This was written for JRN 300 in October 2009.
Around three o’clock, student across the nation breathe a sigh of relief as they head out for the day. However, those that teach them still have, according to one teacher, three to six hours of work left. And, if President Barack Obama’s proposed plan goes into action, teachers could end up working even more.
Obama announced last month that he was looking into extending school hours, but Waverly Community School’s faculty is wary of the change.
Obama want to extend school hours in order to make American students more competitive with European students, he said in an announcement. Some of Waverly’s faculty, however, believe this plan is not economically possible.
Board of Education president John Broughton is against extending school hours because he does not believe the district can afford more hours, especially with the proposed education cuts in the state’s possible new budget.
“Budget wise, we are overwhelmed with the legislature’s unwillingness to fund education as it should be funded,” said Broughton.
Broughton said Waverly has had to cut over $4 million in the past five years and will have to cut even more if the state passes a proposed $220 per pupil budget decrease. These cuts are in addition to the school district having to absorb increased costs from things like teacher retirement funds. He said he is against extending school hours, but would be willing to look into a more European-like school system later on when the budget permits.
Waverly Middle School teacher Cassandra Hailey said teachers already do not get fair pay for the hours they work. She added that she does not know how the district would be able to afford extended school hours on an already tight budget.
“We as teachers don’t get paid a fair wage for the current hours,” said Hailey. “I agree that we need more hours of instruction, but can the school districts afford to extend the hours?”
One Waverly High School teacher said that he already spends over 12 hours a day either in class, grading papers or in meetings. He thinks that Obama cannot extend the school day without increasing pay for already overworked teacher, which he does not see happening.
“President Obama needs to have a classroom teacher advising him on his educational policies,” he said. “There is a reason the surgeon general is actually a physician!”
Both Broughton and Elmwood Elementary School Principal Valerie Hendrickson-Carr agree that extending the school hours will also have a negative impact on after-school activities. If kids spend more time in school then there will be significantly less time for things like sports and clubs.
However, Hendrickson-Carr does support keeping buildings open after hours for students to use. She suggested things like computer classes or intramural sports. School is a safe place for kids to be, as opposed to out on the streets where they could get into trouble, Hendrickson-Carr said.
“For K-4 students, lengthening the day will not necessarily provide time for more academics,” said Hendrickson-Carr. “It could provide time for other opportunities that would help students.”