally completed by just after lunch time. That includes each child completing reading, religion, catachism, Latin, English, science, math, art, history, geography, spelling, and vocabulary. We switch off days, just like in “building school” so that we do a little more than half of our subjects each day. What’s missing? Lining up. Waiting for the room to quiet down. Traveling from one classroom to another. Waiting until 23 children grasp a math concept. School-wide assemblies. Workshops on bullying and tolerance. Guidance counselor visits to discuss current “issues”. Having volunteered one full day each week in my children’s public school classrooms for three years before we finally made the decision to pull them and educate them ourselves, I have seen first hand just how many of those 875 hours are absolute wastes of
    time. Wow, Father, we probably need more room to discuss this!!!

  35. jennifer eva says:

    Yes, There are a lot of families who have to work dual incomes. But in our small CA neighborhood, many moms at home help take in a few kids and some income in the summer. It has been a blessing to see how this area of CA manages the diversity. Packets also get sent home for families to keep up the work at home. Didn’t we already know that without a strong influence at home there is harder work of learning at school? And especially for Catholic families who have their kids at school, you have to always be on prayerful watch. It is the work of the family to educate. School is to support this.

    Bottom line

    Let each community figure out the best plan for their particular circumstance. Society will lose or has lost a part of humanity that allows for natural building of relationships. Catholics had better know why they are Catholic Christians if we are to be a cultural influence in our own little area we are placed in.

    I can see how homeschooling will grow if longer days are implemented. So will certain social teachings become more prominent.

    personally, I look forward to beginning homeschooling if this is what the Lord wills.

    Today’s worries are enough.

    JennE

  36. Therese says:

    I’m afraid when it comes to Mr. Obama, he gets what he wants. (Many working parents will be greatly tempted to go along.) This is tyranny and must be stopped.

  37. Jennifer says:

    I saw this post and felt compelled to read through all the comments and to respond. I just finished my certification process and my education classes, and will be a first year teacher this next fall, and at a public school, as a Catholic. That being said, knowing my own lack of personal experience, I’ll chime in my two cents.

    First, since we’re not sure what exactly the proposal is, people shouldn’t be over-reacting yet. Become informed on EXACTLY what is going on, and then fight against it. Also, shouldn’t one look at the argument from the other point of view as well? If you can see the positives of the other side, then you can set up the argument from your point of view all the stronger, with many more counter points.

    Now, that being said, let me propose some things to consider.

    To the person who commented on teacher salaries: Teachers average salary across the board rests between $40,000 to $50,000 a year in the public school system. In many states it is lower, and in others (like California) it is higher. But, in defense of those teacher who say what they get paid is too low, let me let you consider this: Not only do teachers teach in the classroom for 8 hours a day, teachers also spend countless hours grade papers, spend time with students after school who need to make up work or take tests because of absences, and (if they are teachers who truly care about educating the student) spend time creating or, in the seasoned teachers repertoire, adjusting lesson plans and activities and assessments for their students. Now, on the flip side, sometimes there are those teachers that do, unduly, influence students on their own personal views, be the views atheist, not morally sound, etcetera. But there are those of us (myself included) who are fighting against this sort, and who instill expectations in students, such as basic morals of respect and love for another (which can be extremely difficult at some schools, where there ARE gangs or inner city violence.)

    To those who argue that longer school days are completely unnecessary, let me throw in this consideration: teachers have a large amount of expectations placed upon them. In Texas, it’s making sure you cover the TEKS, and often teachers downgrade themselves to teaching to the TAKS test (this will be changing within two years, as we are switching to an end of year exam, but the TEKS, as I understand it, will still form the basis for this end of year exam). Teachers have to get x, y, and z imparted upon students. But they also have to contend with pep rallies (which, while fun, take away precious class time). Yes, teachers can, and should, across the board be more efficient. During my student teaching process it was my constant battle, to be both efficient, effective, and to respond to all my students needs. Teachers also have to contend with fire drills every month, which interrupt the class and take time to garner students back into the classroom and back to the task that they were doing ahead of time. Teachers deal with announcements, state or local required interruptions, and limited time to do it with. Having an elongated school year, even if by two weeks, one at the beginning, the other at the end, could be a good thing. But where? There are circumstances across the country where that is impossible, because of a lack of AC, or where teachers aren’t willing to teach any more than they have to. This IS a problem that the education community does face today, both at local levels, state levels, and across the board.

    For those who see the public school system as imposing rules, or becoming the machine to create a more socialist society I counter with my own experience. I was in private school from pre-K through 8th grade, and attended public high school. In my Catholic private school that my family moved me to in 4th grade, where students created their own rules and social settings, I was the outcast, as set up by these rules, where teachers didn’t intervene. I was bullied, hurt, and made fun of, because I was the new comer. Now, by the time 8th grade came around, I had found my own group, and was incredibly upset that I was switching to public school, and quite frankly, a bit fearful at the time. But that first day of public school was a revelation in itself: I was welcomed with open arms, students were nice, and I never experienced fear from my own classmates at this time. Now, is this a one time example? Yes, and it’s personal, and doesn’t apply to everyone. But it is something to consider. The reason there are so many educational theories and the option for charter schools, Montessori schools, public schools, magnate schools, home schooled students, and private schools is because there are differences in how schooling should come about.

    There needs to be more emphasis, in my personal opinion, on differentiated instruction, where teachers give students options/choice in their work, freedom and creativity in what they do. There is good in traditional paper and pencil tests, but it can be over done. There is good in alternative assessments, where students get free range on how to do what they want, but this also can be over done. It is about striking a balance.

    All of this being said, I think what concerns people the most even if they don’t realize it, is the breakdown of the family, of the formation of values and morals and the emphasis of the role of the parent. I as the teacher, just student teaching, had to give a mini-lesson, as you will, on why respect, on why listening to each other, and to their teacher (which in that instance was me) was so vital beyond the school walls that students were housed in. This was to high schooled students, and not freshmen, but juniors. Many of them said, “But Miss, our parents don’t care and are practically never there.” Now while I understood that most of my students were from minority homes, many of their parents illegals and who had to work constantly, I also emphasized to them that regardless, when their parents spoke, they should listen, because when they get out into the workforce, they would also have to listen to bosses, and would not be able to talk back. Many of my students, though they understood that Hitler killed a lot of people, didn’t understand the gross enormity of it all until I physically had them stand up, and called out, “If you’re Jewish, sit down. If you’re colored, sit down. If you’re Catholic, sit down. If you’re Romanian, sit down.” It wasn’t until all but one girl had sat down did my students understand (because they participated in it) that because one man in power so fervently hated all those who were not Aryan that my students understood that just because they were different from each other they needed to respect one another. These were juniors in HIGH school, learning morals and respect from history. Many of them thanked me at the end of the year for being there as not just a teacher.

    Was it easy? No. Did I love my students? Yes, and I was willing and ready to do it for them, and for my future students. But many of the lessons I imparted were things my parents taught me long before high school. The break down of the family is a huge problem, especially in our society that is motivated by fame and wealth and working. While it is important for kids to be kids, it is also important that they have structure. Increasingly, that is falling to teachers because the family is being attacked. That is the root of the problem.

    Yes, the government has intervened into education when it shouldn’t have. Yes, the government has been increasing its power in a huge way, and often in ways that are not good (though sometimes there have been good reaches of governmental power, but I am not here to debate that today). Is there something inherently wrong with increasing the school year? I don’t personally think so. Is there something inherently wrong in the continuing break down of the family, absolutely yes. Teachers fall in the middle of this problem.

    I’ll be checking this topic throughout the day, and am completely willing to respond as the day goes by. Thanks Father Z for posting this!

