Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Longer, later school days: Pro and con

This year's decision to add 45 minutes to elementary school days and put several schools on a later schedule is exhausting young children, cutting into homework and driving parents nuts.

Or  ...  it's a boon to working parents and a blessing to kids who can sleep later in the morning.  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board heard both views Tuesday night.

Six parents gave the board their take on the new "bell schedules;"  four dislike them and two said thanks.

Michael Herndon said the longer day means his first-grade daughter gets out of school at 4:15 p.m.  "burned out,"  because she has more class time without  "a chance to go outside and recharge."  Kym Furney,  a parent at Carmel Middle,  said a 9:15 to 4:15 p.m.  schedule means adolescents have little time for after-school activities and are doing homework at 10 p.m. or later.  Susan Harden,  who has kids at Cotswold Elementary and Randolph Middle,  brought a sign saying she's ready to start  "Occupy CMS."  That's  "kind of a joke,"  she said,  but urged the board:  "Please listen to the voice of parents and change the late bell schedule."

But Meredith Sutton said she just moved her four kids from a charter school to Cotswold,  and they're benefiting from the seven-hour day and the chance to sleep in.  And Tanja Franke said she no longer has to pay for after-school care since her kids are staying until 4:15.  "I thank you for the break,"  she said.

There was no board vote or discussion of school hours.  That's likely to come in late fall or winter,  as officials plan for the 2012-13 year.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

The added 45 minutes is a waste of time. My one son sits for the extra time in one of his classes as there is nothing to do once the lesson is complete.

Anonymous said...

That last comment is telling. That parent obviously is confusing her child's school/teacher with her babysitter.

Anonymous said...

You know what? The time doesn't matter. Those that want to lear are going to learn and those that don't want to learn are going to be disruptive. And the same demographic of "parent" is going to have children that cause the same problems over and over no matter how long the school day is.

Anonymous said...

The added time doesn't make a big difference for my children as far as sleeping in. They attend a magnet school and even though school starts at 9:15, they get on the bus at 7:55 am. Then they do not get home until 6:00 pm. This does intefere with homework and other outside activities. I think this may be great for middle schoolers, but not for elementary.

Scott Babbidge said...

It has been documented that it is in grades 7-12 when we "lose" a lot of kids. So, what did the CMS Board do? They decided to increase the length of the elementary school day. Does anyone think extending the elementary school day is going to help solve the 7-12 problem? (Forget that ANYONE with a lick of knowledge/background in child development will tell you that extending the elementary school day to 7 hours is not developmentally appropriate for 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 year old children...)
One has to wonder who is leading CMS, why they are leading CMS, and what their true intentions are when they do things like extending the elementary school day in order to trumpet savings of $4 million. (Although it's not really $4 million in savings because extending the school day resulted in having to pay assistants more money which brings the transportation "savings" closer to $2.2 - $2.5 million....but no one mentioned that....)
Which leaves one to wonder, are the people leading CMS concerned about student performance, or appealing to fiscal conservatives to get votes in November?
People truly dedicated to improving student performance would have extended the middle and high school school days. OR, rather than spending OVER $1.2 Million on "Summative" tests, would have added 25 teachers with 10 years of teaching experience.
But one really has to wonder when transportation cost savings are more important than child development and student performance.
How about the BOE doing the hard work of, in public, going line by line and expenditure by expenditure through the entire budget and eliminating everything that is wasteful and not working so we can know what is working and fully fund those things. Who has stepped up to bring that kind of transparency to CMS?

Anonymous said...

Has there been an increase in buses arriving late to schools do to the additional 4th run? I am concerned that the "savings" by adding the 4th run is countered with a higher number of students arriving late and missing instructional time. Is that the real reason why 45 minutes was added to the end of the day? If so - that is ridiculous!!!

Scott Babbidge said...

