So, when will I see my kids? That's the question that immediately popped into my brain as I read Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's 6 point education plan which was unveiled as part of his State of the State Address today in Columbus. Besides the fact that the plan was short on specifics on how he would fix the school funding problem in Ohio, Strickland proposed that Ohio begin: "Phasing in 20 additional days to the school calendar each year over a 10-year period, bringing the state's school year up to the international average of 200 days and lengthening the school day with additional activities, such as community service, tutoring and health and wellness programs."
So let me see now, besides the fact that most schools are having a really tough time passing their levies and keep their school budgets in the black, schools should now stay open an additional month and for longer hours each day. Well, I'm no accountant but that sounds like an extra financial burden on schools that can barely keep up now. Will Ohio really have the cash to back this all up or will this be an unfunded mandate?
The extra month in school and extra hours in the school day would also be a burden on many families. You see, call us strange, but my wife and I cherish the time we have with our young children. I really don't want the state mandating that they be stuck an additional month in school and for more hours in the day. Most parents keep their children busy with after school extra-curricular activities as is. Kids also need their summer break to re-energize and to...be a kid. Families often use the time in the summer to go on vacation and do things as a family. An extra month in school? Kids will be in school until after the Fourth of July? Heck, why stop there? Why not keep kids in school all year round? Having a one month summer break is about the same thing.
A state-funded, voluntary summer school, especially for those kids that are struggling, would be great. State-funded, voluntary extra-curricular activities for kids, especially for those latch-key kids that need a place to go until a parent gets home from work, would be great. But mandating any of this is a mistake in my opinion.