Reason senior editor Jacob Sullum, who has a daughter in kindergarten in the Dallas Independent School District, has a big ol' problem with, at the very least, this part of President Barack Obama's speech on education delivered earlier this week:
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That's why I'm calling for us not only to expand effective after-school programs, but to rethink the school day to incorporate more time -- whether during the summer or through expanded-day programs for children who need it. Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas.
Speaking of. So why, exactly, is Sullum so unhappy? Because, he writes, the DISD isn't making good use of the time it already has with its wee ones -- from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., not to mention the (small? reasonable? perfectly acceptable?) amount of homework the kiddos get.
The total for the year, taking vacations into account, is around 1,500 hours, and that's without considering homework. (Yes, they give homework in kindergarten now.) That's more than enough time to learn reading, printing, and numbers. My impression, based on conversations with my daughter, the glimpses I've had of her classroom, and the work she has to make up when she misses school, is that very little of her in-school time is spent actually learning anything.
I should really let my DISD kindergartner post a response, as he is already much smarter than I am be.