Major education overhaul proposed - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Major education overhaul proposed

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Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2005 11:26 am | Updated: 8:00 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Gov. Janet Napolitano is going to unveil a plan today that could make summer vacation for students go the way of slide rules and clapping erasers outside the building.

The proposal being announced this morning in Washington seeks a 210-day school year, particularly in school districts with a large percentage of students who perform poorly. That is six weeks longer than the 180 days now required under Arizona law and six weeks longer than the national average.

But that’s not all: The report by a national task force which Napolitano cochairs also wants a longer school day.

It does not specify a length, but refers to a chain of charter schools where students attend from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. — and half a day on Saturday.

Panel members also are recommending full-day kindergarten, something Napolitano already is trying to implement in Arizona. But they also want preschool available for all 3- and 4-yearold children.

The report’s authors acknowledge there is a cost. Just beginning to implement the recommendations would be $325 billion over the next decade.

Arizona voters approved a measure five years ago to extend the school year by just five days, to the current 180. That cost $86.3 million. And providing state-funded fullday kindergarten in Arizona is estimated to cost close to $200 million.

Napolitano said she has "some problems’’ with Arizona students being in school only 180 days. But she wasn’t ready to say that 210 days is the appropriate number.

The governor stressed that if additional classroom time is mandated, it needs to be "time well spent’’ and not just having students sitting at desks for more hours.

The task force was put together by the Institute for America’s Future and the Center for American Progress.

Toby Chaudhuri, who handles media relations for the Institute, described both as "progressive’’ think tanks. But he acknowledged that both tend to lean toward Democratic principles.

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