President Obama has made his views on teachers and the American education system publicly known–he announced yesterday that not only do bad teachers need to get going, but the school year needs to be extended in order to improve educational outcomes. This basically points to the assumption that our school system is not doing so hot these days, something we wrote about yesterday with the news that the United States is losing its innovative edge due to a lack of investment in math and science education.
Extending the school year may just give America’s kids the extra boost they need to start competing with China and other rising innovation giants. Japan, South Korea, Germany, and New Zealand send their kids to school for 196-197 days per year, compared to 180 days in the United States, and Obama said a month more for U.S. students could make a world of difference. He went further, too, expressing concern that children, especially in poorer areas, may not retain what they have learned when on summer break and thus extending the school year may help maximize learning retention.
It’s clear from recent reports that the U.S. is anxious about its future of innovation and education is one place to ensure global competitiveness. But without investment in quality teachers and comprehensive curricula–and perhaps an extension of the school year–we will be playing catch-up with the rest of the world for a long time.