Recently the Seattle Times published an article and an editorial piece about a local school whose new principal was now enforcing the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance as required under state law. A series of letters to the editor (herehere and here) ensued and columnist Nicole Brodeur added a thoughtful piece to the debate. It is an interesting discussion on an old topic.

But I write to you, TransformED readers, to ask a question: To what extent are local, state and federal requirements on our school days helping or hindering our abilities as educators to get students to standard?

Emergency drills, Veterans Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day assemblies or videos, Constitution Day lessons, presentations from the nurse, motivational speakers, pep assemblies, taking daily attendance, the Pledge of Allegiance, daily announcements, picture day, Channel 1… all are important (to varying degrees) and all of them subtract time from 1000+ hours we get each year to teach students.

This seems to me like an important dilemma that is rarely discussed – perhaps because it opens a can of worms that we at the building level have little control over. I don’t pretend I have an answer (although I spent several hundred words to find that out) but I think it is a valuable issue to raise as we try to increase the effectiveness of our schools.

So I leave you with a few questions in addition to the one I posed above:

  • What are the best and worst uses of school time that you’ve seen outside of classroom instruction?
  • What local and state required activities do you have?
  • How should go about evaluating which non-classroom instruction activities are with keeping in our schools and which should be revised or abandoned?

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

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