School kids in five states will be spending at least 300 more hours learning next school year, as calendars are expanded for certain schools in those states. Education leaders in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee are taking this step because a growing body of research indicates that more time at school improves student achievement, and this is particularly critical for low-income students.
Yet, while these five states are giving students more time to learn and providing the funding to do so, Georgia is giving its students and schools less of both.
By adding time to the school day, more days to the school year or both, teachers can provide more effective learning experiences. They can incorporate more hands-on activities where students act as investigators and develop a deeper understanding of the subjects they are studying. Teachers can spend more time on challenging topics and more time with individual students to ensure that they don’t fall behind. Schools can return art, music and other enrichment classes to the curriculum and offer additional help to struggling students. They can also give teachers more time to work together to deepen their knowledge about the most effective ways to help students learn. All of these things have been linked to improving student learning.
In Georgia, we’re doing the opposite. A decade of budget cuts have led districts across the state to slash the number of days students are in school, according to GBPI’s recent survey of district leaders. District leaders here aren’t able to focus on after-school tutoring programs that provide one-on-one instruction to students or enrichment programs in foreign languages or computer engineering. Instead, they’re forced to spend their time looking for ways to avoid cutting more days from the school year, and their options aren’t great. Many districts are reducing student support services like programs for both struggling and gifted students, eliminating electives and athletics, cutting funds for transportation and technology, or increasing class sizes.
More time in the classroom improves student learning and keeps kids on track to graduate. Georgia’s lawmakers must restore the funds needed to keep schools open at least 180 days each year. And for schools and districts with large numbers of low-income students, they should support additional classroom time. It’s an investment in our kids’ future and in Georgia’s.
2 thoughts on “The Clock is Ticking, and Georgia is Falling Further Behind”
After teaching children in grades 2,3,and 4 in Ohio for six years, I moved to Georgia in 1967. I have been horrified by the education deficits in Georgia schools, of which I became aware especially when my adopted son entered the system in 1987. In the last ten years, the cuts to education in Georgia have become even more detrimental to student success.
I would be glad to pay more taxes to improve our schools, because I value education tremendously. However, children cannot vote, so our Governor and Legislature seem committed to destroying our public education system and tossing the children whose families cannot afford private or “charter” schools into the pit of failure. They are cutting school days,cutting funding for various services, and demanding that our public schools do more with less year after year.
This policy is equivalent to the State of Georgia “eating its seed corn”! These children are our future every bit as much as are the more privileged children whose families can provide them with every possible advantage. Unless they also can benefit from educations that equip them to become productive, tax-paying citizens, they will become drains on our society and the American economy. Not only is that unjust; it is self-destructive to the future of Georgia.
We are faced with an important decision — will we invest in our public schools, or will we force their students to struggle with failure until many of them give up, drop out, and perpetuate inequality due to lack of opportunity? Georgia’s dropout rate already is one of the worst in the nation. Is this the path we want to perpetuate, or are we ready to make educational progress?
Most of the law makers in Georgia spend more time stuffing their own pockets instead of funding public education. It would be intresting to know how how many members of the State House and Senate send their kids to private schools.