  38. Jason says:

    The real problem in American education is never faced up to, and it’s cultural. That problem is that Americans don’t think education is particularly important. Ask a Gringo to list his life goals, and “being well-educated” ain’t near the top.

    I disagree. In fact, I think the problem is just the opposite: Americans think education is too important, and we equate schooling with education/learning. Our society determines competency by how much schooling we have. People with less or no schooling cannot get ahead in society, even if they are competent; we require certification from an education system. People in the third world want to be like Americans: they think schooling is the key to “development.” We do not need schooling, we need learning. We need to abolish the mandatory education system. A person does not need 12 years of schooling to learn a skill that can make them qualified for a job. Even universities stifle “liberal arts” because the students are bound to curriculum, to class schedules, etc. The freedom and creativity of learning is destroyed by mandatory education systems. Teaching can be effective for some people and for some things, but going to a teacher and an education system should not be mandatory. There are other ways to learn. The thing I hate most about schooling is that it destroys a person’s experience with real life. I would have much preferred to spend my youth learning a trade, rather than going to the mandatory nursery that is the education system. Granted, I learned to read and write and do some math in school, but I didn’t need 12 years and mandatory classes for that! I could have learned that from tutors, and compared to what the government pays for the education system, it would cost hardly anything to give vouchers for children to go to tutors or skill-teachers. We think that more funding will solve the problems with the education system, but the problem is not funding, the problem is the theory of the education system itself.

  39. depeccatoradvitam says:

    This is not about time or making our kids more competitive or fun in the sun for the summertime.

    It has always been a long-standing leftist mentality to separate children from their parents. This de-parentalization is designed to influence the children to the social more outside the family. This is exactly what Mao did in China and Hitler in Germany and Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, etc. so too with gangs.

    The atheistic state cannot parent better than the family where the primary right of parents is the education of the children. Parents cannot abdicate this right and must find time to be a priomary educator of their children.

    Remember well that where the family goes, so goes the country. And since the family is the vital cell of society (John Paul II) we would be best to make sure that the family remains an intact and pervasive and influential part of our childrens’ time. For, in the family, faith can thrive.

  40. M.F. Bingham says:

    Latekate,

    Have you actually worked with or in a public school system, much less a public school system? What blogs or group-pages do you get your half-truths from? Public schools are far from perfect. They have many flaws, and individual schools and school systems should probably be disbanded and completely reorganized.

    However, to suggest that inner-city children would be better off with no schools whatsoever and simply on their own rather than “kidjails” (what a term) reflects an absolute ignorance and cruel disregard for their lives.

    1) First and foremost, most teachers don’t go into the profession looking to brainwash their students or promote a certain ideology. Most want to help students learn. That’s it. (Average) Veteran teachers, especially those in inner-city schools, are so worn down by years of dealing with unruly students and unsupportive parents/school administration that they don’t have the energy to plan and formulate an education revolution. They just want 15 minutes each hour of relative peace where they can possibly get in a small lesson plan to satisfy the standardized test of the month. Yet this 15 minutes/hour (maybe one good hour of instruction per day) is much more learning than these kids ever get at home in front of the TV or in the vacant lots that serve as playgrounds.

    2) Public school performance is atrocious, but that is in no small part to our coddling of our kids. We declare that of course we want teachers to grade fairly (except for that small, largely discredited self-esteem contingent), but then complain to the teacher and principal when Dear Johnny gets a D, which ruins his chance at Harvard in 4th grade! Of course, for many inner city schools, no parent cares enough to either complain about or enact meaningful punishments for poor performance. We don’t support teachers who actually demand achievement, much less discipline, from our children, so how the heck can teachers succeed when students know there are no negative repercussions?

    And when those of us (including myself) who have no plans to allow our kids to go to such school systems hear about such stories, what do we do? We just laugh and say, “That’s why I homeschool/send Jane to St. Mary the Orthodox.” Instead, we need to support those teachers and systems who do try to have standards. After all, Jane or Johnny will have to interact with those students one day and may even marry one of them.

    3) Yes, many inner-city moms view public school as cheap daycare while they work. Of course, they have to work because the father is nowhere in sight. “So,” you exclaim, “if people weren’t sleeping around and having illegitimate children, this problem will go away! Mothers could stay home with their children and give them the proper instruction and care needed.” 1 small problem with this: even if all extra-marital relations everywhere ceased tomorrow, you still have a generation of children without two parents. Those children have to be educated and cared for somehow.

    4) The functional illiteracy of inner-city public school graduates is appalling and its effects of their communities last for generations. Can you imagine what it was like when most inner city people were completely illiterate? Do you really want to go back there by disbanding public education? Really?

    I worked with an inner-city child who was overweight, watched way-too-much TV, and played lots of video games. His (single) mom cared a lot about his education, yet tolerated and even promoted these habits. Why? Because letting J. play outdoors was even more dangerous! You know what happened to him? He was shot and killed walking home from the corner store, where he had been allowed to walk to buy a new video game magazine, by a man who mistakenly thought J. was part of a group of boys who had thrown rocks at his van (police determined the mistaken identity, not that it matters).

    This is the kind of environment that inner city kids live in. This is what you argue kids would be better off in rather than public schools. So if you really believe this, you have no heart, no real compassion, for the children who don’t have a choice as to the environment they live in.

    There is no simple solution to the education problem, which yes, is rooted in so many areas (university Education departments, anyone?). But the fundamental failure is in the breakdown of the family. Until that is fixed, no real progress can or will be made.

  41. Jason says:

    The functional illiteracy of inner-city public school graduates is appalling and its effects of their communities last for generations. Can you imagine what it was like when most inner city people were completely illiterate? Do you really want to go back there by disbanding public education? Really?

    Illiteracy is easily solved. You don’t need 12 years of mandatory schooling to teach someone to read and write. What does math have to do with literacy? What does physical education have to do with literacy? What does art class have to do with literacy? My father is an immigrant, a native Spanish speaker, and he learned English when he came to the United States. He didn’t go to school. I only speak one language, and the thought of learning another language scares me. I’m not good with memory. Why do I, who have years of education, find learning another language hard, when my father, who has comparatively no education, speaks two languages?

    How many ordinary people read Shakespeare? Why should that be the goal of literacy? We don’t need to train everyone for a career in liberal arts. Most people just need skills to work relevant jobs. If they want to learn more, let them take that initiative, rather than forcing an education system on them.

  42. Jocelyn says:

    Read: Weapons of Mass Instruction ( a school teachers journey through the dark world of compulsory schooling ) By John Taylor Gatto

    Year round school is DEADLY to origional thought, religious convictions,& real social interaction.
    Recognise that compulsory schooling is a buisness- what is the purpose of buisness ? To make money .

    Jocelyn

  43. Paladin says:

    For those who are arguing in favour of year-round schooling:

    1) I don’t think any faithful Christian could, in good conscience, wish to extend their child’s tenure in our current public schools. Are teachers and parents truly unaware of the explicit and consciously-chosen social engineering (e.g. NEA-mandated “normalization” of homosexuality in K-12, perpetuating and encouraging the “normality” of artificial contraception, etc.) which takes place in USA public schools (and, more lamentably, in many institutional parochial schools)? If you want to increase child exposure to institutional schools, PURIFY THEM FIRST.

    2) I’m a schoolteacher of 14 years (10 in public schools, 4 in parochial), and I’m constantly horrified at the extent to which the dominant “child-shaping dynamic” in most institutional schools is the “peer pool”–the blind (and immature, selfish, TV-programmed, back-biting, etc.) leading the blind (etc.). Is an *increase* of child exposure to this truly best? I don’t think so… and, ultimately, I think moral formation is far more important than is any ability to memorize the Pythagorean Theorem (and I’m a math teacher)! When we stand before God at the end, which would you rather have: the math ability of Pascal and the heart of a rabid wolf, or the math ability of a 3-year old and a heart open to God?