Anon 9:24 I think the real question to ask is, why was the elementary day extended but the high school day was not? I'm not completely opposed to longer school days. I am concerned that the kids least able to handle 7 hours of academics per day are being forced to do that, while those most capable of handling extra instruction time (9-12 grades) are still on the same schedule. Like many people, I'm happy to pay for education, but I want a heck of a lot better ROI than 70% graduation rates and a whole heck of a lot better than 18% of 9th graders failing to earn enough credit to be promoted to 10th grade. If 18% of last year's 9th graders couldn't get to 10th grade on time, there is NO WAY (without lowering standards) that 70% of last year's 9th graders will graduate, let alone graduate on time.....

Anonymous said...

The new schedule is crazy. My kids, 9,7 & 5, get on the bus at 8:05 and get home at 4:15. That's more than 8 hours they are gone. The kids are exhausted, the teachers are exhausetd. It's only 1.5 months into the school year...what's it going to be like after daylight savings time kicks in and it's dark when some elementary kids are getting off the bus?

As for the mom who thanked CMS for giving her a break because she doesn't have to pay for after school care anymore...my husband and I choose for me to be a stay at home mom because we didn't want our kids to have the long days that they now have. I don't believe that there wasn't/isn't another budget item that could be cut instead. CMS has changed my children's quality of life for the worse.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the parents that started an online petition to restore the shorter CMS school day!
http://change.org/petitions/charlotte-mecklenburg-school-board-change-the-elementary-school-bell-schedules

Anonymous said...

show your support and stay updated by joining the facebook page too -
http://www.facebook.com/groups/221448321251673/

Anonymous said...

I would also like to thank the parent for the online petition. My kids are 4 and 6. A PreK and a K. They attend a magnet montessori school that lets out at 4:15. Why on earth does a school that caters to 4 year olds let out so late? These kids are up at 6 AM. I drive them home because the bus would have them home around 5:30. We get home at 5pm. They are usually in bed between 730 and 8. I gave up my career to stay home with my kids, took the financial cut for this. We wanted our kids to spend as little time away from home as possible (no babysitting). Now because of a small monetary savings that creates a lot of hardship for families, I get to spend at most 3 hours a day with my kids!

Anonymous said...

Hummm, Let's see. THE U.S. (yes, contrary to some opinions, Charlotte is part of the U.S.) is getting more and more behind in education as compared to the rest of the 1st world countries--and getting closer and closer to 2nd or 3rd world countries. So the answer is to complain about a longer school day? Get real people. Not only do we need a longer school day, we need a longer school year. Pay the teachers a reasonable human salary for this too. If your children are too tired, then maybe they need a better bedtime. Or maybe less video games or TV. Or perhaps less extracurricular activities. Suck it up and be glad that your children are getting an education.

Anonymous said...

"The added 45 minutes is a waste of time. My one son sits for the extra time in one of his classes as there is nothing to do once the lesson is complete."

Obviously your child doesn't want to do something else. How about taking out a book and start reading?

I find this allegation to lack credibility.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 10:55: You are suggesting that quantity equals quality. Prove it.

@ Anon 10:58: go be a troll somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

People keep repeating this same BS about us being behind other countries in education. Where do you think those statistics come from? They come from those particular countries or from UN people who don't like the United States. Do we need to put our kids in boarding school so they can be there 24 hours a day? Or do we need to look at other things like how much TV and video games kids play, or how little time they spend socializing, learning and playing games outside without some sort of video screen? Maybe those things have an impact too?

As far as competing with other nations, we are losing jobs to other nations and falling behind not because of education but because of our insane corporate tax levels, regulations and our polititians who are bent on exporting all of our jobs and manufacturing overseas. Businesses and jobs flock to places like Singapore and Hong Kong where the business climate is similar to the USA 50 years ago.

Larry said...

I do know that if you want to change things you have to look at success.

http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-16/opinion/feinberg.longer.schoolday_1_kipp-academy-public-charter-schools-kipp-schools?_s=PM:OPINION

And if you want to keep things the way they are then we are already going in the wrong direction.

Wiley Coyote said...

We have the same, lame, clueless Board of Education in place today as we did 40 years ago.

We have the same status quo focus on education in place we've had for 40 years.

