Sunday, December 16, 2012
Point/Counterpoint: Year-round schools can counter social ills
In our weekly Point/Counterpoint feature, we invite knowledgeable people (usually two) to express their views on a current topic. After reading each other's columns, our guests then write rebuttals on the RoundTable blog, where readers can join in the conversation.
Recent Point/Counterpoint essays
- The current rule is fair, favoring neither side
- Fair trials arise when evidence is available to both sides
- Let's invest in real solutions
From the RoundTable blog
In the past few decades, we have incorporated more strenuous standards into the core curriculum, elevated the level of expectations for students and increased the rigor of evaluation of teachers. While student achievement has increased marginally, the only proven way to have significant gains in student achievement is to increase instructional time. We can extend the day through after-school programs or extend the week by holding school on Saturday, but these are only temporary solutions to a permanent problem.
Extended-year schooling would have positive economic consequences for teachers as well as students. Many teachers have second jobs because they cannot afford to receive an income for only 10 months out of the year. By providing longer contracts for an extended year, not only would teachers receive positive fiscal benefits, they would be contributing more toward retirement.
In Roanoke City Public Schools, more than 71 percent of students receive free or reduced price meals. In addition, 411 students have been identified as homeless this year, which is up more than 25 percent from last year.
These students do not go on summer vacations with their families, for their parents must work multiple jobs to make ends meet. If they go to camps, they are typically subsidized educational opportunities. Older students often work throughout the year, not just summer months. If these students are not attending summer school, many worry about their next meal. Younger students may be left at home alone or with elderly family members who are unable to provide appropriate supervision. Older students who do not have jobs may find other ways to occupy their time, possibly on the streets.
Our students must be provided with the tools to overcome the negative effects of poverty. As we strive to be a model for urban education, making quality educational opportunities available for all students so that they may become productive members of society is our highest priority. Lengthening the school year and providing programs designed to enrich the curriculum will allow us to produce a better-educated citizenry, which benefits all of us in the future.