    3) To homeschoolers (and God bless you all!): you’re dealing with a very different animal. You’re right in saying that “year round” has some resonance with “real life”; but that works only outside of the artificial “shark pools” that are our institutional schools. If you were talking about apprenticeships, guilds, etc. (which are much more in line with the homeschooling ethos), then a year-round set-up would be wonderful; but don’t project your wholesome atmosphere and individualized learning set-up on institutional schools which couldn’t even mimic it on the best day of their existences!

    4) Re: #3, and comments that “school time is inefficient due to breaks, because of the immense review”: I’d gently suggest that much of the wasted time comes from the institutional structure itself. The best teacher in the world can’t possibly do justice to 25 students at wildly different ability and motivation levels, no matter how much money and appreciation you throw at her. A homeschooling parent can tailor the lessons, the breaks, the vacations, the reviews, etc., to his/her individual children, whereas no teacher can do that with any degree of efficiency.

    Given the state of institutional schools in our country, a general mandate of year-round school would crucify already-overworked teachers, would exacerbate destructive social influences (including culture-of-death social engineering), and would further alienate students from their parents. I don’t think those are good outcomes–do you?

    (N.B. For those who appeal to schools in other countries, and especially the Oriental schools: you might want to check out the suicide rates among those students; it’s rather eye-opening.)

  44. Allison says:

    It’s more time away from your family and family values.

    Summer can be a time to explore other talents, imagine, reconnect and relax, attend The Holy Sacrifice of Mass more often, travel, visit relatives….

    When did this tradition cease to be part of our desired culture?

  45. jeannie says:

    I teach first grade in a catholic school. I have 35 kids in my classroom. Even with good classroom management skills there is way too much wasted time settling them down during the day.

    I hate the idea of the federal government meddling in education. Look what a mess came from No Child Left Behind. Our state, in order to make sure that kids learn more, has made standards that are developmentally inappropriate, so the teachers are forced to teach stuff that the child can’t learn instead of making sure that the material the child can learn is solid.

    My students do not speak English at home. Many of the parents hardly speak to them in any language at home, so they do not have a developed word sense. I am their only English language model, so in some ways more school days would be an advantage to them. These children mostly live in apartments in a dangerous neighborhood where parks are for drug deals, so they have nowhere to play. They stay inside and watch videos, and when they try to write creatively they have no imagination. They love to come to school because that’s where they meet their friends and get to play outside. It breaks my heart that when they go skipping down the hall I have to tell them to walk instead of just watching their joy.

    So for my population, what the kids need is more time to play, and they can get that at school. That’s why we have a free after-school daycare. And they also get small group tutoring if they need help with their homework. We are blessed with a community of volunteers that are committed to helping these kids learn.

    Let’s get real here–there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution to our nation’s educational needs. That’s the point of the charter schools–to provide alternatives within the public school system! For crying out loud, the state is bad enough, let’s keep the federal government out of our educational system.

  46. Maureen says:

    I got bullied constantly both in parochial school and in public school. But I don’t think homeschooling would have worked very well either, as my mother (a good
    teacher and tutor, and exceedingly gifted with the learning disabled) constantly clashed with me. If I could have just learned everything from books and tapes on my own, I would have been a lot happier and sustained a lot fewer scars on body and psyche. Also, wasted a lot less time and learned more languages. About the only good thing about school was that the collections of paperbacks and magazines that various teachers had available was more diverse than that available at the local library, and the librarians and teachers were almost always great people.

    Cutting out recess or summer vacation, for those unfortunate enough to be attending school, is the work of the devil. And I say this as someone who was often getting bullied at recess. It is bad to be accessible to bullies, but it’s better than being stuck inside all day at a desk, with or without them.

  47. M.F. Bingham says:

    Jason,

    I am an accountant. I use numbers all of the time, and love working with them. Yet without being able to write and convey what my spreadsheets mean, my work is almost useless. Functional literacy is necessary for almost all jobs, not just one in the liberal arts.

    Functional literacy means being able to understand the handouts given to you at your child\’s pediatric appointment. Functional literacy means being able to read and understand the impact of a potential law on the freedom you have to homeschool without an education degree (CA) or the Catholic Church\’s ability to protest an unconstitutional restriction on its governance without registering as a lobbyist (MA).

    But you are right, functional literacy should not be the sole goal or aim of education, wherever it takes place. Math skills are important, too.

    As for your father, I know some people like him. My father-in-law is a Spanish speaking immigrant who has great difficulties with written language and also had little formal schooling. A friend from church is completely illiterate, but has managed to memorize most of the Bible (and a lot of theology) thanks to works on tape. Yet if you ask them about the importance of education and literacy, they can\’t speak highly enough of it.

    Technical training is well and good, and the United States needs to promote vocational educational paths as an equally good alternative to college, but functional literacy and basic math skills are necessary for nearly all jobs in the future.

  48. Maureen says:

    Re: some comments above —

    Granted, when the outside world is more dangerous than school, school is a great \sanctuary and escape route to a better life. I applaud those who work in schools in such situations. And yes, for two worker families, it’s probably necessary to have public schools, because survival is better than starvation.

    But for a lot of us, school really was more of a constant evil with occasional gleams of sunlight to keep us from killing ourselves or opening fire on the whole place. (At a certain point during high school, I spent a few days seriously considering murdering most of my school, but I couldn’t find a good method that would spare the innocent. This was long before Columbine.)

    Socialization = victimization for a lot of us.

  49. Jason says:

    M.F. Bingham,

    I don’t disagree that we need “functional” skills. But it does not take 12 years of mandatory schooling to achieve that. The education system costs a lot of money for each student. The government could instead, for example, pay for children to go to tutors or skill-teachers. Or the parents could use the money to provide other means of learning (books, etc.). There could also be networks of volunteers who help others learn. We should be taking an interest in the intellectual life of society, and not just for children. Rather than making universities the standard of competency, we need to make competency the standard of competency. We need networks of intellectual engagement. Having a high school diploma or a degree doesn’t prove anything except that you managed to satisfy the requirements of the institution. And it creates a delusion that going to school means we’re learned.

  50. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    This proposal is not about helping kids, it is about helping companies afford cheap labor. In our country schools are not and have never been about educating children, they are babysitters for parents who work, and also help kill the spirit in a child, so as to make him a good “wage slave” in our industrial society.

    I homeschool, and we have school all year, because I want my children’s days to be balanced. We have a time for work, play, study and prayer, every day of the year. However, our “school” day is much shorter than a normal school day, and varies greatly with the age of the child. No child needs to spend eight hours a day at school, and then time with homework after that. There is no time for play, or work (study is not work, and should not be considered such), or prayer. The whole system in this country and most others needs to be completely scrapped.

  51. M.F. Bingham says:

    Christopher @11:46.

    “The whole system in this country and most others needs to be completely scrapped.”

    And replaced with WHAT? It’s great that you can do your ideal for your family. But you can trash something without a real, feasible alternative, and what you do is not feasible for all families. I don’t love the way public schools are run, the overall education establishment, and the legally forced abandonment of teaching virtue (not values). But I recognize that they are a necessary evil for our current society. The key is to figure out how to fix or replace what is broken, and I’m sorry, but mass homeschooling is not the answer.

