Will students benefit from longer school year?

SPOKANE - Right now, most students in the United States go to school for 180 days but President Barack Obama says he wants kids in school for nearly 200 days a year. But is extending the school year possible and will it even help?

Right now schools in the US are in session for 180 days year. In countries like Japan and South Korea their students stay in school for 200 more days a year. On Monday President Obama said he wanted to see a longer school year for American students, which he says is the only way to keep pace with other countries around the world.

The Spokane School District says they see the benefits of having a longer school year.

?Yes our district would like to have more time with our students,? District spokesperson Terren Roloff said. ?More time is something our school board and our administrators are well aware of, the need for more time.?

But there?s a catch: Are you willing to pay for that extra class time?

?In order to expand time we would need more ? state funding,? Roloff said.

It would also mean school employees would get less time off, which means new contracts and more money to pay salaries. Schools would also need more money to stay open, to pay for maintenance and operations, more so than now since the schools would experience a month more of wear and tear each school year.

The other question is perhaps more important: Would a longer school year help? Educator Ron Belisle, who has taught in both Japan and the US, doesn?t think so.

?Well, I don't see how extending the problem is going to solve the problem,? Belisle said, adding that the problems and the solutions are not found at school, long year or short, but at home.

?When you and I were young, we wouldn't eat our food and our parents would say, ?Eat or a kid in Africa will starve? now they ought to be saying ?Study that math or a kid in India or China will have your job in 10 years?,? he said.

Belisle says families that create a culture of learning will have successful students whether the school year is 180 days or 200, and those who don't won't.

?It has to do more with values, societal values, family values, where parents are really working together with their children,? Belisle said.