It's About Time

Why don’t we put our money where our blabbering mouths are? Americans talks a good game about the importance of education, but when budgets are tight education—not the Pentagon—is the first thing to be cut.

From my 20 years lived abroad in countries who do not prioritize the education of their next generation, I’ve seen the result—a Third World country with a First World military, who then proceed to run the country to suit their venal self interests.

In Chicago, the school year is only 170 days. A model based on what my grandfather—a superintendent of schools, teacher and farmer in Arkansas—worked in the 1910s with so much time off from education for the work of the farm. Today this makes as much sense as having Streets & Sanitation assigned to pick up tons of horse manure, so very last century. The model also keeps our economy in the last century too.

On the other hand, economic engines in Europe-where my grandsons are-have only about 6 weeks off in summer and school years of 195 days, each of those days longer than a school day in Chicago.

As Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: the story of success brilliantly theorized, time matters. It takes time and practice, over and over to get better at whatever that time is being spent on. So if education is really a priority, it is time to have year round schools in Chicago to grow a world-class citizenry ready to create the world yet to come.

As for educators who cannot or will not change, talk to the extinct species that didn’t evolve. We study their bones given their absence from our world.

Question:
Dissuade me that teacher unions resist year round schools and longer school days to not cut into their summer holidays--a holiday I have heard from teachers that is inviolate and they consider their right?

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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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