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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 8, 2009 / 20 Tishrei 5770

It's time to get smarter on extended school day

By Michael Smerconish



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and odd couple Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich were in Philadelphia to promote President Obama's education overhaul. Their first stop was Mastery Charter School's Shoemaker campus. Students there attend class until 4 p.m. — more than an hour past the typical public school dismissal — and on Saturdays.

The same day, our 13-year-old was on his school bus by 7 a.m. School began at 8. His classroom instruction ended at 2:45 in the afternoon. He then had mandatory after-school athletics — a cross-country match — and got home around 4:45. It's a long day.

Not all school days are as long or as rigorous as our son's, and so the president wants schools across the country to add hours to the day or days to the year. "Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here," Duncan said recently. "I just want to level the playing field."

"Six hours a day just doesn't cut it," he added on the day before his Philly visit. "Our school calendar's based on a 19th-century agrarian economy. I'm sure there weren't too many kids in Philadelphia working in their parents' fields this summer."

He makes sense, but the current system is not a failure for every child in the city or its suburbs. And while the outdated U.S. curriculum can certainly be tweaked, it shouldn't come at the expense of teachers already burdened with filling a void that some parents' inattention leaves. Already we ask them to play the role of social workers, therapists, health-care providers and disciplinarians.

And not everyone agrees that the academic surface is unlevel. Tom Loveless is an education policy expert at the Brookings Institution and a former public policy professor at Harvard. "American kids actually go to school more than the international average," he told me. "When you add up all the minutes in a year, their number of minutes in school exceeds the international average."

So what explains the lagging U.S. education efforts? "We probably don't use our time in school as efficiently as some countries, so we're not as focused strictly on academic matters. We do a lot of other things in schools that other countries don't do," Loveless told me. Foreign over-achievers, meanwhile, also dedicate more time outside the classroom to what Loveless called "academic pursuits." Not homework, but not Halo either.

Two days after Duncan, Sharpton and Gingrich visited Philadelphia, another news item caught my eye: A Washington Post article detailing how new U.S. Census data provided a first-time glimpse at the makeup of stay-at-home mothers. Far from the conventional wisdom that they're career women who hopped off the fast track, the census data showed that stay-at-home moms are more likely to be younger, less educated, and from families with lower incomes.

Which got me thinking. It's those elements — less education, less money, less experience — that make it more difficult for families to reinforce a child's education. Those children are the ones with the most to benefit from longer school days and years. Arguably they're better off at school than at home when it comes to academics.

Which is why Loveless believes that President Obama and Secretary Duncan are proposing a culture shift. Years ago, he pointed out, wearing a seatbelt was considered an afterthought and a hassle. "Today it's simply part of what a person does when they get into in a car. And that was promoted by the government, so we had a change in the culture."

"Now obviously the government can't cram things down the public's throat," he continued. "But what they can do is just — in a very rational manner — ... take academic excellence more seriously, and one way we can do that is by increasing the amount of time kids spend in school ... if we take it more seriously as a culture, we're going to do better in terms of academics."

All of which makes sense. But if Loveless' observations are correct — and efficiency and after-school pursuits are the real issues — why expand the time all American kids spend in school? Not every student's culture needs to change. And keeping students in school longer forces everybody to compensate for a relative few.

It also shifts the burden of afterschool enlightenment from parents to teachers when some of the parents are themselves in need of a bit more adult supervision.

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Previously:

09/03/09 What a summer of eulogizing flawed public figures reveals about society 08/12/09 It's time for cyclists and motorists to reconcile
08/05/09 Faces have changed, but vitriol remains
06/25/09 Fair comment or foul? Warm up the Muzzle Meter
06/08/09 Believability is key in crime-hoax villains
05/14/09 Did Hollywood inspire the meltdown men?
04/20/09 Let's give killers their due: Anonymity
03/12/09 Uninsured who can't afford medical care lose a lot more
02/06/09 My debate with Musharraf on hunt for bin Laden
01/29/09 Torture must remain an option
01/15/09 Making a case for suing Madoff
12/22/08 A difficult but rational chat about ‘plans’
12/17/08 Facebook epidemic: More than 120 million have joined, many too old for this nonsense
12/01/08 The high price of downsizing the news biz
11/14/08 Prescience on greed, arrogance of a system
09/29/08 Closer look at party lines
08/26/08 Obama's pick creates GOP opportunity
08/21/08 Fishing with the Angry Everyman
07/31/08 The perils of e-mail: Ponder, then click
05/22/08 Two very different sides of the Internet
02/12/08 Sublimely ridiculous suits
11/28/08 Cell phones cut out secondary circle of kinship
09/26/07 What do we owe those who have died in Iraq?
08/30/07 A Navy SEAL's gut-wrenching tale of survival
07/30/07 First it was a faux pas, now it's a new word


© 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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