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Editorial: We Can Do It!

Driving to work on Monday morning, Sept. 27, we heard a report on the radio that President Barack Obama is interested in the concept of changing the calendar year for schools in the nation.

He commented that other nations in the forefront of education have only one month of vacation time while we have two months.

We are very interested in the concept of changing that since it has its roots in our agrarian beginnings when children were needed to work in the fields during the summer. While personally I do like the concept that children be given some unstructured time to let their own thought process unfold as opposed to spending all their time letting in world knowledge – still we would like to see the education calendar extended another month.

There will probably be some complaints from summer camps for children – but most of them hire teachers who then will be working another month – at presumed higher salaries.

President Obama mentioned that the longer vacation time means children lose the momentum of their studies over the summer – they forget. He said that was especially true in challenged families. While in this area many parents use the vacation time to expand on children’s educational experiences such as travel and camps that offer special kinds of education – still we believe expanding the school year would be an overall benefit. It might even take the pressure off teachers and students.

If it happens, we think the only way it would is for the president to take charge of the decision – probably with something like Race to the Top in which the schools had to meet certain requirements to qualify for the money being offered – such as having charter schools - then the states would vote on whether they want to meet that criteria or not. Whatever – it won’t be easy.

By the way, much of the school staff work the entire year – some with reduced hours. It is the teachers and substitutes who leave after the school year ends in June.

Obviously the issue means dealing with the state teacher’s unions. Still possibly – since we are solving the nation’s crisis – maybe teachers can be paid for their 180 days of teaching spread out over 11 months – with longer small vacation periods.

We think it is interesting that President Obama is looking at the small things that are often overlooked but that can make great changes in our nation.

We hope that President Obama continues looking into education and getting the country back on track to match the other developed countries in the world who at one time had to catch up with us. Now it appears to be the opposite and it is time we all got on board to improve the nation’s educational results. [In Finland magna cum laude students vie for the position of teacher since they are so respected in that country. Finland has the highest literacy in the world.]

Another story in the media this weekend was about the food French children eat in school. It is gourmet fare. They are also educating their palates. Here we seem to use the bottom line as our goal – cheaper is better. Of course Michele Obama is trying to change the foods served in schools. We have a lot to learn – and to catch up with in this country.

But honestly, we think we can do it!