Eric Schwarz is a Time to Succeed signatory and the co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, a nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities across the country. In the debate over longer school days, the conversation often turns to the logistics of how teachers will staff the extra hours. On CNN’s School of Thought blog, Eric writes on how Citizen Schools and others, are working on inventive approaches to lengthening the day.
The achievement gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers is almost twice what it was when I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s. About one in four American students, with much higher rates among minority and low-income youth, do not graduate from high school. In the face of persistent achievement andopportunity gaps, the traditional school day is failing our most vulnerable children.
As a result, schools and school districts across the country are looking to add more quality learning time to the school day in an effort to help those students who are falling behind. According to Mike Sabin, former principal of the EdwardsMiddle School in Boston where more learning time helped the school close the achievement gap, “When you’re letting your kids go at 1:30 in the afternoon and they’re not achieving yet, it’s fairly obvious that using the afternoon is something you have to do.”