First I want to say, what the heck is Eric Cantor doing talking about Common Core? Our state, yes he is my personal house representative, has not adopted the Common Core. As I watched the video Eric Cantor seemed more interested in attacking the federal government’s (agreeably faulty) education agenda that incentivises states’ adoption of the standards, not in discussing what it means to be ready for college. But, lets put that aside.
The premise of this panel is that America is behind in international comparisons especially in college and career readiness. It is easy to say America is behind in international comparisons if you only look at averages. When you compare apples to apples on the Programme for International Student Assessment, ie. (percent of students in poverty compared to countries with similar countries) America is, with its’ poorest children, exceeding the achievement of countries with comparable poverty levels. Check out these graphs below inspired by Linda Darling-Hammond’s analysis of the issue.
This graph shows student acheivement broken down by schools’ percent of poverty.
Now this next graph shows poverty rates in other countries and their average performance on the PISA.
To respond to your point about time I agree that with what you said,
In the midst of the conversation about longer and more school days, we need to remind people who aren’t teachers exactly what we do during the summer. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) sat on stage with former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and current LAUSD superintendent telling the approving audience that we need to extend time for students, especially those with less opportunities to learn.
Your argument that expanded learning time is not necessarily related to increased achievement is heard loud and clear by many teachers. There was a period of time when more time in schools would have made for more learning in classrooms. That time was any time before the invention of the internet. Like 1978.This argument comes back to false ideas about what constitutes knowledge and achievement, learning and education.
Teachers often use the summer to increase their knowledge base, problem solve and reflect on the prior year’s challenges, and to engage with colleagues in rejuvenating professional learning communities. Last summer I spent approximately six of my eight weeks at home engaged in finishing my dissertation, collaborating with the Center for Teaching Quality to design the Collaboratory, and writing about teaching. This year has been a similar schedule with a little more focus on home renovations that have been waiting for me to finish my degree. What we need to consider is the reality of the situation. We need to acknowledge that students learn more when we allow them to access to learning anytime, anywhere, with the support of caring teachers with solid pedagogical expertise. Requiring more seat time for students and teachers does not acknowledge the transformed learning ecology created by the advent of Google and expanded access to the internet. There is already expanded learning time, its just not acknowledged by our accountability system that focuses more on memorization than creative problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Our current system requires time instead of meaningful learning.