  52. momoften says:

    I homeschool.I started after I was on the school board hoping to see or initiate change. There was no change.More fluff, all talk. The teachers and administrations are out of touch with each other. It has become a political arena, the education of children.It is NOT about educating children. It is about teaching to the test. It is about raising the tests scores of poor achievers to bring up your bottom line and forgetting about the high achievers.It is about teaching them about feelings (yes, esp in public schools)and attitudes. Is it the teachers’ fault, not always. It is the rules and boundaries given to them. I have a sister who has been in both Catholic and Public school systems. I know the politics. It is RIDICULOUS!!!! So, make school year round.In the end, they are trying to institutionalize our children, then you won’t have to take care of them, or teach them anything yourself.This will happen because parent apathy allows it to happen. Parent apathy is Obama’s best friend. That is why Obama, or anyone else will continue make the education system erode into one of the worst systems in the world. We’re in big trouble!

  53. Kradcliffe says:

    The more children are in school, the more hours both parents can work, doncha know!

  54. tim mccarthy says:

    Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear… Where the sisters had sixty kids per class and Mass b/4 school and sent us home at 2:30 pm, while expecting us to score two grade levels higher on our PSAT than the Public School kids. Where memorization was a byword, and logic was taught b/4 sixth grade. All the while saying an aspiration every twenty minutes to keep our little souls on track. Those Sister taught us and they expected us to learn, well. We have lost our way and need to return to these past tried and true ways.
    Tradition with a small “t” is the first line of defense of Tradition with a capital “T”. In other words to quote a recent commercial “we put the no in innovation.”

  55. Cathy says:

    Marcin,

    You can find the text of “Underground History of American Education” online at http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm. It’s not the same as holding a book in your hand, but there if you can’t find it elsewhere.

  56. I am not Spartacus says:

    Mr. Cundiff. I don’t understand why a Southron-at-heart like your own self insists on using,”gringos.”

    That aside, I remain opposed to year-round formalised education. Any school ought to be able to instill in their students a sense of autodidactism and love of learning or they aren’t competent to even have our kids for the number of months that they do have them.

    The family is The Domestic Church and it should also be, in imitation of Mary, The Seat of learning.

    Mr. Cundiff. Thanks for the kind words. Even though there were times in the past that I found you nettlesome I never failed to learn from you.

    IOW, you remain an effective teacher. God Bless you

  57. inillotempore says:

    The words of Our Lord in MK. 9:42 say it all:

    “And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were cast into the sea”.

    Our local technical school has proudly displayed on their school marquee : “Celebrating Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendre month”. I weep for those children and pray for the conversion of these secular progressives.

  58. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Mr. Bingham,

    Actually, I agree with you about homeschooling not being the answer. If I had the money there is a small school locally with three class rooms and students in grades 1-12 divided into those three classes, where I would send my children. There are three teachers and one administrator. Unfortunately, I do not have the $12,000 to send my children there (notice it is $12,000 for 6 children, not a bad price but beyond my means). Their website is here:

    http://www.littleriverschool.org/

    Or Catholics could try to implement some of the ideas in Innocence Lost by John Senior. This book focuses primarily on high school age boys, but it is a great program reflecting balance, and based on Catholic thought. My point is that there is plenty of people thinking outside the box on this issue, and the kids they serve do really well, but their ideas create children that have little interest in being wage slaves, and they also recognize the importance of the role of parents, a role that can not usually be fulfilled when both parents are working full-time. They understand that children are born with the desire to know, and it is their job to encourage that so the children fall in love with learning. Unfortunately, the current system for the most part destroys this desire to know, and make children hate the idea of learning.

  59. Dino says:

    If the schools would effectively use the time the kids are there, it would not be necessary to consider a longer school year. There seems to be a lot of time consumed with “tell your parents…” and cupcake birthday parties.
    If the schools would operate full-time during the school year, it would not be necessary to consider a longer school year. In my district, students are supposed to be in the classroom five hours a day, except the day each week the teachers get the afternoon off. Except the weeks with three-day weekends, often preceded by a no-student “teacher preparation day”. Except for the days when the teachers are out picketing to demand that their salaries ($40,000 to start) and classroom loads (20 pupils) be cut.
    There would probably be more money for necessary things if it was not being used to run buses across town, often passing other schools, in the name of diversity. Wouldn’t hurt to reduce the number of assistant superintendants, either.
    This year, we were also hit by a two-day “outdoor education” trip for only $230 per student. Parents were recruited to “help the teacher and the outdoor center staff”, and they only had to couugh up half the fee for this “opportunity”. Our kids found it boring; they already know what a tree, rock, a seashell looks like, and were not particularly impressed with three school cafeteria-type meals per day, meals subsidized by state tax funds. The school district, of course, receives a per diem for each participant, and the teacher gets a free ride.
    This is the system that turns out students who become teachers who cannot spell. (I have gotten into the snarky habit of correcting material sent home for parent review and approval.)

  60. M.F. Bingham says:

    Mr. Sarsfield,

    I apologize for misreading your example earlier. Little River certainly sounds like a fascinating adventure.

    To respond also to the topic at hand: I firmly believe that kids need summer. They need time unsullied by sports camps, academic clubs, and mandatory reading lists to use their imaginations, explore the woods, and even be bored! I live in Northern Virginia, and see how “top” students really are treated as products of their families, not as children. Every afternoon and evening is filled with activities, sports, and extracurriculars. The opposite extreme is in inner-city Chicago, where I previously worked and lived, and children’s lives are filled solely with TV, misogynistic rap music, and boredom because they aren’t allowed outside. Neither situation is healthy or good.

    The non-profit I worked for had a mandatory Parenting Program for the parent(s)/guardian(s) of each student. The main theme we emphasized was from JPII’s Letter to Families: Parents are the primary educators of their children.

    I think the debate over summer breaks v. year-round schooling, and the further debate on the existence or appropriateness of supporting public schools as presently constituted is in reality a debate over this very point. Many proponents are in favor of year-round schooling (including more weeks of instruction, not just spacing of weeks off) because they view the state to be the primary educators of children. This dangerous view should be combatted.

    However, parents have to determine for themselves what works best for them and their children. I think both year-round and traditional schedule choices should be available. Some families may find that a year-round schedule with regular breaks every 9 weeks helps to keep their children more focused during school terms and is amenable to the parents’ vacation availability. Others may determine that a long summer is what both the parents and students need to relax and recharge. The point is that the parents are the ones who need to decide what schedule for education works for them. The same decision needs to be allowed for school environment (homeschool, Catholic, private, public). And yes, I do include public schools in that list because 1) not all public school systems are lousy and messed up morally; 2) it’s easier to fight the amoral indoctrination of a public school than the immoral twisting of real Catholicism that occurs in bad Catholic schools; and 3) homeschooling’s not for everyone.

  61. RBrown says:

    Maeana has got it completely correct. Year-round school is the way to go, is what they do in many European countries, and reflects better the way people really are, children included. Take it from this old school teacher: Kids have forgotten much come September, and quit working in April.
    Comment by Sid Cundiff

    If memory serves, the Italian school year is 11 months, but they only go half a day.

  62. David says:

    I agree with those who point out that Obama and liberals like him aren’t interested in education, but in manipulating children and families. The extension of the school year has more to do with usurping parental responsibilities than it does classical education. “Indoctrination” is a better word than “education” when it comes to state imposed compulsory education and the public school system.

  63. Latekate says:

    Comment by M.F. Bingham — 19 June 2009 @ 10:58 am:

    “Have you actually worked with or in a public school system, much less a public school system? What blogs or group-pages do you get your half-truths from? Public schools are far from perfect. They have many flaws, and individual schools and school systems should probably be disbanded and completely reorganized.”

