Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Have we lost our minds?!

Florida is thinking about changing their public schools to a 4-day week. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the school district is financially strapped and is looking for cost-cutting alternatives.

What in the world are we thinking???

Rearrange city services...cut legislator's pay...let the banks fail...arrange for bartering systems or something...but NEVER cut education!!

I am a big fan of being "green." Part of Florida's plan is to eliminate the 5th day of school...probably a Friday...so that they can power down the electricity for three days in a row. Saving electricity makes sense to me. Cutting kids' education doesn't.

Not only does cutting out that 5th day lesson a child's exposure to education (I didn't read anywhere that said they would extend the other days to make up for it), but it also creates a system of more unsupervised children on the streets for an entire day of the week. Cutting out an entire day would either require businesses to restructure for their employees or will cause children to be at home alone and unsupervised.

If we are going to change the way schools operate (which I am not opposed to that...we are working on an agrarian system that was developed long ago), we must also change the way we offer day care, create work weeks, and design education to maximize learning.

Why can we not make the connection that the way we choose to educate students now is going to affect our economy, our society, our communities? If we don't look at the entire picture, the devastating results are going to happen sooner than later.

We've got to change this mentality of cutting or even simply sustaining our schools. As I mentioned, I'm a fan of restructuring the schools. We need major investment into our schools. Every school wired for the internet. Every child using a computer. Every child required to take an annual technology class that would teach them innovative uses of technology. Technology incorporated into every other class as well. Practical application of basic subjects (e.g. DNA studies for science, dance classes for math, use of checkbooks and debit cards to pay for lunch and a financial literacy class to help them balance their checkbook, business simulations, etc.).

Right now, several states have let elementary and secondary schools switch to the shorter weeks, including Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota and Montana. Others, including Missouri and New York, are weighing it.

What do we need to do to get our voice heard on this?? Who's making the changes...and who are they asking for advice? If it's not parents who have children in public schools...and if it's not teachers who truly have an interest in educating children...they are asking the wrong people.
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