What would your ideal school schedule look like?

Sixteen-thousand southern Minnesota students started school early this week, before Labor Day. Other districts have adopted four-day weeks. And some schools have taken on year-round schedules. Today’s question: Imagine you are a superintendent. What would your ideal school schedule look like?

  • Leslie Hittner

    I would establish a year ’round 45-15 day district-wide school calendar (45 days of classes followed by 15 days of enrichments and corrective activities) similar to that of Longfellow Choice Elementary School in Rochester. I would increase the length of the school day to at least seven hours for all levels except Kindergarten. I would run an “all day everyday” Kindergarten program with a school day of at least six hours.

  • Megan

    8am – 4pm five days a week – School should be year round (5 weeks on two weeks off). With the vast majority of work completed in class.

    After school time and breaks should be free from homework to allow students time to explore other aspects of life: to pursue different avenues of learning, find their passions, and become citizens of the world.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Regardless of the schedule, kids need more time in school than we’re giving them. Then there should be two subjects added to the basic curriculum. Personal finance, so they’re not taken advantage of by predatory “financial services,” and critical thinking, to put the likes of Glenn Beck out of business. I don’t expect this to happen, though. Too many moneyed interests rely on having hordes of uninformed people making bad decisions, and too many ideologues would be threatened by having to actually explain the reasons behind their opinions.

  • Philip

    I like Megan’s posted plan for school. The one thing that bothers me about schools is that so much is scheduled during the time my wife and I are working. Also, if we want to compete with kids in Europe then school should not release for months at a time. 5 weeks on and 2 weeks off would be great.

  • matt

    I think going year round is the key first step in dismantling the current and horribly outdated practice of “Okay lets line up all the 8 year olds regardless of ability and teach them the same amount of math, science, etc. in 9 months and advance them lock-step”. Year round education will allow the actual classes be variable in length to stay with the child as long or as short as needed. If a child is capable of completing two current math grades in 12 months let them, if it takes 18 months to do one that is fine as well. The next step would be to break the current grade/class into smaller pieces – grade 3 math becomes Addition #3, Subtraction #3, problem solving #3, introductory division etc. Again the length of the smaller pieces would not be defined by the calendar but rather by the students mastery.

  • Chris

    I think year round school would be a good start. I would defiantly give the kids and teachers a couple months off total but spread it out over the year. There would be a big cost to this because they would need air conditioning and if teachers are working more we should probably pay them more.

    I would stay with the 5 days per week schedule because that is when the parents are working. We still need the adults to be productive and not staying at home with the children just because the kids don’t have anything to do.

    As for standardized testing and fixing the achievement gap… I have no clue. I wish I did, but I don’t have kids and I have never been a teacher.

  • Jeanne

    I’ve always thought that high school students should start later in the morning. Starting at 7:50 a.m. (that was my daughter’s start time) is brutal for most teenagers and I’ve always wondered how productive they are in their first class of the day. I would opt for a year-round school schedule. I think the lack of learning time and structure during a three month summer vacation does more harm than good. I see part of the problem is children have different developmental needs and learning styles at different ages. I would vary the school day lengths for K, 1st – 3rd, 4th – 6th, middle, and high school; shorter day for younger students and longer day for older students. I know, it could very well be an administrative and logistical nightmare, but trying to make school “one size fits all” doesn’t necessarily make for the best educational experience either.

  • http://www.idealpolicy.com Rose

    For elementary, highschool, university I belive the best arrangement for school terms should include a 1 week break every quarter rather than an extended break for the summer, winter or spring.

    Work schedules should also incorporate this 1 week a quarter schedule.

    Stagger the week each quarter so that there is not every school and work is “out” at the same time. this may cause some “inconvience” for parents; but it ensures there is a “workforce” to cater to the vacationers. When I was raising kids, there were choices and arrangements to be made.

    The other option is NO breaks and we will have a situation like we have today, vacationing ON THE JOB.

  • Max

    I would support year round school, however, keep in mind that you would have to retro fit all the schools with air conditioning. Most schools do not have it. The cost may be prohibitive.

