President Barack Obama’s proposal to extend the academic year further into the summer months has invoked agitation from both, teachers and students who would have to spend more days in school.
According to critics, the president’s call for a prolonged academic year would have some critical consequences. These include higher costs for the school systems, a significant negative impact on the hotel and tourism sectors, and the same for summer camp organizers.
President Obama is of the opinion that the time children spend in schools is much too little, and this is detrimental when it comes to being academically competitive with students in other nations. He has thus recommended that the academic year be extended to increase learning and test scores, and as well reduce any unidentified academic gaps that may be present.
It’s all about money!
Although the President means well and has made his opinion in good interest for students, opponents of this suggestion are adamant that the shortened summer break would have serious implications for schools systems, that would have to have to possibly make infrastructural physical adjustments, bear increased utility costs, as well as pay overtime salary to teachers.
Travel and camps control the summer months.
Additionally, they have expressed concern that the leisure industries, which benefits significantly in financial terms from family vacationers, would suffer a heavy blow. According to Joe McInerney, the president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, “Fewer vacation days will dry up the industry’s labor source and lead to huge losses of revenue for American hotels and resorts.”
Then there are concerns emanating from the summer camp industry as well. For the past 150 years, summer camps have been perceived as a ‘rite of passage’ for America school children. According to the American Camp Association, nearly 12,000 camps are held every year in America, attended by 11.5 million children and adults. According to the association’s financial estimates, the average cost of overnight camps ranges from $400 to $700 a week, and in some cases it can be much higher.
The CEO of the American Camp Association, Page Smith says that camps are not just an escape from school; rather they are vital to a child’s growth and development, and should continue to be organized as an essential agenda item on the president’s annual education plan. “Physical, emotion, and social development provide fertile ground for academic learning,” Page Smith says.
Some previous attempts were not successful.
While President Obama has focused on the idea of elongating the academic year, this is not the first time the debate has surfaced. Many American states have experimented with year round education, and seen mixed results. The Miami-Dade Public Schools in Florida, for example, abolished their initiative of a year round academic year in 2004, because the results were far from significant. Rather, they ended up incurring a higher cost from this initiative in the form of higher teacher fees as well as energy expenses.
Increase in academic time leads to an increase in achievement.
Supporters of the President’s call for expanding the academic year however feel that he is making an appropriate suggestion. The majority of states have a minimum number of 180 school days. According to Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution “increasing time is correlated with raising achievement… The more time that kids have on being instructed on academic subjects, the more likely they’ll score higher.”
The full details of President Obama’s suggestion are being kept on hold and several educators say that they will opine only once a more specific plan is made known.
Where do we go from here?
According to a statement sent to FOXNews.com, the Department of Education in Florida has said, “For some time, longer school hours and or an extended school year has been a heavily debated issue nationally due to the financial implications on individual states. While research shows that students in the United States don’t spend as much time in the classroom as their global counterparts, we’re interested in further elevating this discussion and all discussions that potentially improve our students’ ability to successfully compete internationally.”