    Yes. I worked in a school district for a year in a non-educational professional capacity. I was disgusted by the smug and arrogant teaching staff who routinely ridiculed students and their parents, sat the smelly kid in the back of the class, looked down on the single moms working in bars, etc. I have posted absolutely NOTHING untruthful. I have attended countless school board and committee meetings. I have read extensively on the subject. I recommend John Taylor Gatto (former NYC Teacher of the Year) “Underground History of American Education” for starters, former Reagan Dept. of Ed. employee Charlotte Iserbyts “Deliberately Dumbing Us Down” is excellent. The NEAs own website is full of Marxist ideology. Samuel Blumenfeld details the methods of the animals trainers who designed government schooling and the Marxists who took it over and have used it to convert the population to state worship in “NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education”.

    “However, to suggest that inner-city children would be better off with no schools whatsoever and simply on their own rather than “kidjails” (what a term) reflects an absolute ignorance and cruel disregard for their lives.”

    Nonsense! Historically children have helped the family earn income and rear siblings at much younger ages than is customary in todays artificially prolonged adolescence. A very large number of inventors and leaders were home educated or tutored. Edison was considered to be mentally deficient by his teachers, for example. Read about Admiral Farragut. Kids used to apprentice to learn a trade. Now they are required to spend YEARS of their lives in jails called schools where they are made to conform and perform according to what someone else deems is good for “society”. What is cruel is locking up children and forcing them to conform to the standards of a bunch of statists learning to accept illogic and having their traditions, religions and values stripped.

    “1) First and foremost, most teachers don’t go into the profession looking to brain………………..e one good hour of instruction per day) is much more learning than these kids ever get at home in front of the TV or in the vacant lots that serve as playgrounds.”

    Nowhere did I say kids should sit in front of a TV all day. Are there some good teachers? Some, but they quickly learn to do what they are told and spend their time managing kids. Are kids unruly?? Many are, but are the products of people who were also “Educated” by the schools, taught about “safe sex”, “value judgements”, etc., etc. The government thrives on our disfunction so they create it. Satisfying standardized tests are learning what some crat making way too much money somewhere deemed important to learn. So the 15 minute lesson your saintly teacher squeezed in was probably worthless to the student, no matter if it helped the teacher keep her job.

    “2) Public school performance is atrocious, but that is in no small part to our coddling of our kids. We declare that of course we want teachers to grade fairly (except for that small, largely discredited self-esteem contingent), but then complain to the teacher and principal when Dear Johnny gets a D, which ruins his chance at Harvard in 4th grade! Of course, for many inner city schools, no parent cares enough to either complain about or enact meaningful punishments for poor performance. We don’t support teachers who actually demand achievement, much less discipline, from our children, so how the heck can teachers succeed when students know there are no negative repercussions?”

    Here’s an idea. FREE THE KIDS and you won’t have to worry about “coddling” them! Turn them loose and let people keep the fruits of their labor. If parents value the services of the teacher, he/she will have a job….like in the real world.

    “And when those of us (including myself) who have no plans to allow our kids to go to such school systems hear about such stories, what do we do? We just laugh and say, “That’s why I homeschool/send Jane to St. Mary the Orthodox.””

    YES!

    ” Instead, we need to support those teachers and systems who do try to have standards. After all, Jane or Johnny will have to interact with those students one day and may even marry one of them.”

    Why?? Would you support a hospital with such a record?? How about a lawyer that had such dismal results? Hopefully, Jane or Johnny will use some discernment is choosing a mate and won’t marry a dullard or a lazy person.

    “3) Yes, many inner-city moms view public school as cheap daycare while they work. Of course, they have to work because the father is nowhere in sight. “So,” you exclaim, “if people weren’t sleeping around and having illegitimate children, this problem will go away! Mothers could stay home with their children and give them the proper instruction and care needed.” 1 small problem with this: even if all extra-marital relations everywhere ceased tomorrow, you still have a generation of children without two parents. Those children have to be educated and cared for somehow.”

    And that is where churches and charity come into play. Without the kidjails sucking up the money they do there would be a variety of options, mom-schools, etc. What is going on is making the situation worse and it is by design. There is no “right” to education and what the kidjails provide is NOT education. It’s a no-brainer.

    “4) The functional illiteracy of inner-city public school graduates is appalling and its effects of their communities last for generations. Can you imagine what it was like when most inner city people were completely illiterate? Do you really want to go back there by disbanding public education? Really?”

    What ARE you talking about??? Literacy rates have plummeted WITH the advent of government schooling. Before government schooling literacy rates were VERY high. YES! Government dumbs us down! A few years ago an administrator in my own district was quoted in the paper as saying that there would only be jobs for 20% of the kids to go to college, the rest would be vocationally trained. How do you suppose they picked the 80% for their vo-ed track? Do you suppose any of the administrators kids were in that 80%??

    “I worked with an inner-city child who was overweight, watched way-too-much TV, and played……..ks at his van (police determined the mistaken identity, not that it matters).”

    And none of that has ANYTHING to do with education. You are talking about social work, helping the poor, etc. That needs done, but it is not education.

    “This is the kind of environment that inner city kids live in. This is what you argue kids would be better off in rather than public schools. So if you really believe this, you have no heart, no real compassion, for the children who don’t have a choice as to the environment they live in.”

    I am saying the government needs to get out of the way. If there were no kidjails churches and charities would step up to help really educate. Kids would apprentice to trades, they would be interacting and learning in the real world, would go to schools that fuel their interests. The case you cite is sad but it hardly justifies the jailing of all children until the age of 18. And there have been plenty of cases where children were in danger in the kidjails as well, terrorized by bullies, miserable human beings who happen to have teaching degrees and molesters. Sorry you think I am heartless but your system of indoctrinating day care is a high price to pay because some women make poor choices and their kids suffer. You should spend some effort on making those neighborhoods safer and the situations of those women and children better, a community center or such, privately funded to keep the baddies out. Expecting the educational establishment to play nanny at the outrageous costs intellectually, psychically, socially, and financially is wrongheaded.

    “There is no simple solution to the education problem, which yes, is rooted in so many areas (university Education departments, anyone?). But the fundamental failure is in the breakdown of the family. Until that is fixed, no real progress can or will be made.”

    The govschools deliberately undermine the family. They undermine the Church, they undermine the individual, they indoctrinate in collectivism. They are churches for the state, the teachers priests and priestesses for the state. Expecting them to take the place of the family is leading to the ever increasing chaos and dysfunction we now suffer. A lot of us have taken years educating ourselves and unlearning lies, propaganda and herd behaviors instilled in the indoctrination gulag.

  64. TNCath says:

    As a public school teacher, I can tell you firsthand that lengthening the school year would be the WORST possible thing President Obama could do. Why take something that is already a failure and lengthen it?

  65. Sid Cundiff says:

    1. I thank Non Sparticus for his kind remarks, and there’s merit in his observations about schooling.

    2. I ask RBrown how his remarks on Italian school hours weakens the substance of my argument. I know the German situation better, where students are at their desks early and out by one pm, thereupon to go home for lunch, instead of asking the taxpayer to provide a cafeteria. My guess is that this system has just as many minutes of actual daily instruction as American schools. The payoff is in the actual yearly instruction.

    3. Bear-i-ton has made an important observation. One of the many curses of American schooling is the comprehensive high school, where two youths are obliged to attend the same school and are “mainstreamed” into the same class, one of whom is destined to push a broom (and this is honorable work) and and the other of whom is destined to reflect of the difference between Husserl’s and Hume’s epistemologies (and this is honorable reflection). The US of A is one of the few countries that does this. Almost everywhere else kids with different aptitudes (what an ugly word!)go to different schools after the 4th or 8th grades, e.g. the French Lycée and the German Gymnasium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnasium_(Germany). By so doing, the kids learn more. And it’s also one of the principles of distributive justice: to each according to his ability. Give a free flute to a someone who can learn to play it. Elitist? You bet!