  • Sue de Nim

    I don’t know what the “ideal” would be, but summer break is too long, and the school year is too short. Right now, MN kids go to school less than half of the days in a calendar year. Let’s at least bring the school year up to 183 days (just over half of 365), and spread them out so summer break is much shorter.

  • Chris

    I also support Megan for superintendent!

  • Chris

    I love the idea of school round with mini breaks instead of months off!! I am of a mom of a 19 year old and 9 year old and I see many benefits of ditching the farm based education system! My reasoning is as follows:

    * Teachers spend 1/4 or more of the year reteaching what the students forgot during the summer.

    * There would be more time to focus on the arts.

    * Crime would be reduced because they would not have so much time on their hands.

    * Especially low income families would benefit by being able to work and have better job security.

    * Children who benefit from lunch programs would be fed because they would not be left home alone during the summer.

    * Minnesota has the least amount of school days in the US.

    * Daycare costs would be defrayed to a point. At least for me summertime is hardest on my budget because I have to pay higher daycare bills.

    * More jobs would be created to support the year round school system.

    * For those who argue that teens use the summer to earn money for college, part time paid internships could be set up based on grade average so juniors and seniors would still be able to earn an income.

    Or less school days could be allotted for them so they could work summer jobs like at the state fair.

    * A Montessori system would work well for juniors and seniors and allow early graduation for those who have earned the credits.

    I would also like to see our kids taught in a Montessori type format this allows for the kids who excel to not be limited by grade or the calendar and the kids who are not quite up to speed to be supported by both the staff and their peers. Both of my children are gifted and I had to fight tooth and nail to have them educated at a level that challenges them. In reverse because they have been labeled gifted the areas that they are weak in were not really addressed. The Montessori approach tends to address the whole child instead of whatever age they happen to be.

  • EAL

    One does not need to be a genius to embrace the wisdom of moving away from a agrarian school calendar to a year-round calendar (e.g., 9 weeks on/3 weeks off). Minnesota politicians speak of education being “the” priority across the state, yet do to being gutless or too Minnesota nice, no one has stepped up to challenge the status quo with logic and common sense.

  • Jessica Letcher

    As a homeschooling family, we started last week. We also spent the summer engaged in outdoor learning opportunities. Our calendar, which is flexible to adjust to the kids’ specific needs, is longer than the local district’s by at least four weeks. We will spend next summer having a more formal class time two or three days a week. We have one long break over Christmas and that suits our family’s hectic winter schedule.

    We incorporate daily life into learning and I am happy with the way the children can handle the demands of a household. If school is preparation for real life, I think that kids should be experiencing real life as they learn. They need to be out in the community, socializing with people of all ages, learning skills that will help them succeed in real life, not just on a test.

    I support a year round school year, and also a schedule that is adaptable to individual needs. Apprenticeships and career and college preparation are very important. The current system is failing our kids and it is heartbreaking to watch.

  • Kevin McColl

    I was always a fan how school was taught in Europe and elsewhere when I was in elemtry school.

    Who, guess what, Surpassed us.

    Year round school, with 3 days off during the weekend. I hated the summer were you sat there forgetting all you learned.

    That model of summer off is when were were all hicks and farmers. Sorry, few of us are, and those that are have moved to a more modern set of methods taking less time in the actual farming. We have tractors now….

    And honestly when that was occurring kids were slaves to the need to work on the farm. They are not now.

    I like the little breaks, rather then the one that causes use to waste time RELEARNING what was ignored during summer. Half our teaching time is just that!

  • Julie

    All 3 of my kids are currently in the St. Paul Public School District in a year round school. I couldn’t be happier with their schedule. 5-6 weeks of regular schooling followed by 3 weeks of “intersession”. During intersession they offer 2 weeks of extra-curricular schooling for a nominal fee. The kids love it and so do I.

  • Marie

    I’m not that interested in what school superintendents consider the ideal schedule. That’s the whole problem: the schedule is designed to benefit the tourism industry (of all things), teachers who don’t want to give up summers off, and taxpayers who don’t want to fully fund schools so there’s more days of instruction. How about what would be ideal for students and their families? In that case, it’s hard to argue for the current lengthy summer break and extremely short school year. Some combination of more instructional days and split up vacation time would be more beneficial to student learning, and easier on families too, most of whom have working parents.