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Talent & education

Back to school. And stay there.

My boss, Bridge editor Derek Melot, doesn’t have children. I get the idea if he did, they’d have run away to grandma’s by now, fleeing their father’s firmly held belief that what ails children is very simple: Not enough schoolin’.

“If you want to get better at something, do you spend less time at it?” he said, when I questioned him once. OK, so he has a point. (Most people know the summer school break is a holdover from our agrarian past, when we needed all the field hands we could get, right?) We’ll find out how effective it is once the 15 Detroit schools swept into the state-run Education Achievement Authority get some mileage behind them. Six Detroit high schools and nine elementary-middle schools will be included in the EAA, and include some of the poorest-performing in the troubled district.

Students in those schools will attend 210 days out of the year, up from the standard 170 in the rest of the state. The Detroit News story linked above explains the year will run from Sept. 4 to Aug. 6, with four quarters and shorter breaks at holidays. And while the first day back to school in the fall is frequently a happy one for summer-exhausted parents, the vote was not cheered at the Tuesday meeting where it was announced, the story said:

Several members of the audience groaned as the list was read. Community activist Helen Moore shouted, “They are jerking these kids around.”

Roy Roberts, who serves as chairman of the authority and emergency manager for DPS, replied: “The state superintendent could close any of these schools. … What we are proposing is how do you get your arms around this and do something special?”

Informational meetings start next week, with open enrollment through mid-April. We’ll see how committed DPS parents are to tough love in the summertime.

2 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. AMF

    I love the idea of extending the school year for the under-performing schools. There is a lot of remedial work to do. The ‘standard’ school days just don’t allow enough time to concentrate on both the required lessons, tutoring, and remedial ‘catch up’. The other factor is engaging the parents to do what is best for their children- I agree with you, we shall see if they are serious when saying ‘I want the best opportunities for my children”…well, here it is.

    1. Panky Panky

      Of course it would be nice to have longer school years, maybe school days too. The trend in Michigan has been in the opposite direction due to funding cuts. One of the ways districts save money is to shorten the school year. If we can solve that problem we might do better. Right now many districts have school years shorter than the theoretical minimum of 180 days. This minimum is ridiculous considering that most other industrialized countries have years longer than 200. We have to be wiling to put our money where our mouth is.

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