Adding 45 minutes or two hours to a school day won't make one bit of difference, nor will the next superintendent.

Here's a quote from then school board chair Joe "Duh" White:

According to Board of Education Chairman Joe White, the school board and CMS are working hard to improve the graduation figures.

"The only thing I can say is we have 19,000 employees and all nine school board members working at that, just as hard as we can with all sorts of innovative programs that are on the cutting edge in the whole country to move that forward," White said. "Yeah, that's one of our goals and we're working very hard at it."

Looking for a way to explain the graduation catastrophe, the official CMS line is the numbers came about as a result of the district doing a better job of tracking the movements of students, as if in years past no one knew how many graduated.


Folks, that was in 2008.

CMS graduation rate in 2008 was 66.6%

CMS graduation rate in 2011, 4 years later, was 74%. That's a 7.4 point increase over 4 years or 1.85 points per year.

At that rate, we can expect to achieve a 100% graduation rate in 14 years or about 2026.

therestofthestory said...

Larry, I whole heartedly agree that this concept in that CNN news article is entirely correct. However KIPP schools are unique. I do not have to tell you that. The problem is CMS students are socially promoted on up and the rubber meets the road in 9th grade. Most of these kids by then could care less. Their family units care even less(er).

Intervention by 4th or 5th grade is absolutely necessary but CMS does not have the political will to make that happen.

So you get what you get and the best we shoould do is separate these kids out so we can save those kids who want it.

This whole deal for longer elementary schoool days was a total fiasco. CMS will not get 50% of those savings if that much. It should not have been done till you had a way to compensate the teachers.

While I agree with Arne Duncan on this once premise that many American students (those that have not reached mimimum standard) need more education contact time, that is only because the family unit has failed them.

Go read about the studies actually done in NC in the book about Dr. Canada. You will fully understand the problem.

What these kids need before K is not that much for a parent. But as we can say, there is no doubt they love these kids, they just do not care for their kids. I hope you get my point.

Scott Babbidge said...

KIPP schools ARE unique.

Kids and parents are REQUIRED to sign an agreement and if they fail to meet the terms of the agreement, they get kicked out.

SHEEEEEEESH, what a concept!!!!! Toe the line straight and narrow (child + parent(s)) or you are gone. I LOVE the KIPP concept, and it does work. But comparing KIPP to a public school is apples and oranges.

For Aaron Pomis to trumpet how he has (and to hear him say it, single handed) closed the achievement gap is a tiny bit politically misleading - because he never tells anyone WHY KIPP gets those results.

Let's kick out all the kids who can't toe the line in the public school and guess what, those results will SKYROCKET.

So, flatly touting charters like KIPP, while they absolutely do some great things and some of those things absolutely should be done in the public schools, is not responsible.

Give basically ANY teacher a class of 12 kids who are there to learn and who toe the line and do the work and I guarantee you the results of those kids will be equal to or better than what KIPP or any other charter school delivers.

That being said, I AM pro charter and pro school choice. But I am even more for fixing the concept that free, no requirements attached, public education is a right. It is NOT, it is a privilege.

But let's face it, CMS is the social engineering, philosophical lab for the Broad Foundation. 18% of 9th grade students failed to earn promotion to 10th grade - and that gets you named the BEST urban school district in the country????

What would that number be if we took the suburban schools out of that equation.........

Anonymous said...

If CMS keeps ignoring suburban parents, we'll all get to see first hand what those numbers look like soon! And that is not a threat, it's a fact. I am a huge public school proponent, but not at the expense of my kids and my family. CMS and the BOE need to open their ears and "put on their listening caps"...the charter school cap has been removed and suburban parents will continue to flee.

Anonymous said...

Why is common sense at such a premium when it comes to CMS? We need more days of school, not longer days at school. Seven hours of instruction for an elementary school child is too long. Adding another week to the school year makes more sense.

Anonymous said...

