President Barack Obama called for several reforms in the educational system on Monday, including a call for longer school days and years.
The president said that American children attend school nearly a month less per year than children in other developed nations.
Local students and educators have varying opinions on the president's proposal.
Principal Karla Geda of Lincoln-McKinley Primary School agrees with Obama.
“I think we should have longer school years, with more, shorter breaks,” Geda said. “We would have less regression over the summer, and I miss the students.”
And Lincoln-McKinley students miss her too.
Most of the students asked said they would want to go to school longer as well, even if they would most like to spend that time in physical education.
Geda said numerous school systems in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas have already made the change to year-round school and haven’t looked back.
Carol Pleninger, a Havre High School science teacher, is a little more skeptical. She said that there is a benefit to having a break, though the breaks are not really the issue.
“It’s what happens in the time that they’re here, not how long they’re here,” Pleninger said.
Obama said that this is not an issue that can be solved by simply throwing more money at it, that there needs to be significant reforms within the system. The president said that the nation’s spending per student has gone up over the past few decades while results have declined.
Havre High School Assistant Principal Kipp Lewis agrees to an extent, though Lewis thinks there should be more money infused into the educational system.
Lewis said that in the past 15 to 20 years schools have had to take on more of the responsibilities of parents. The demands on teachers and the initial education requirement to become a teacher are not fairly compensated, Lewis said.
“I don’t think that longer school years are a solution to our problem,” Lewis said. “It’s a huge issue. What we need is a complete overhaul.”
Lewis said that the education system was created a hundred years ago and that society just isn’t where it was back then.
“We all just need to step up and do a better job,” Lewis said. “But we can’t do that paying teachers what we do now.”
In Montana, State Super-intendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau shares a similar sentiment.
“It would not be a bad idea, but it would be expensive,” OPI spokeswoman Jessica Rhoades quoted Juneau as saying. “Teachers now work over the summer to make ends meet. So reorganizing the school year would have to take a lot of things like that into consideration.”
Havre Superintendent Andy Carlson said that the local school district is just waiting to see what comes of this.
One group that seems more singularly opposed to the idea are some of the high school students, like sophomore Spencer Morkrid.
“I think that’s bull,” Morkrid said.