    4. What happened to Maeana’s fine first post?

  66. Kimberly says:

    I agree Fr. Z. I worked as a subsitute teacher for awhile and I was dismayed at how the time was used. What was taught in that normal school day would have fit into two hours.

  67. mfg says:

    If it is not in the Constitution, it (education) is reserved to the states and the people. I do not find education in the Constitution under Executive powers, Legislative powers, or Judicial powers. therefore it is a power grab by the Executive, and he should hear from the people (especially parents, but all taxpayers) on this.

  68. JW says:

    I have been substitute teaching in a large urban school district. I’ve seen kids do badly because they have deadbeat parents who don’t care about education, even though they have excellent and committed teachers, and I have seen them do badly because they have crappy deadbeat teachers.

    I once subbed for a day in a classroom where the teacher had systematically called in sick almost every day for nearly a month. The school was bound by the rules not to get a long-term substitute because she had not phoned in a long-term absence, so instead the kids got a new sub every day with no lesson plans. Teaching them anything was impossible since nothing had been expected of them for a very long time and they knew there would be a new sub the next day anyway. The janitor was shocked that I could even get them to pick up some of the trash off the floor. Teachers like that need to be fired. Conversely, I’ve also spent entire days just calming kids down – making them sit and not shout profanity at each other. A lot of these kids came from neighborhoods most people wouldn’t venture into after dark. I think a lot of their troubles come from their home life, and no amount of extra school hours is going to fix problems that are promptly undone once the kid goes home.

    Year round school might be helpful in some contexts, but there would need to be a gigantic initial investment in air-conditioning. Most of the schools I worked in were built between 1890-1940. A lot of school districts removed the gigantic widows from their older schools and replaced them with tiny windows that don’t open, so creating good ventilation would be impossible. I should mention that I love the older schools – they have high ceilings, spacious coat rooms, and often times get more natural light in the classrooms. The old buildings also have a lot of aesthetic beauty and character that is missing in the typical cinderblock prisons that pass for schools now.

    Good teachers are not paid too much, IMO. A good teacher spends an enormous amount of unpaid time planning, grading, and working with students.

  69. Maeana says:

    I’d still like to know exactly what Obama’s proposal is. As I re-read the proposal as Fr. Z describes it, it doesn’t really sound like the 10 weeks on, two weeks off idea, but just adding more days to the school year. I fully agree that isn’t a good idea. If something isn’t working very well, you don’t just do the same thing for more time. Could somebody link to exactly what is being proposed?
    I also understand Mr.Cundiff’s point about Americans not thinking education is important, although it isn’t so much education we see as unimportant. We are actually a very over educated society. It is intelligence and hard work that are looked down on. Smart kids hide their perfect scores so they don’t get picked on. It is people who get ahead the “easy” way that get our admiration. We worship our entertainers, our athletes. High school is a social club, and college is just an extension of it with lots more overnights. In general, our educational system isn’t a way to learn as much as you can about everything you can. It is simply something that you get through in order to get a decent paying job. Right now, my boys LOVE to learn. My oldest son knows so much more than I’ve taught him because he is always reading, always discovering. I still remember the first time I was made fun of for having my hand in the air all the time. How my classmates told me to fail a physics quiz so that the teacher would grade on a curve. Being the smart girl in class wasn’t a good label. I never want my children to see intelligence as a negative. It seems crazy that I even have to write that.
    Honestly, the teachers unions will never allow extra teaching days, or year round school for that matter. No matter how much they love Obama, they like their summer breaks more. They also don’t speak for all teachers. My husband chose not to join his because they absolutely do not speak for him (although they still take his dues). Now if President Obama ever threatens to take away our right to homeschool, I will fight back with everything I have. That, the teacher’s unions will be behind 100%.

  70. RBrown says:

    Vouchers will cause the demise of the few decent private schools that do exist as they all jump through the government hoops to get the money. Look at the university system, look what the millions in government money have done for Notre Dame. Sorry guys, it is time to step out of the boat and live as God intended, not robbing some to pay for utopian promises to others.
    Comment by Latekate — 19 June 2009 @ 10:03 am

    Vouchers would work like the GI Bill, not govt grants to universities.

    The present situation is unjust. About one third of all US secondary schools are private, but the familes of those students pay to support the public school system.

  71. RBrown says:

    2. I ask RBrown how his remarks on Italian school hours weakens the substance of my argument. I know the German situation better, where students are at their desks early and out by one pm, thereupon to go home for lunch, instead of asking the taxpayer to provide a cafeteria. My guess is that this system has just as many minutes of actual daily instruction as American schools. The payoff is in the actual yearly instruction.

    The topic of this thread is whether the school year should be longer. I simply said that even though the Italian school year is longer, each school day is shorter. The obvious conclusion is that the longer school year doesn’t necessarily increase class time.

    BTW, I agree with Fr Z, that, presuming a certain minimum of days of instruction, the quality of education cannot be improved by increasing the class time.

    3. Bear-i-ton has made an important observation. One of the many curses of American schooling is the comprehensive high school, where two youths are obliged to attend the same school and are “mainstreamed” into the same class, one of whom is destined to push a broom (and this is honorable work) and and the other of whom is destined to reflect of the difference between Husserl’s and Hume’s epistemologies (and this is honorable reflection). The US of A is one of the few countries that does this. Almost everywhere else kids with different aptitudes (what an ugly word!)go to different schools after the 4th or 8th grades, e.g. the French Lycée and the German Gymnasium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnasium_(Germany). By so doing, the kids learn more. And it’s also one of the principles of distributive justice: to each according to his ability. Give a free flute to a someone who can learn to play it. Elitist? You bet!
    Comment by Sid Cundiff

    I finished high school in 1965. I cannot address the present situation (although I’m told it hasn’t changed), but my high school had various strains. I never had classes with anyone who was headed for college.

    The irony in the US is that the student who takes physics, chemistry, and advanced math and English receives the same diploma given to someone who takes welding and woodworking. The same is true at the university level–a graduate of Duke who has studied Latin and Greek receives the same degree as a basketball player who majored in sociology.

  72. meg says:

    Father Z. mentioned The Lost Tools of Learning. I believe he is referring to the essay on education written by Dorothy Sayers in the 1940’s. It is worth reading if you haven’t done so already.

    Here are some bits:

    “Is not the great defect of our education today a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils subjects, we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning. It is as though we had taught a child, mechanically and by rule of thumb, to play the Harmonious Blacksmith upon the piano, but had never taught him the scale or how to read music; so that, having memorized the Harmonious Blacksmith, he still had not the faintest notion how to proceed from that to tackle the Last Rose of Summer…”

    “For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.”

    And this was the 1940’s!

  73. Andrew Siwko says:

    If Sayers interests you, look into classical education: http://classicalliberalarts.com/

    From the web site:

    You shouldn’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel to
    provide your children with an excellent Christian education,
    especially when you have access to the same curriculum that
    has enjoyed universal success for over 2,000 years.
    The Classical Liberal Arts Academy ensures that your children
    receive an education that is timeless and trustworthy.

  74. Snupnjake says:

    As I am working on my doctoral research in a college of education, I find the comments posted here fascinating.

    I will agree the school system is largely inefficient. I can attest to this in the college of education. I took a class that had a prereq. You will never guess what we coverend in the class…all the stuff that was covered in the class that was a prerequisite. Nothing new was added to the conversation.