Let's be real. School is only 6 hours, not 7. If you choose to send your child to a magnet, you should be well aware that the hours are later due to busing in children from around the county. If you don't want your child on the bus for an hour, take them. Your other alternative is go to your neighborhood school which starts earlier and gets out earlier. We all have a choice. If extra curricular activities are more important than the time your child is dismissed, again you have a choice. There are many more families that would gladly like to win the lottery and take your spot at a particular magnet school.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 2:02 -- our "local" school is 7:45 to 2:45. Not sure what elementary school you graduated from but that's a 7 hour day. Same as the magnets.

Anonymous said...

Our CMS elementary school is 8:45-3:45...last time I checked, that was 7 hours, not 6. Add in bus time it's more than another hour. And this is my neighborhood school. I can drop them off in the morning, but picking up in the afternoon doesn't help alot because the pick up line is so long.

Anonymous said...

CMS is not a daycare. Teachers are not babysitters. School hours should be determined for the benefit and good of all children, not for the convenience of the parents and their work schedules. I do not want my child at school for 7 hours so somebody can save $ on a sitter.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me that a 5 year old is expected to be in school for what is equivalent to a full time job. Too young to handle that. Let them be kids. Don't give me this crap that they "need" this extra instruction.

Anonymous said...

Once again we are catering to all the babies mommas and dead beat dads out there who are such failures as parents that CMS feels the need to be the parents for these kids. Its sad that a kid is better off at school then at home. Thanks for making it harder on my family.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:18 -

Anyone who wants to see where we stand internationally needs to learn about the PISA test.

That is where those national rankings come from.

And FWIW, Singapore and Hong Kong students score very well on that test, so education just may have something to do with their success.

Anonymous said...

The disparate comments here highlight the problem with having a gigantic school system.

The truth is some kids/schools need longer days, some need shorter days. We don't need one-size-fits-all school days or anything else for that matter.

Give the principals discretion over the way they set up their schools - salaries, schedules, curriculum and so on. Let each school be a laboratory for what works best. Get away from one size fits all. It will never work optimally.

Anonymous said...

My kids get on the freaking bus when it's dark out, so quit complaining about "precious" getting off the bus at dusk.

Not to mention if you choose to send your child to a magnet school farther away than your neighborhood school quit complaining about how long it takes your child to get home. That's your choice.

therestofthestory said...

4:26 PM, as far as giving principals more flexibility, they are constrained due to various state laws, etc. There has been a proposal in the state legislature with the charter school revisions that would allow CMS to be "done away with" as far as being operators of the schools and let all schools become charter schools. And as Larry likes to point out, the state and CMS-lite would distribute "vouchers" and let the parents decide where they want to apply to get into school. Thus they could then choose the school themselves that would have the flexibility to the education plan that best fits their child. Some community organizers in Charlotte want school 8 to 5, 6 days a week with only a few weeks off in the summer and have the school be the near total parent for the child by providing all 3 meals that day and subsequent child care. That is their view of public schools and education. Thus the conflict we have in this community over public education.

Larry said...

I know that many people are saying that unless we have parents involved nothing will change.

That is why the group http://grandparentsofamericainc.com/
has started and will at JCSU on Saturday holding a sign up event. The website will be updated after our events tomorrow at JCSU. Our media person will get with the media.

We will be at the University over the next two days doing training and the like, but those many volunteers already on board are looking forward to being volunteers to not only the Children but the Parents.

We can do this more so in the Charter setting than the Public setting.

I know people do not fully understand how important it is to provide a positive example where one does not exist in a community and a role model and a good school is a step that will make all the difference.

And finally the longer days are a waste if the time is not filled with say tutoring or flexibility at the very school level or really at the very room level as to the needs of that Student.

As I have said before and will say this is 2011, everything should be on the table to Educate our Children. We need to quit rewarding, celebrating and paying for dismal results. Try alternatives then go back if they do not work.

Larry said...

And I do not want all Charter Schools.

But like any good business our Public Schools would work best with some good competition.

In fact if Public Schools are so egregious the community can have them converted into a Charter School.

Now someone must have assumed that safety net was needed somewhere. I know that in New Orleans the State took over the Schools and now close to 75 percent are Charter Schools and the results are going great.

