Saturday, October 13, 2012

Additional Time for New Jersey schools

An article in the October 7 Trentonian titled “Could A Longer School Day be Coming to Trenton” announced that the Trenton School District is among those in the State receiving grant money to allow for a longer school day for Trenton students. Of course simply lengthening the school day of an already “failing” school will do little to improve learning, but, in the words of Superintendent Duran, “ I would work closely with principals and teachers in order to increase our ability to provide fun, relevant learning environments, while also using this additional time to help teachers plan and work together to create rigorous and challenging learning experiences for all students.”

If this is the case, then this added time has enormous potential. In my mind, this would be an excellent opportunity to have schools partner with the business and non-profit communities to provide meaningful mentoring, internship, and supplemental education in areas that the school typically does not include in their school curriculum. By partnering with outside stakeholders, the high school, for example, could bring in adult role models that could stimulate new areas of critical and creative thinking, while also allowing teachers to use this additional time to collaborate and improve their curriculum, and administrators time to plan ways to create a “culture of learning” in their buildings.

I implore Superintendent Duran to explore this avenue as the District plans and designs its strategy for effectively using the time and space this program envisions.  I personally hope to approach the District with my own ideas for creating a “Center for Business and Entrepreneurship,” a program that will bring professionals into the high school to introduce students to the private and non-profit sectors in a way that will create a greater sense of opportunity and hope for students that presently face a dearth in both. It will be time well spent.

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