In a recent Newsweek article by Sehba Ali, a former Houston middle school teacher, she explains how extended school days (both hours in a typical day and days in a typical school year) can help students–if the change is done properly.
To make her case, Ali describes her own experience with KIPP Charter Schools in San Jose, CA. At KIPP schools, children face a class day that lasts from 7:30am to 5pm and go to a three-week summer program each year (she doesn’t mention the occasional Saturday class, but those are standard in the KIPP model). The school that Ali founded has had great success with the approach: “With a student population that’s more than 85 percent low income, Heartwood has ranked in the top 10 percent of all California public schools every year since its inception.”
Is the KIPP model right for everyone? Ali says to look before administrators leap. For instance, she argues, “schools should extend their hours if they have the funding for both academics and extracurriculars. They need to provide time not only for remediation but also for sports, languages, performing-arts groups, and clubs for activities like debating that improve creativity and leadership skills” (Ali). Additionally, teachers must have adequate time to plan and collaborate with each other to avoid burning out.
KIPP started right here in Houston in 1994. Would you want to teach in a program like this?
Photo of a New York KIPP school taken by Leila Hadd; included here under Creative Commons License: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlleleela/2711133829/