Editorial: Education priorities seem out of whack

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 8, 2005

It seems business and state events have a significant influence on when and how long school is in session in this state.

Seems to us our priorities skewed a bit.

The benefits of a longer school year, as proposed by Minnesota’s school superintendents yesterday, would far outweigh its detractions.

The proposal calls for a 200-day school year for students versus the 170- to 175-day range now in effect, and allows for a 230-day teacher work year to accommodate more on-the-job training. As it is now, teachers work about 185 days. The extra days would be phased in over a four-year period.

Resort owners and businesses which frequently rely on student workers want schools to start later to accommodate their months of profit.Teachers take advantage of summer months to return to school to move up the salary ladder a bit quicker.

Of course, there are completely legitimate concerns, such as the additional funding required of a longer school year. The four-year phase in is designed to reduce some of the shock, according to the School Administrators Association, but if one agrees schools remain underfunded, one must also ask how much the change would affect school districts. They simply cannot afford to go further in the hole.

Still, allowing business interests and state events, such as the State Fair, to set the school year length seems so totally out of whack with what residents should want in the long run: A generation of well-educated people with the ability to be globally competitive and who will lead this state into the future.

It will be important as public discussion ensues on this hot-button topic to ask what’s best for student learning; and ultimately this state’s residents?