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Hawaii School Year Shortened to Save Jobs
posted by: Colin | October 22, 2009, 01:57 PM   

The Hawaii Department of Education and the Hawaii teachers union and government employees union have reached a deal that keeps the state from laying off teachers for two years during an unprecedented budget crisis. The cost? Hawaii, which already ranks 47th in 8th grade math and reading, is cutting their school year by 17 days. Teachers are taking a corresponding 8% pay cut, but there are no other cuts in benefits, vacation, holidays, or teacher planning days. Did anyone ask the students and parents if this is the right solution?

Of course, the length of a school year isn't the only factor in student success. However, there is certainly a correlation between time on task and student achievement (imagine how much more you can get done with 10 extra minutes each math period or two more weeks of history class). In fact, President Barack Obama has called for longer school days and extended school calendars to help students compete on the global playing field. The Hawaii State Teachers Association, the state affiliate of the National Education Association, appears to disagree.

While the debate may be open on the true benefits of more instructional time (especially compared to other potential reforms) the teachers unions have again revealed that their priority is that the overall number of teachers (i.e., the overall amount of forced union dues) stays untouched, even at the expense of everything else--especially the education of students.

And somebody did ask the students what they thought of the solution, one of whom responded with wisdom beyond his years:

"The 16-year-old in me is pretty excited that I'll be able to chill on those days," said Mark Aoki, a junior at Roosevelt High in Honolulu. "But overall within me, what I truly believe is that we'll regret this."

HT to Jay Greene.

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