    I find Jame’s posts the most fascinating of all. Sure. It doesn’t take someone 12 years to learn to read, write and cipher. So we get the kids in teach them how to read and write and they are all good at age 10. Then what? Child labor is illegal in this country (except on a farm) so the kids can’t be employed until 16 to 18.

    Then what are they going to do? The jobs that required no skills and payed a decent wage are gone. We don’t make anything tangible in this country anymore. It’s hard to be a knowledge worker if you have no knowledge.

    Someone mentioned social promotion as the problem. This is one area in which there is sufficient robust education research. Overall, students who are held back, have horrible long-term outcomes. Most quit. What we need are open schools, that let the children move around by ability and by interest. We need a return to trades and vocational training.

    One problem some of my inner-city teacher friends have mentioned is that the kids think they are going to be the next big basketball star or rap star and therefore don’t need an education.

    Also, tracking which someone mentioned they do in other countries, goes against the great American myth that anyone can succeed if they work hard enough. Additionally, tracking is overwhelmingly racist.

  75. EDG says:

    Meg, T.S. Eliot also wrote some brilliant things about education. I think there was a time when smart Christians saw the handwriting on the wall and realized that public education and educational trends were heading off in another direction altogether.

    That said, I’d like to know what gives Obama – who, as Charles Krauthammer said, floats above the world and is believed by the press to be God – the right to say anything about the length of the school year. This guy is a micromanaging loony and every morning when I get up he has tightened the rope and come closer. But why? Americans in the past, when we were successful, were not subject to 24 hr monitoring and having the face of the president appear on their breakfast toast. Why is this happening?

  76. Jason says:

    Then what are they going to do? The jobs that required no skills and payed a decent wage are gone. We don’t make anything tangible in this country anymore. It’s hard to be a knowledge worker if you have no knowledge.

    But again, the assumption here is that “knowledge” equates to “schooling.” I can’t say that I learned anything valuable in my years in school, except how to read, write, and do basic math. I’ve forgotten everything else, either because I have no use for it, or because I didn’t care enough to remember it. I mentioned my father before. He’s a house painter. He has a certain common sense that people learn when they are required to actually find their way in life. My mother is a custodian. I have never seen her read a book in my life. Again, her knowledge is life knowledge that has nothing to do with schools. Frankly, I don’t know if I could do the work my mother and father do, at least not as well as they do it. Even if someone wants to pursue an intellectual life, mandatory schooling only imposes artificial curriculum and assignments on them, rather than allowing them to freely explore ideas and interests. For workers, they need to realize that their livelihood depends on their learning skills or a specific trade. That should be motivation enough. Mandatory schooling only shelters them from entering real life.

  77. RBrown says:

    Should read:

    I finished high school in 1965. I cannot address the present situation (although I’m told it hasn’t changed), but my high school had various strains. I never had classes with anyone who was NOT headed for college.
    Comment by RBrown —

  78. mrteachersir says:

    As I write I am the last commenter…

    A couple of observations:

    1) We have a public school system because as Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Carnegie wrote, a society such as ours needs educated people to run the government and our companies. Everyone should be given the opportunity to learn what they are capable of learning and making the most out of their lives. This is what make a democracy work.

    2) We have an incredible amount of state and federal oversight in our public schools, so much so that even local curriculum must be approved by at the state level (so our kids can pass the test). Local schools are no longer a reflection of their communities or their communities’ values. For instance, while a teacher can be removed for violating the values of the communities, often the curriculum they are forced to teach violates the community’s values.

    3) Public schools have always been vital to our youth, since they started. They saved young children from work in deadly factories and coal mines. They provided women with a means for becoming doctors and helping enrich our nation. They have provided the impetus for Catholic schools.

    4) Our public schools are becoming Hitler’s Youth programs and Communist Reeducation camps by virtue of the “approved” cuuriculum being shove down our kid’s throats. This begins in the Universities, where our teachers and administrators are trained. Having graduated from such a program, the prospective teachers and administrators are taught to think in a subtly Marxist way. They develop their curriculum this way, they organize their classroom this way, and they are encouraged to grade in this way. When these do not work for the new teachers, they become discouraged and lose faith in their mission.

    5) Public schools are vital to our nation’s success, and important for our youth. However, one of the major problems with them is that they do not see kids for who they truly are: blessings from God. Kids are either a nuissance, a captive audience, the future of our nation, etc. When public schools can start looking at kids as individual blessings to us all, much will change.

  79. Latekate says:

    Mrteachersir: “1) We have a public school system because as Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Carnegie wrote, a society such as ours needs educated people to run the government and our companies. Everyone should be given the opportunity to learn what they are capable of learning and making the most out of their lives. This is what make a democracy work.”

    If you read the history of government schooling in the US you will see that Carnegie was among the industrialists who endorsed the use of schooling to produce conforming obedient employees for himself and his fellow indiustrialists and bankers. These people especially feared the hordes of immigrating Catholics. And as a TEACHER, you should know that the US is supposed to be a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC, not a (mob rule) democracy. The founders FEARED democracy, having seen how it devolved in Greece.

    “3) Public schools have always been vital to our youth, since they started. They saved young children from work in deadly factories and coal mines. They provided women with a means for becoming doctors and helping enrich our nation. They have provided the impetus for Catholic schools.”

    Nonsense. Public schools frequently have dumbed kids down to KEEP them working in local factories and businesses. I know of one shop class that bought a computerized program for machining that was extremely specific to a local business and pretty much useless for anything else. The govschools provided the impetus for Catholic schools because some very smart Catholics saw what was being done and feared the indoctrination away from the Faith. And besides, no matter if everything you said was true, the ends do not justify the means. You can’t tax peoples property away from them for the “greater good”. That is Machiavellian, my friend.

    “4) Our public schools are becoming Hitler’s Youth programs and Communist Reeducation camps by virtue of the “approved” cuuriculum being shove down our kid’s throats. This begins in the Universities, where our teachers and administrators are trained. Having graduated from such a program, the prospective teachers and administrators are taught to think in a subtly Marxist way. They develop their curriculum this way, they organize their classroom this way, and they are encouraged to grade in this way. When these do not work for the new teachers, they become discouraged and lose faith in their mission.”

    This is true. I have even read that they now screen the state teachers colleges for “true believers” in Marxism.

    “5) Public schools are vital to our nation’s success, and important for our youth. However, one of the major problems with them is that they do not see kids for who they truly are: blessings from God. Kids are either a nuissance, a captive audience, the future of our nation, etc. When public schools can start looking at kids as individual blessings to us all, much will change.”

    You are expecting an atheistic, Darwinist, collectivist, Marxist system based on theft and aggression, who view our children as mere creatures of the state, as animal resources, to view kids as gifts from God?? Why on earth why??

  80. Latekate says:

    Snupnjake:

    “I find Jame’s posts the most fascinating of all. Sure. It doesn’t take someone 12 years to learn to read, write and cipher. So we get the kids in teach them how to read and write and they are all good at age 10. Then what? Child labor is illegal in this country (except on a farm) so the kids can’t be employed until 16 to 18.”

    And why is this?? Why are young folks jailed until the age of 18 to keep them out of the workforce? Why is child labor illegal? Is there something especially noble about kids simply playing until they are 18?

    “Then what are they going to do? The jobs that required no skills and payed a decent wage are gone. We don’t make anything tangible in this country anymore. It’s hard to be a knowledge worker if you have no knowledge.”

