NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Will All School And No Play Make Johnny An Even Duller Boy?

January 10, 2001

Politicians and educators are outbidding one another with proposals to extend school hours and do away with summer vacations in order to boost student performances. But implementing the proposals will be costly and would run up against the reality of a growing shortage of teachers.

Then there is the question of whether more hours spent in classrooms would actually benefit test scores. Adding several hours to the school day probably won't make up for uninspired teaching, critics point out.

  • New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani wants Saturday classes and New York Gov. George Pataki proposes that children stay in school until after dark.
  • California Gov. Gray Davis plans to tack 30 days on public schools' academic year.
  • The Century Foundation believes summer vacations are a holdover from an agrarian economy and suggests all-day, all-year schools.
  • American Federation of Teachers President Sandra Feldman has called for a fifth year of high school for struggling students and Education Secretary Richard Riley has suggested making teaching a 12-month job.

But many state legislatures have rejected proposals to add days after considering the bottom line.

The California plan would cost at least $900 million a year to implement in just three grades. Giuliani's proposals to send 45,000 students to weekend science classes and 45,000 new immigrants to English-immersion workshops would eat up an estimated $34 million a year -- for only 8 percent of the city's students.

Gov. Pataki wants to double his $15 million allocation for after-school programs. But that would bring the total number of children served to just 40,000.

Source: Jodi Wilgoren, "Calls for Change in the Scheduling of the School Day," New York Times, January 10, 2001.


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