A few people have been talking about President Obama's plan for education reform. But what exactly is the plan? Longer school days? Shorter summers? No more weekends? What about a student's personal time?

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan agree that kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school. "Our calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Duncan said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here. I just want to level the playing field."

Compared to students in other countries, the U.S. does have fewer school days, but they actually spend more time in school. U.S. students spend an estimated 1,146 instructional hours in school per year, while students in Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests spend far less time in school. Singapore spends 903 hours in school per year; Taiwan, 1050 hours; Japan, 1005; and Hong Kong, 1013 hours. Some of the Asian countries, though, have school years of 190 to 201 days while the U.S. has a school year of 180 days.

Obama's plan for education reform has not been seen as a good idea by a lot of students, especially here at Whittier. "I don't agree with it," said Senior Jordan Santiago of Culinary Arts. Ricky Foster of CAD agrees. "Kids are overworked as it is, and they have so much pressure to do well and adding more time to school will just add more stress."

"I don't think it would work," says Andrew Plourd of Electronics Robotics.

It is important to note however, that this reform isn't definite. With so much else going on with health care reform and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama's education plan hasn't become a major topic in Congress yet. Even when it does though, this plan affects so many people in America that it would be nearly impossible for Congress to pass this reform. Nothing is official, so don't get worked up about it.

Jacob Kruschwitz is a member of the staff of Technically Speaking, the student newspaper of Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School. This column is reprinted with permission.

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