Monday, January 19, 2009

Snow Day 2.0

Aggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggh! Please tell me we aren't discussing how to make up snow days, again. Please tell me the anti-teacher crowd isn't using the snow day issue to extract a pound of flesh from instructors, again.

With planning and proper application of technology there is no reason for missed days due to snow. Education should not be dependent on one's presence in the classroom. I mean seriously, home school kids learn at home everyday for decades, why can't your kids do it for 3 days every other year? The answer, of course, is that that they can. Unfortunately, we have codified "days in class" as an absolutely essential deliverable from schools. (Pop Quiz: What other state institution uses "time served" as the primary measure of success?)

As a taxpayer and hiring manager, I am far more concerned with student achievement than I am with student attendance. Days in class reinforces an incorrect notation of education as a place-bound, time-constrained process; the academic equivalent of the auto assembly line. In the modern workplace, at least for technology and information workers, what you get done is far more important than when and where you do that work. (In this context, when refers to your working hours, not whether you deliver on time. That still matters a lot.)

Make-up days are sensible if every moment in class is packed with critical information. But are they really? Let's say you have a daughter at Jackson High and class is canceled 3 times in January. That means she'll have 3 more hours of history class in June. What exactly do you think she is going to learn in that 3 hours that will make a difference in her life, career or education? What, did you think teacher was going to forget to mention that the North won the war?

One of the key underlying themes to this blog is that significant reform to the educational system requires participation from those of us outside the process as well those on the inside. If we want to stop the whole snow day thing, then it is going to be up to those of us outside the process to ask our political leaders and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to change the law first. When the law is changed, then and only then, can local school districts and teachers create plans for Learn From Home days; the educational equivalent of Work From Home.

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road of life said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, (it has occurred before) but aren't these the same institutions with resources specifically defined to support home schooling. It would be nice if the educational system reused some of its own material.

or is this a Union thing?

Corey Smith said...

Road of Life,

That's a really good idea. I think school districts do have home school support systems and there are more online school options too.

I believe teacher contracts are tied to the number of days so they would have to address that issue, but the teachers could work from home too.