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1-14-14 Education in Governor Christie's State of the State Message today
Star Ledger - Gov. Christie education proposal: Longer school day, shorter summer break

Star Ledger - Gov. Christie education proposal: Longer school day, shorter summer break

By Jenna Portnoy/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 14, 2014

TRENTON — With his State of the State address today, Gov. Chris Christie will dive into the national debate over whether more class time is better for students.

The Republican governor tried to make education a centerpiece of his first term and will continue the trend into his second term with a call for longer school days and shorter vacations.

"Despite the improvements we are seeing in Newark and Camden, I believe we need to take bigger and broader steps to adjust our approach to K-12 education to address the new competitive world we live in," according to an excerpt from the speech obtained by The Star-Ledger.

"Our school calendar is antiquated both educationally and culturally. Life in 2014 demands something more for our students. It is time to lengthen both the school day and school year in New Jersey."

The speech will provide no details about the plan so it is unclear how much Christie wants to add to the school day, or the 180-day school calendar.

Working with Democrats, Christie enacted tenure reform, merit pay in Newark schools and the Urban Hope Act, which gave private nonprofits the authority to build "renaissance schools" in Newark, Camden and Trenton. Democrats stymied his efforts to pass a voucher plan that would give students in low-performing schools money for tuition in private schools.

"If student achievement is lagging at the exact moment when we need improvement more than ever in order to compete in the world economy, should we not take these steps — every possible step — to boost student achievement?" Christie’s speech will say.

"Of course we should. And one key step is to lengthen the school day and the school year. So, working with (Education) Commissioner Cerf, I will present to you shortly a proposal to increase the length of both the school day and the school year in New Jersey. This is a key step to improve student outcomes, and boost our competitiveness. We should do it now."

Proponents of longer school days say more instruction time for core subjects like math and reading as well as enrichment subjects can improve achievement, particularly for low-income students. Critics say longer school days can place too much burden on teachers, and students need schools with more resources more than more time for instruction.

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s initiative for longer school days faced intense opposition from the city’s teacher’s union and some parents, and eventually became an issue during a district-wide teacher’s strike in 2012. The city implemented a longer day, but also agreed to give teachers additional support.


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608