Letters to the Editor

Student stress

September 30, 2009


To the editor:

I was glad to see Monday’s story on President Obama’s proposed public school reorganization. The previous administration’s education policy was a failure, and it is good to see Mr. Obama taking steps to repair the damage. I especially like the idea of leaving schools open after hours to provide a safe place for students to hang out.

However, I can’t agree with Mr. Obama’s promotion of longer school days and an extended school year. On a whole, America’s children are far too overworked. I am only a few years removed from high school and I remember having friends who would literally stay at school 12 or 13 hours a day, every day, because of marching band, athletics and other school-related organizations. Very few of them thought this was unhealthy and didn’t seem to understand why they were constantly sick and stressed out.

The situation seems even worse now that I am in college. Many students are forced to work nearly full time in order to pay the bills, which means that they don’t even get sufficient rest on the weekends. Furthermore, overstressed students often get sucked into the devastating college drinking culture.

Is this really how we want to teach our children to take care of themselves? I don’t want to seem like I am promoting laziness; on the contrary, I would attribute much of my scholarly success to the fact that I make sure I have enough downtime that I don’t become extremely stressed. Let’s teach our children how to do the same.


penguin 8 years, 8 months ago

The other flaws in the "let's just make the year longer" movement is that it will cost more money, it forgets that summer is usually used for teachers to take classes, and is not comparable to other countries.

You want people to work a teaching job without the break and expect them to take the same salary...think again. Even if it is a modest increase, it will be very costly.

Also the summer is often used by teachers to take classes, so they know even more about the subjects they teach. Universities often design schedules for that group. However, if this occurs expect a lot more money to be doled out for online courses for those looking to move up in pay.

Most annoying of all is the idea that other nations just go to school longer. Is this true? Yes. Does their day reflect the typical American school day? Absolutely not. In many of the countries where the kids go to school 230+ days, they are not in the classroom nearly as much. If I remember right, Norway has kids in school for 4-5 hours during the day and the remaining 3-4 hours is used for teachers to collaborate, design lesson, and plan. The typical American student spends around 8 hours in school each day and if the teacher is lucky they have between 45 minutes and 1 hour and half to plan by themselves.

So for those pushing the agenda that reform needs to happen...back up the truck. It is time to start noticing that differences exist in the educational structure in other countries that do not account for some of the horrible claims we hear about here in America.

Chengdu808 8 years, 8 months ago

A so-called "year round" schedule is wonderful. It is sometimes called a 45/15 plan. That means 45 days of school (nine weeks) followed by 15 days of vacation (3 weeks). Classes begin the last week of July just when the weather gets unbearably hot and the kids are bored. They go until October when everyone gets three weeks off!! Can you argue against a vacation in October? - great weather and no crowds. Classes resume until the regular winter break when they get three more weeks off. Then classes resume until spring break ( 3 weeks off). They finish the year with nine more weeks of school. This gets them out of school at about the same time as we are now finished in late May or early June. School then begins again in late July. We did this and LOVED it!

mr_right_wing 8 years, 8 months ago

Welcome to "real life" Chris!!

I get worked hard every day by my employer, and I don't even get summers off!

If it is too much for these kids, how about this: don't get involved in band or other extra-curricular activities..!?

You are in for a rude awakening if you make it past college graduation.

Did someone along the line lie to you at one point and tell you life is fair? Well...guess what?

das 8 years, 8 months ago

I vehemently call BS....

Elementary teachers have way more "curriculum" and "in-service" days now then when I was in school and the college students have more breaks. There use to be only a Spring Break and no Fall Break. School HAS NOT gotten harder neither in academic content nor expectations by any means. Many of us worked nearly full-time and kept good grades....all at the expense of ridiculous self-imposed social calendars (no regrets here). And as far as activities such as marching band, athletics, etc...those are secondary in purpose to why you should be in school and far from obligatory. You can blame peer and social pressures or the ad industry if you need a scapegoat, but as far as "downtime" - time management is just one more skill that college students and others need to learn somewhere.

Jimo 8 years, 8 months ago

First of all, today's child are stressed? Compared with whom? Pioneer children? Third-world children? Please!

Second, horror stories of overly programmed kids are not an argument against longer school days or extended school years but rather remind us that parents and school administrators need to put a cap on the number of other activities kids take on in addition to their classes. Education comes first, everything else takes a back seat.

Congrats to Pres. Obama for putting forward a return to first principles. No nation can long be richer than the wealth of knowledge acquired by its youth.

labmonkey 8 years, 8 months ago

This letter would have turned less people off without the stab at W's education policies and the overall whining.

I am against year-round schooling for several reasons. First of all, when people deride American education when compared with the rest of the world, they neglect to mention that our colleges and universities are the best in the world...which is where Americans catch up. In other nations, children have to decide what they do for the rest of their lives by the time they are 13. They either get to continue their education, or get put into a votech type program. There is no waiting until you turn 20 to decide what you want to do with your life.

Also, most of us learned about the real world when we had to work summers. That is where we earned money to save up for cars and further schooling. Most of us have fond memories of summer and now Obama wants to take that away as he wants to make the United States more like Europe. Our children's summers are an integral piece of America and Americana, and I question that our president knows what it is to be an American.

Chris Bohling 8 years, 8 months ago

Hi, I'm Chris Bohling. I can only speak from my experience and in my experience most of the high school and college students I know are absurdly over-scheduled and over-stressed to they point that they don't even realize what they're doing. It's a product of the work-absurdly-hard-and-get-yourself-ahead mentality that ultimately just leads all of us to an early grave.

I'm not saying we should all be bums. When I'm not in school I regularly work 50 to 60 hours a week in the "real world." What I'm saying is that most people my age have become so used to over-scheduling that they don't even know when they need to stop for the sake of their own health.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 8 months ago

If schools extend their service to youth (and they should) the same students, teachers and other staff would not be in "class" all the time in an extended school year. A 45-15 could be practical. During the two week breaks, students who are behind could be extra help; students who are ahead of the curve could take vacation or do enrichment activities. Running schools like 19th century factories has little to do with how childrens' brains develop. It is structured for the convenience of the adults who work there and parents. We at least need to have a discussion about how all this is supposed to work and why we are doing what we do.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 8 months ago

Keep 'em in school and out of trouble. My granddaughters in France got out of school just before July 4th and went back when the kids here went back. I don't see the problem with that.

jafs 8 years, 8 months ago

More time in school is not the answer, if we want to improve our educational system.

Focusing on improving the quality, rather than the quantity, of time spent in school is a better idea.

If the goal is to simply prepare young people to accept difficult working conditions without complaint, why educate them at all, mr. right wing?

We could just make them work without pay and treat them badly, then they'd love any job which paid them at all.

labmonkey 8 years, 8 months ago

You are being disingenious to your children when you say keep them in school. How many of us would have wanted to go to school in the summer? Have you forgotten your youth?

Larry Bauerle Jr. 8 years, 8 months ago

I've taught over 25 years. Pay me accordingly and keep the doors open as long as you want and I'll be there doing my job.

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago

The solution would be to increase the quality, rather than the quantity, of time spent in school.

"grand father" should be "grandfather". "to days students are under so much stress today" is incorrect. "I am as far from being an Obama fan" is incorrect.

If you attended school through high school, then our educational system has failed you miserably.

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