Traditional American School Day Flunks Out

By Marquez, Myriam | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 25, 1994 | Go to article overview

Traditional American School Day Flunks Out


Marquez, Myriam, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Almost 11 years have passed since the "Nation at Risk" report detailed the "mediocrity" of American public schools. Recently, another study was released by a commission of educators, business people and politicians that shows how far behind we are, as compared with other nations, in spending enough time on teaching the basics.

Reports, reports and more reports.

How many more reports do we need before we start acting on our educational deficiencies?

How many more American children will be left behind their peers in developed nations before we improve - throughout the nation, not in just a few "pilot schools" - the core subjects needed to compete in today's global village?

The time American children spend learning English, math, science, history, geography, the arts and foreign languages (if they're even required to learn another language) is woefully inadequate today. We're an extremely industrialized and high-tech nation, and yet most of our schools are still functioning on an agrarian schedule.

The 180-day school year, with summers off, was devised to help farming families who needed every member to work during the summer growing season. Today, most Americans live in cities, and most farmhands have been replaced by machinery or adult migrant workers.

Having children taught each subject for no more than 50 minutes each day may have been fine 100 years ago. But cramming all the knowledge that has been learned since the first nuclear device was exploded into the same old school day is an insult to American know-how. Even so-called year-round schools require students in class for only 180 days.

Some people will argue that if school systems didn't have to teach sex education and teach about drug abuse, child abuse and AIDS - to cite just a few of the topics that kids have to deal with - then schools would be doing swell on the three Rs. …

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