Enough is Enough

Recently, President Obama has suggested shortening summer vacations, adding hours to the average school day, and making students go to school on Saturdays. The President’s major focus is to make us American students more competitive with students around the world.

However, extending school time is destined to backfire. Lengthening time spent in school would have a major impact on our daily lives and the lives of our parents and teachers. Although it may not seem like such a big deal, changing the school year would have drastic impacts on many people as well as society. School should not become the only important aspect of our lives, but President Obama’s plan would make it difficult for us to have lives beyond the books. To make this transition successful, new curricula would need to be developed to fill up the extra time spent in school.

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More classes would be required, and the dates of standardized testing for all grades would have to change. The entire school calendar would be altered, from marking periods to regents weeks to days off for holidays. This process would be extremely time consuming, not to mention costly, and would take the focus of the school systems off current issues at hand. Extending school time would also be incredibly expensive. Teachers and school faculty would have to work much longer hours, so the salaries of thousands of workers would have to be increased. Schools would have to provide students with more meals, lights and air-conditioners would be left on for more hours, and more supplies and equipment would be required for increased classes, which would all be costly.

Despite how difficult and expensive it would be to increase the school year, we students would suffer the most. We can all agree that as the warm summer weather approaches, it becomes harder to focus on school. All of us, even the straight A students, reach a time where we need to just take a break from the stress and sleep-deprivation and just relax. We are often overwhelmed by our rigorous schedules, studying for multiple tests a day and doing homework until late at night. Summer is time for students to catch up on sleep and unwind for a while; it is truly necessary for our mental and physical health. Even if we could maintain focused for an extra month each year, the extra time we would spend in school would take away from all other aspects of our life.

A study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that non-working high school students already spend an average of only 4.8 hours a week on socializing, exercise, recreation, religion, and volunteering combined, while they spend 5.6 hours a week on educational actives. If we had even more school, there would be even fewer opportunities for us to take part in extra-curricular activities or volunteer to help our community. In order to be the well-rounded individuals our society needs, time outside of school for learning and experimenting with new hobbies and interests is necessary.

As students, we already spend over 180 days a year, and almost fifty hours a week in school. Increasing this time and cutting down our summers, would be limiting the time we could spend with our families and friends, and devoting to enriching extra-curricular activities, travel, work, and socialization. President Obama also believes that these reforms would lead to safer and healthier kids and teens. However, school would let out later, forcing many of us to walk or take public transportation on cold, dark winter nights and to stay up later to get all our work done, depriving us even more of sleep. Students would also grow to resent school, and be tempted to cut class or drop out all together.

Many still argue that the extension of school time is necessary so that American students can compete with students in other nations. However, we should not be judged against the accomplishments of students in other countries, but rather be encouraged to raise our personal standards. It is true that our education system could use some improvement. However, if we cont change the system and correct what is wrong, extending school time will not serve any meaningful purpose. I’m sure that many of us could be putting more effort into our schoolwork and challenging ourselves more. The way to change this, nevertheless, is not to simply force students to be in school until late at night, on Saturdays, and in the summer.

A closer look needs to be taken as to why we are not measuring up to the levels other students worldwide, so specific issues can be handles instead of making us spend more time in schools that are not living up to their standards.