I must strongly disagree with the arguments presented by Bethany Stevenson (September 20) regarding the advantages of year-round school. Her entire argument is based on the quantity of time spent in the school. Spending more time in the school or eliminating the days off will not solve the problems we are facing.
The quality of the education is what is important, which is why many parents are home schooling these days. My children are currently in public schools, and we force them to do their homework every afternoon BEFORE sports and BEFORE playing. We challenge them on their work, and encourage them to expand their knowledge and skills regarding the subject matter.
Due to the extreme liberal agenda of the National Education Association (NEA), the schools have had to cater to the lowest common denominator. Classrooms are mixed with high achievers and under achievers, and since "nobody should fail", the high achievers are forced to work at the pace of the under achievers.
Schools are graduating kids today who cannot even read on the 3rd grade level just to keep them with their age group or to pass on discipline problems to the next teacher. Teachers are being severely handicapped today in their ability to effectively teach their students, and it is showing. Schools today have become more of a baby-sitting service than an educational vehicle.
I am proud to say that I am a product of the Montgomery County public school system, and when I was in school the teachers were in charge of the classroom. If a student got out of line, they were sent out of the classroom to be disciplined so that the rest of the students could continue with class. There were also developmental level classes and advanced placement classes.
When I got to college, I found out that I was one of a few students who had ever written a thesis paper, and one of a few who had ever taken trigonometry or advanced algebra. Of course, this was nearly 25 years ago, and times have certainly changed since then. I don't even know if they are writing thesis papers in high school anymore.
If you want to improve the overall education of our students and get them back to the level of the students in your example from 1870, then we need to crack down on free passes to students, challenge all students to perform at their highest levels, and give the teachers the tools and the authority to teach properly, which may mean failing those students who refuse to perform. If kids are coddled through school, then they will expect to be coddled when they venture into the real world, and they will soon realize that the world is a tough place to live.