But then again we are not in that dire a straits..... are we????

Anonymous said...

I was born in China, and I did excel in standardize tests. However, I didn't become more creative or innovative with my thinking until college. US as a country is more innovative than China/India, not because we have higher standardized test scores, but due to our innovative culture. This culture can only be nurtured when the kids have time to think independently. Most adults can't focus more than 7 hours. We all need time to reflect, to absorb the information we learn, and the current schedule is not conducive to learning.

To those suggest that I should read more to my kids. We used to read 45 minutes a night last year, now we read may be 20-30 minutes. The kids are exhausted and can't focus.

For those parents who love the schedule, please keep in mind that school is mainly for the benefit of our children, not a personal baby sitter service.

Susan Plaza said...

Please sign the petition to change the cms elementary school bell schedules. Kids need time to be kids! http://change.org/petitions/charlotte-mecklenburg-school-board-change-the-elementary-school-bell-schedules

Class Time Commodity said...

CMS did not change the bell schedule because of studies showing an increase in elementary test scores. The bell schedule was changed to reduce the number of buses on the road saving millions of dollars. The decision was about money, not children, families or education. The resulting problems caused for families and children were well understood in advance of the Board decision. However, when weighed against the equivalent of saving 60 teachers the Board willingly chose to make this decision and take the heat. Remember, the Board and the community were both being sold the sky is falling scenario when this decision was made. CMS does not have a record of admitting or changing bad decisions. The extra time in school may help those areas where parents cannot help their children study. In areas where parents do help with studying the extended day does cut into quality time.

Anonymous said...

The time change has NOTHING to do with education. It has everything to do with the school end times for busing purposes. Now elem school kids, especially those riding the bus, leave their homes at 7am and some get home after 6pm due to after-school care. Less family time for young ones is a recipe for disaster. And why do many of you assume that the added 45 mins is "educational" time, it is not.

Anonymous said...

Teachers haven't had a pay raise in four years, are forced to work what is equal to an extra 90 min. a day without extra pay- are required to seek out leadership opportunities to enrich student learning or experiences after the school day to ensure quality evaluations, that's right people- teachers are required to stay later than your children- For the lady who is happy that she doesn't need to be responsible for her own child for an extra hour each day- I wonder if you would be so thrilled to pay his/her teacher the extra cash to babysit your wiped out child. Did you know that some teachers in CMS qualify for public assistance because the salaries are a joke compared to other states? So sad.

But the saddest of them all is that people like you are happy to pawn off your responsibility and blame others for any shortcomings they may be experiencing socially or academically.

Well,these children don't have a voice to stand up for themselves-and That is our responsibility! Developmentaly we are slowly killing our students with extra anxiety and stress to help irresponsible adults who have mismanaged our country, state,cities and school systems.
Want to increase the graduation rate, stop the maddness. Many Kids are burnt out and done by the time they are 18 years old.They opt out of one of the greatest experiences- college. We are taking away the joy of learning and true education by trying to fit all students into the same testing mold. True educators understand high quality developmentally appropriate practices and understand the human factor of education rather than the money driven data number crunchers who only see the almighty dollar and their next promotion.
Put the children first, let them be children. Give them time to explore other God given talents that they possess, can celebrate and be proud to share with others. Please, let's get rid of this extra long school day to save our children's spirit and health and Pay teachers what they deserve to be paid so they continue to enjoy what they have been called to do.

Anonymous said...

The 7 hour school day is just too much for younger children having to sit in an upright position for long periods. The founding reason for this is to save on transportation? In having longer days combined with decreased physical activity; many kids seem fatigued and seem to have more colds this year. The instructors seem worn out doing "hard time" rather than facilitating a motivating learning experience (without blame). Going that last 50 minute stretch is a real energy zapper, in addition to reduced daylight exposure. 25 people sitting in one position for nearly 7 hours with few changes in body position or view is monotonous. Granting 4 & 5 year olds the option of an early release would be a great idea.