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Phil Potvin's very stupid idea to lengthen school days

by: Eric B.

Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 16:37:26 PM EST

If you have a school age kid, you probably figure out your daily routine early in the school year so that it can be applied all year long. The only real inconvenience is when school gets canceled for something like snow or the first day of deer season or parent-teacher conferences (if you're in the Mount Pleasant School District, you get the added hassle this year of something called "Late Start Wednesdays" so teachers can do training and such). Anyway, my point is that you set up the family routine based on school being a standard period of time during the day.

This year, most of us have exceeded the number of days allowed to be missed for inclement weather and not have to make up the time. Right now, if I had my guess, my kid will be in school until maybe the middle of August before summer vacation starts. Phil Potvin had an even stupider idea to deal with this ... inconvenience everyone in the state and harm eduction so that the state doesn't have to pay for transportation.

Unfortunately, some of our politicians have it wrong: Most notably, State Representative Phil Potvin, a Republican who runs a concrete company in Cadillac. Potvin has sponsored a bill that would allow districts to lengthen school days instead of adding new days.

That’s an idea, as one member of the state board of education told me, is “incredibly stupid.” Here’s why. All of us, but kids especially have a limited attention span.

It’s been a long time since my own public school experience, but I can tell you this: My own education suffered because l was scheduled for Algebra II the last hour of the day.

Lessenberry doesn't quite getting around to what else is at work here, which is that this bill punishes kids who are in extra curricular activities, and participation in extra curricular activities is usually helps kids be more successful in their educations by teaching them things they can't get in the classroom.

Here's how it works: My kid is in an early morning music program. During the fall, he was also playing football. He had practice Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and music Monday and Friday. On Monday, he'd have to get up at 6 to make it to music, then go to school, then get out of that at 4, be to football practice at 5:30 and that ended at 7. Home by 7:30 usually, he'd have an hour and a half to get washed up, eat dinner (because you can't eat a heavy meal before football practice) and get his homework done before he had to go to bed.

Phil Potvin lets school districts tack on an extra hour, not only is the kid more exhausted from being in school longer than normal, but the kid gets more homework to do in an even shorter period of time. And, by the way, football season is over. In the spring, when this will have the most impact, kids will be in baseball season. Any parents out there whose kids play baseball know that this is an even bigger time commitment than football: Football has one game a week, baseball has two and sometimes even three and practice most nights that there aren't games.

Also, keep in mind that what Phil Potvin objects to is not paying for extra bussing, but for a full school year's worth of bussing. They aren't going to school any extra days, and on days when there's no school the busses don't run. The only extra money districts around the state might have to spend is for more expensive summer gasoline. In other words, this isn't just a bad idea from the standpoint of education or people's schedules, there isn't any extra cost to worry about because the busses were going to run on those days, anyway. And, the extra costs are probably evened out by not needing to heat the buildings during extra days in the summer.

Eric B. :: Phil Potvin's very stupid idea to lengthen school days
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Rep Pothole strikes again
In his frantic attempt to position himself as a friend of educators (he will tell you he was one once, so he understands what teachers do) before running for reelection against John Ruggles, who is an educator, Phil Potvin shows exactly how poorly represented the 102nd district has been (he's never met an ALEC bill he didn't like). The logical thing would be to establish a year round school schedule, which would actually help with retention of content.  

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