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EDITORIAL: Longer school days needed

York Dispatch
YorkDispatch

For all the drama surrounding the York City School District — the attempted state takeover and charter conversion plan, for instance — the most recent idea to improve academic achievement is remarkably simple:

What if the staff were to spend more time teaching students?

A new teachers' contract approved this week adds an additional hour of instruction to the school day starting in the fall — time that will be devoted to math, language arts and writing instruction, Superintendent Eric Holmes said.

The move will help improve test scores, he said, calling the agreement "unprecedented" in Pennsylvania.

We call it low-hanging fruit.

In fact, if it's all about the students' education — and not, say, salaries and benefits, business deals or power grabs — additional instruction time should have been added years ago.

When a student isn't grasping the material, don't they usually receive extra instruction either before or after the normal school day?

Then if almost all of the students need extra attention, it kind of makes sense to lengthen the normal school day.

We wholeheartedly support longer school days for York City students; we just don't think the move deserves the big group hug Holmes seems to think it does.

"The teachers have made a commitment through this decision to make bold and transformative change in this school district," the superintendent said. "And that needs to be recognized."

Noted.

We also note that less than a year ago, the school board and administration came this close to forfeiting control of the district, and all of the teachers were a court decision away from unemployment.

Still, kudos to them for finally agreeing to a change that was so obviously needed.

We look forward to hearing about the other elements of the district's bold and transformative plan.