Ask children, teachers, and parents about time. They will likely say: “There’s not enough time in a day to do what needs to be done”. There are ways to do something about it. We in Alachua County have been talking about how to reorganize the day to fit in pre school, hands on academic programs, school activities, and after school activities in a semi rational way. We are asking if it is possible, without large influxes of money, to make an 8-5 school day. Could all of these activities happen in one place without driving teachers to distraction?? Our local league will study examples of how this could be done.
Professor David Kirp, University of California, Berkeley, already has some successful examples. In Tulsa, Oklahoma the Union school district has implemented a community-based school program that has defied the demographic odds. School attendance has soared, achievement has risen, and suspensions have plummeted. We need schools like that here.
We have one school, Howard Bishop, that has been identified as a community school. It is just starting in that direction this year, and has not expanded to the full eight hour day. The community social services support, however, are centered not in various offices in town, but in the school. They have a ways to go to catch up with the Union school district, but the Children’s Home Society is helping them.
We all need to help community schools make progress. If nothing else, you can help financially. It is not all about money, though. Oklahoma has lower per student funding than Florida, and this district has found a way to expand the day and still make ends meet. Let’s find out how.
With community support we can begin to dream of a world where the lack of time does not manage us; we manage time! Let’s see if we can make our public schools the envy of the world of choice.