Editorial: Schools need standard for days

Published 9:21 am Friday, April 17, 2009

It seems odd that while the Legislature is willing to spend the time to craft a measure governing what constitutes bullying, there’s no statewide standard determining how many days of instruction kids should receive each school year.

That needs to change.

Current state law says that local school boards are responsible for setting the number of instructional days, but that there must be at least as many as there were during the 1996-97 school year in that district.

Email newsletter signup

In Faribault, that’s the equivalent of 172 instructional days.

In Northfield, it’s 173. Owatonna, 176. Minneapolis, 171. In St. Paul it varies from 169 to 175, depending on the grade level.

Local school administrators say that a few days likely won’t make much of a difference in the quality of a child’s education. But they also acknowledge that more face time with a teacher is always better.

We agree and would take it one step further: Knowing that our children receive the same number of days of instruction each year no matter what district they’re in helps provide at least a measure of consistency in the quality of the education they receive.

In addition, if the state is determining whether districts are making adequate progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and bases that progress in part on test scores, how do they fairly do that when every district spends a different amount of time in the classroom?

Every student in Minnesota should be guaranteed the best education they can get. That should start with every student in the state attending school for the same number of instructional days.

— Faribault Daily News, April 8