    This comment is referring to our controlled economy. We are told we are free but our lives are tightly controlled by regulations and credentialling requirements that are increasingly meaningless and exist simply to keep the little guy from competing with established interests who pay off, excuse me, LOBBY the politicians. Of course, all of this is presented as “protecting” us and “for the common good”. In a controlled command economy there ARE only so many jobs. Free the people, allow people to make their own work, to innovate, to sell their services freely and watch the economy boom. Why do you think we are still driving internal combustion engines? There is a LOT of money in it for some folks. There are always unskilled and low skilled jobs. It is just nearly impossible to hire them without running afoul of some law or endless red tape.

    “Someone mentioned social promotion as the problem. This is one area in which there is sufficient robust education research. Overall, students who are held back, have horrible long-term outcomes. Most quit. What we need are open schools, that let the children move around by ability and by interest. We need a return to trades and vocational training.”

    NO. We ned to stop trying to force OUR views on OTHER people. Let people keep their tax money and buy the educational services THEY want, not what some committee thinks would be best.

    “One problem some of my inner-city teacher friends have mentioned is that the kids think they are going to be the next big basketball star or rap star and therefore don’t need an education.”

    Well, what good is the “education” they are getting?? Some of these inner city kids are so behavioral because they KNOW the system is rigged. They KNOW on some level it’s all a sham, that they are nothing but caged animals to the ruling elites.

    “Also, tracking which someone mentioned they do in other countries, goes against the great American myth that anyone can succeed if they work hard enough. Additionally, tracking is overwhelmingly racist.”

    I agree, tracking is immoral but so is the whole premise of government schooling, my sister was a big troublemaker in school, graduated, decided to get serious and is now an MD. You don’t hand your kids over to your rulers to educate. They make a show of it but they are dumbing down and creating rootless amoral animal like people while their OWN kids go to places like Sidwell Friends.

  81. Snupnjake says:

    <>

    Fine. I refuse to educate my children. Instead I decide to make them work cleaning houses. Excellent. They won’t know when the boss is cheating them because they can’t count money or add. They won’t be able to fill out their tax forms because they can’t read or write. They will have to pay someone to do so. They won’t know that they can’t mix certain chemicals because they can’t read. They won’t be able to find another job because they can’t fill out the applications.

    Ah. And because they can’t read, they won’t be able to read the Bible or the Catechism. So when Father Hippie says In the name of the creator, redeemer and sanctifier…they won’t know it’s wrong.

    Kids are kept out of the workforce for safety reasons, for economic reasons and for developmental reasons. First, if I can hire some 10 year old to clean my house at a dirt cheap price, why should I hire a mother who needs to support her family at a decent wage? Also, there are only so many low-wage and unskilled jobs, eventually they will all be filled. For safety reasons, because many kids are not big enough to reach buttons or what have you to operate machines. Also exposure to some workplace environments can retard physical and mental growth, cutting life expectancy.

    One reason kids are kids for so long is that the human brain doesn’t finish fully developing until 18-20 and may be as late as 25.

    Nonsense. That is what welfare is for. Additionally, most kids are not capable of the forward planning that this requires. They have no concept of what the future is and that they might need to do something in it. By the time they do get a clue, they are in their late teens early twenties if even then.

  82. High School Trad says:

    Father,

    I am in high school, discerning a vocation, and love your blog. I am in public school in the US. What is destroying education is this notion of radical equality. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings! The new textbooks ordered are dumbed down from the last edition. We need a new principal, and one of the requirements advertised is “progressive.” Another is “thoughtful.” I was not aware progressive and thoughtful could go together!

    The sad part is, it is a rural, red county. Yet, the ultra liberal union leaders have partnered with the liberal administrators, and conservative teachers (in educational methods) are starting to go.

    The teachers who do not want to go along with these Gramscians (and there are some, I have spoken with them in private) are afraid to speak out.

    Thanks for killing real education, Democratic Party!

    Even the students are getting fed up.

    For more information, read “Death of the West” by Patrick Buchanan. It describes what I have witnessed with my own eyes.

    Pray for America.

  83. High School Trad says:

    I forgot to add: It is ironic to me that many teachers whine about NCLB, yet, the main proponant of it was Ted Kennedy! And the union remains a tool of the Democratic Party (Which is definitely no longer the party it was before the 60s.)

    My solution would be not a longer school year, but old fashioned methods of education.

    And the Department of Education has got to go.

  84. Donald Casadonte says:

    This subject is both fascinating and sad. There is no universal method of teaching. At best, we can work on the general approaches and modify them in special cases. How to education has, for the most part, been understood correctly since the time of Socrates and there has been very little improvement, since, otherwise, populations, as a whole, should be getting more and more sophisticated. Just as the development of medicine has made populations, on the whole, less sickly (and, yes, I konw most of that is due to sanitation, but who discovered the need?), if education were truly a science and making progess, students should be developing into less sickly thinkers.

    I don’t see it. In over twenty-five years of college education and teaching, I see a small sub-population greatly achieving while a larger population becomes less able to think, clearly. Two books I highly recommend are: The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, which can be downloaded and, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30), by Mark Bauerlein. The book by John Taylor Gatto is also available, online. I am not against compulsory education, nor am I a conspiracy nut. These authors have some good points, but do not take them to be the final word. Education before and after WWII are two completely different things and history of education provided in these books is not as continuous as things might seem because they do not take into account the reciprocal effect of social change on education. Openning up education to the masses makes education much more influenced by society-at-large, then it did in the relatively genteel days before WWII.

    That having been said and as much as I respect Dorothy Sayers, creative thinking requires both learned facts and creativity. It is not the case, today, that students are being trained to learn rote facts. It simply isn’t. In fact, young people can hardly memorize a few sentences, let alone a speech from Shakespere. A college English professor who is a friend of mine once told me that she used to have students learn thirty lines of Shakespere and recite it to the class, but that she had to stop because the students couldn’t do it anymore. We are losing the collective memeory which makes a culture stable, it would seem.

    Longer school days or longer school years will have very little positive effect on learning. Until there is a respect for learning that re-manifests itself in this culture, I fear that all will be lost. Most of my colleagues, many of whom have taught in public schools, are of the same mind in what we see. I do not like to be pessimistic, but the loss of seeing education as a privilege and not simply as means to an end, follows the more generalized deterioration in respect in society for any sort of culture-preserving order, be it marriage or manners or gentleness or morals.

    If you think education is the real issue, here, you are badly mistaken.

  85. Joe from Pittsburgh says:

    I will NOT allow the likes of Barack Obama and his minions to have control over my son\’s education.

    We will homeschool or he will go with his mother to Colombia before Obama and his brain-dead followers get their hands on my son\’s education or health or anything else.

  86. gabrielle hullis says:

    pueri aestate si valent, satis discunt.

    Martial surely?

  87. Brian Mershon says:

    Why does NOBODY–Catholic or otherwise–talk about the principle of subsidiarity? Pres. Obama seems to have a FEDERAL solution to EVERYTHING, doesn’t he?

    I think we as Catholics should re-read Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum and then Quardragesimo Anno and refigure out what government’s role really is supposed to be in our lives.

    More school days… That solution certainly is not directed toward benefitting the children.

  88. Merriweather says:

    Time to pull out of the government fool system and homeschool.

  89. Juli says:

    From a book called “The Lost City” by Alan Ehrenhalt, page 236…

    In 1890, 6% of 14-17 year olds were in high school
    In 1930, about 50% “” “”
    In the late 1950s, about over 80 ” “”

    That certainly makes me think about education in a different light.

    ~~
    I would have hated to be in school year round. When young, I believe our brains need rest! Otherwise, we run the risk of raising young workaholics.

    ~~

    @ Snupnjake – I am 43 years old, and my school district tracked us through the end of 8th grade. It wasn’t immoral – it worked. Perhaps we are thinking of different things by ‘tracking’? From year to year, some people moved into different tracks based on their performance.