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Would More School Days Mean Better Education for Missouri Students?

Take a shot at our question of the week.

Gov. Jay Nixon visited Nixa, MO, last week to sing the praises of John Thomas School of Discovery and the Nixa School District’s Early Learning Center. He noted in his visit that Missouri students should be in school longer.

The state's required school year is 174 days—the fourth shortest in the country. Nixon would like to extend the school year to the national average of 180 days. And at the John Thomas school, the year is 194 days.

In a news release, Nixon said students should be in school as long as "their peers in other states."

"My budget for the upcoming fiscal year will include resources to support additional school days," the governor said. "Investing in our public schools is the right thing to do for our kids and our economy."

Nixon's announcement comes in the shadow of what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch describes as a "new rating system for Missouri’s school districts (that) will intensify pressure on low-performing school districts to improve, while exposing even the best schools to new scrutiny from parents and the public."

If the new, more rigorous rating system were imposed today, the newspaper said, it's effect on accreditation for Missouri school districts would mean 31 out of 520 districts would receive "provisional accreditation." That's up from 11 now.

Also last week, Education Week ranked Missouri schools 41st in the nation.

Do you agree with the governor that one path toward improving Missouri schools is a longer school year? What's the downside? Is there a good reason not to?

The Missourian January 15, 2013 at 12:01 AM
But teaching is a *calling.* It's *about the kids.* These teachers expect to get paid as well as I do, what are they, a bunch of pinko commies? All they do is babysit and *teach to a test.* My third grader could do their job. And on and on and on. It's pretty sad that so many people that call themselves "Americans" think this way. What Mike Stevens says is dead on.
CreveCoeurDad January 15, 2013 at 12:16 AM
The success of the Finnish school system is more a product of Finnish culture than it is of Finnish teachers. Finns in this country also do very well in school, and they have our teachers. Drop the Finnish teachers, language barrier aside, in the city of St Louis, and you aren't going to get spectacular results. As Bill McClellan politically incorrectly said a few years ago, take the kids from Ladue and drop them in the city schools - they'd still do pretty well. Take the kids from Soldan and put them in Ladue HS - they'd still be the kids from Soldan.
The Missourian January 15, 2013 at 12:53 AM
Finns weren't systematically deprived of their real estate and didn't have their neighborhoods and meager accumulated wealth destroyed in the name of slum clearance and urban renewal, and they weren't told go live in Pruitt Igoe, and steered by realtors into the slummiest, wooden sewered, non-plumbed parts of the city. Doing that kind of stuff for a century will mess up any group of people. It's a miracle this region has a black middle class at all after that. The STL region created a cultural monster through abysmally bad public policy that effectively made NSL the ghetto it is today.
Mike Stevens January 15, 2013 at 12:34 PM
CreveCoeurDad---if you notice, one of the reasons Finland's schools do so well is that culturally they value teachers and give them the same status as doctors and lawyers. So, you are correct, one reason why they perform well is that their families value teachers. And only taking the Finnish teachers and putting them in St. Louis schools misses the point---that the whole system in Finland is used to promote education, and it's not just the teachers or just the families but all of the pieces. Finnish teachers are the higher achieving graduates, who then are paid well enough to want to go into teaching, a career that they will be greatly respected for, and families know the importance of teachers and therefore support them and provide home supports for the students. Some American teachers, in contrast, are not the highest achieving students who will be paid 1/3 the salary of a doctor, will be told that they don't really work because they have summers off, will be told that their retirement system is a joke, and have public funding of schools frequently challenged, and also have parents who don't believe their child would ever misbehave or not study so the problem must be the teacher, and on and on and on. You cannot take one piece of a puzzle and try to put it into another puzzle to complete it, you must have the whole thing
kim Hampton January 15, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Not neccesarily, The key issue, can the district afford it? Are teachers in favor of it? Will the children have a the tools needed? Bottom line...more does not always mean better!!

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