Governor Tom Vilsack says it’s time to talk about making the school year longer for students in Iowa’s K-through-12 schools.
“I understand there’s a cost involved in this, but you know there’s a heck of a cost involved in not doing the job or not having the time to do the job,” Vilsack says.
According to the governor, a longer school year would be one way to better prepare Iowa’s students to compete against highly-motivated students in other countries. Vilsack says he’ll lead a discussion to determine how much longer the school year should be, and how much more it would cost. Vilsack says there’d be personnel costs as well as the expense of adding air conditioning to schools.
“Those folks who are running faster behind us, by the time they reach 17 and 18, they will have spent somewhere between 15 and 18 more months in school than our kids,” Vilsack says. Vilsack issued a “call to action” Wednesday afternoon during a speech to the School Administrators of Iowa convention in Des Moines.
“I’m trying to impress upon all of you the enormity of the challenge we face,” Vilsack said. “We truly do have to embrace change. We are not in an agrarian economy anymore. We are not in an industrial economy anymore. We are in an economy that is competitive and global…and our young people have got to be equipped to deal with that.”
Vilsack also suggests it’s time for schools to figure out a common class-time schedule to make it easier to link into the Iowa Communications Network for classes taught by a teacher in another location. He also urged school administrators to do what it takes to ensure high schoolers are taking tougher classes in math and science. Vilsack says Iowa law should force schools to have a teacher librarian and a guidance counselor on staff. Many schools in budget-cutting mode are eliminating those positions. Vilsack’s also renewed his call for more state spending on pre-school and for a state law that would force every school to have an anti-bullying policy.