Longer School Days

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The evidence keeps mounting that America is no longer a leader when it comes to educating its children. The perilous situation is exposed with each new report on the data. The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows little improvement over the decades. The black-white achievement gap is as wide as ever. SAT scores are declining. I am convinced that one of the reasons is that the school day and year are too short. Without additional time, it is virtually impossible for students behind grade level -- particularly poor and minority students -- to catch up. Longer school days can lead to fewer crimes committed by young people and a decline in teen pregnancy. An extended school day gives administrators the ability to ensure children get a well-rounded education. Many schools today are sacrificing social studies, the arts and physical education so children can cover basic subjects like math, English and science. This is hurting children across America, depriving them of the chance to find discipline and self-expression through the arts; and we should be ashamed to cut physical education while our children face an obesity epidemic. Extending the school day would also help families. In two-parent households, women have increasingly entered the workplace, and in single-parent households, there is even more of a need for the adults to work. That means parents do not fully control their own schedule and have to scramble to find high-quality after-school options. What happens when children are not engaged in enriching activities is well-documented: crimes committed by youth in the hours immediately after school soar, as do teen pregnancies. These hours can either provide an opportunity for children to grow or to get bored and drift into self-destructive behavior. Meanwhile, our global competitors are keeping students in school longer, giving them a

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