Today, the Washington Post's Emma Brown has a terribly sad article describing efforts by the Washington Teachers' Union to block attempts by DCPS Chancellor Henderson to bring a longer school day to 42 of her schools. The reporter states that an extended school day has been shown to mostly result in higher standardized test scores in the eight facilities were it has already been tried.
The union has told its members to vote "no" on a ballot that must take place among teachers at a school before increased time in the classroom for kids can go forward at that site. The head of the union, Elizabeth Davis, is insisting that an extended school day must be part of the negotiations over a new teachers' contract. Ms. Brown indicates that the previous contract expired in 2012 and that a new one is no where close to being agreed upon.
It should now be abundantly clear to everyone that is watching this story unfold the reason Ms. Henderson has floated the idea that she be allowed to charter her own schools. Charters have complete control over the length of the school day and year. This type of autonomy is crucially important. As I pointed out in a previous column:
"District public charter schools’ on time high-school graduation rate is 21 percentage points higher than the D.C. public schools’ average. D.C. charter students also outperform their DCPS peers on the city’s standardized math and reading tests in all Wards except Ward 3, where there are no charters. Charters’ superior academic performance is even more pronounced in wards seven and eight, where charter students score on average 19 percentage points higher in reading and 25 points higher in math on D.C.’s standardized test."
Ms. Brown goes on to explain that 16 traditional schools will implement some portion of a longer school day utilizing those teachers who have volunteered to work longer hours. These individuals are heroes for our children and shine a bright light on the fact that the teachers' union is all about the needs of adults instead of the kids.