A good education bill . . . I think


by David Safier

This bill sounds good, and it has lots of bipartisan support. So unless I hear of some devilish details, I'm going to say it's a good thing.

HB2488 gives an extra 8% funding to any school with a D or F rating that wants to increase its school year from 180 to 200 days. A longer school year can be a boost for students, especially low achieving students who can use more school time and enrichment to pick up their social and educational skills. Some research indicates that a 200 day school year can boost achievement if the extra time is used effectively.

The level of increased funding is a possible problem here. Currently schools can get 5% extra by going to 200 days, but not many have taken the deal because it doesn't cover costs. The proposed 8% is an improvement, but that only covers about 14 extra days. To fully fund the extra 20 days would take an extra 11%. Will teachers agree to, say, a 6% salary boost, working longer with a lower per-day salary? Will the district figure out other places to cut funding in their meager budgets to make up the difference?

The bill passed through 3 committees with big bipartisan numbers, then got a 43-14 vote in the House. It looks to me like a step in the right direction.


  1. Yes, we do it. We set aside money to provide summer school, personally invite students who need it, and still end up with students who don’t attend. Generational poverty is a terrible, vicious cycle. On the other hand, we have parents of students who don’t need summer school, and attend regularly. The trump card is parent involvement and motivation. Schools need personnel who can reach out, draw those parents in, and help them deal with the myriad of problems associated with poverty and chaos in the home. Sometimes it’s with a carrot and sometimes it’s with a hammer.

  2. I’m afraid you’re right, Bess. Schools can’t defeat the problems presented by poverty, though educators are duty-bound to try their damndest. But don’t you think the students who attend regularly will benefit from a few more days reading, doing math, maybe taking time to learn about some of the things that aren’t on the test, and talking with their teachers and their classmates?

    To put it another way, if you were working in a D or F school, would you take the 8% extra and run 20 extra days?

  3. Schools with D and F labels have issues complicated by poverty. While I do think that a longer school year is generally a good idea, schools that deal with children in poverty almost always have problems with attendance. Schools in middle class neighborhoods have 95% and up attendance rates. D and F schools struggle to get over 90% attendance. Adding 20 days to the school year, will not help students that have spotty attendance. These are the children that are below grade level, never catch up because of their poor attendance, and end up being the drop outs.
    Until we start dealing with the issues that people in poverty present, we will not fix the achievement gap.

  4. Thanks for the link, Azazello. Our own Robin Hiller is the secretary of the newly formed Network for Public Education, with Diane Ravitch at the helm. This could mean some real progress for progressive education.