Today I would have to agree that I would like to see school-aged children spend more time in the classroom, but the problem here is simply, money.
A few Utah realities: Utah class sizes are the largest in the nation. Utah has a growing population of students with special needs which includes English as a second language.
Utah has two school systems due to the charter school system and not only is the second system taking money from the first, but now charter schools are experiencing significant budget shortfalls also.
And, the recent breakup of Utah's largest school district may rank among the costliest in state history. The cost of this split so far has been $33 million according to reports obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune showing how much was spent dividing the Jordan School District. A protracted legal battle over Jordan's assets accounts for about $3 million. The rest was spent hiring people to run the new Canyons district and relocating Jordan’s central offices, which Canyons inherits.
With the high cost of supporting the above realities one might wonder how can we increase the time a student spends in the public school system and to be absolutely upfront, I do not have the answers, but I do feel that our children could benefit from extended class time, so maybe the first step is to revisit why we have two systems in the first place.
One of the original arguments for allowing a second system of charter schools was to foster classroom education innovation. Unfortunately, most of the educators I spoke with this weekend have agreed that these innovations have not occurred, or have they been utilized or transferred to our current public education system.
Not that I’m knocking your charter school. Having visited several charter schools it is easy for me to note that I have been very impressed by many of these facilities, but for many parents who were frustrated at the current system I see charter schools as a very expensive mechanism for those who simply want to opt out of the current system.
Another question we should revisit is the necessity to continue to duplicate services and administrative cost by splitting school districts. We can choose to work together to keep administrative costs down, and I think most Utah residents can now see that the cost of the new Canyons district, as well as the funding problems its inception has caused can see that a better solution may have been to never have allowed the split in the first place.
Let me also state that nothing has a more permanent impact on a child’s education and their future than parents who are actively involved with their education. A parent who is there, helping mold their child’s learning, will have a greater impact on their child’s future than any increase in their hours at school, or which school or district they attend.