I agree that at-risk children need more time in school, but probably not the way that Duncan and Obama think. Lengthening the school day is a recipe for disaster. Teaching in NYC, we have the 37.5-minute “extended day” session for tutoring and test prep, and by the end of that session, the kids in my group are VERY ready to go home. I mean, you figure that they have worked almost a 7-hour day with only a 45-minute break for lunch and recess. That’s almost what an adult is expected to handle in a real job, and these kids are as young as 5 or 6.
Now, if you had summer programs that were not just more school, but were focused on enrichment–athletics, arts, music, nature, as well as some extra help with reading and core subjects–you might have less-resistant kids and it might actually do some good. But I’m not sure it should be compulsory for everyone, if for no other reason than well-heeled parents can afford to pay for those things for their children themselves.
This news makes my heart sink. More quantity, less quality. Already the ratio between prep time and teaching time is out of whack. This will just mean less meaningful, well-prepared teaching, more stultifying book work, work sheets, glorified busy work.
I propose SHORTER school days so that teachers have a real chance to plan great lessons! The increase of quality will more than compensate for the diminution of quantity.