The recession is forcing states and local communities to make tough decisions about where to cut spending. Public schools haven't dodged these cuts and now face more choices about how to decrease spending while still providing an effective, free education.
Summer programs have been hit especially hard reports a recent article. Los Angeles schools reduced spending for summer courses from $18 million to only $3 million, while Philadelphia and Milwaukee have all but eliminated them. When school resumes in September, some rural schools will only have 4-day weeks, while others have decided to shorten the academic calender.
These cuts seem particularly detrimental, since the overall consensus of late is that students need more class time. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan posited in his confirmation speech, "Our school day is too short, our school week is too short, our school year is too short." Still some schools' administrators and teachers have taken pay cuts to keep alive programs they believe in, and even increase instruction time in-class. Though many students dread the idea of more time in-class the results seem tangible: a Phoenix area school district recently adopted a 200 day school year (as opposed to the normal 180 days) and saw a 43% increase in reading scores in Grades 5 and 6.
Do you think the academic year should be longer? Will budget cuts and 4-day school weeks disrupt the learning cycle?