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The Excalibur

managing Editor • kelsi kitchener

november 12, 2009 • volume 20, Issue 3

Point… Counterpoint

Education faces new reform Caitlin Kemper Editor-in-Chief

It was only last spring in a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, that President Barack Obama initially mentioned his plan to implement a longer school day as well as a longer school year. The basics of the proposed plan call for the average school day to be changed from the standard 6.5 hour day, to an improved nine-hour day, not to mention adding on an extra 20 days of school, making the year close to 200 days long, rather than the typical 180 we have now. Though the idea of cutting summer vacation and adding up to three hours to school each day seems a bit drastic, it might be just what U.S. school children need. For years, the American education system has been coming up short compared to other countries where children are putting in longer and harder hours. In Japan, students spend 243 days in class each year and in South Korea, the average year lasts 220 days. Although the South Korean school year is 23 days shorter than Japan’s, it is still 40 days longer than the United States. Despite the age-old statement that kids need a summer vacation, it is important to remember that not every student is the same. Although some children are exposed to summer camps and classes outside of school, many disadvantaged children are not so lucky. In fact, studies have shown that these students actually fall behind during the summer break.

With longer hours in the classroom, students are concerned that there will be no time for extracurricular activities because homework would eat up any spare free time, but this would not be the case. If students spent more time in the classroom, they would be able to have more in-class work time on assignments, therefore lowering the amount of outside work teachers would christine garrisi photo need to assign to keep up with their lesson plans. Also, the extra hours of in-class instruction could be filled with things like music, labs, sports and arts, something that many schools across the country are severely lacking. Some schools have already started to turn these ideas into a reality. Clarence R. Edwards Middle School in Boston has already taken the initiative to add on three hours to each regular school day and many other schools nationwide are not far behind. Sources:

Brian Grove


Longer school year raises some eyebrows

Managing Editor

For many, the school year is a ninemonth crucible, where students’ minds and bodies are pushed to their limits. For many, the final months of class, including AP review and studying for finals, are the most stressful of the year. The utter joy students experience after finishing the last final is met with the delight of knowing that they have three months to relax and enjoy their vacation before they must go through the gauntlet again. Now, Obama administration education officials have proposed to make the school year longer. The proposal suggests extending the year by a minimum of 20 school days, as well as making the day three hours longer. Aimed at improving the nation’s education, the plan is under serious consideration. This plan, however, has many flaws. EDUCATIONAL REFORM: From the Seniors Caitlin Kemper and Brian Grove standpoint of weigh the effects of longer school days.

students, This would take away from extracurricular activities and athletics (because time for outside activities would be lost). Yes, the United States is far behind in educating its youth, but how far should the government go in increasing its ranks among other powers? Increasing time spent in school would take away from the individuality of each student: an essential American value. Is the country willing to sacrifice the foundations it has been built on just to look better in a worldwide census? From the teacher’s standpoint, where will the money come to pay for the tremendous amount of extra hours that they will be asked to work? In today’s economy, the government has much bigger issues to worry about. Teachers face as much as 15 extra hours of work per week, and will expect the same wages as they receive today with the standard six hours per day. This would also apply to other school jobs; janitors, groundkeepers, and administrators will also be forced to work extra hours with the longer day. Someone will have to pick up the price tag for the extra time. Furthermore, college-bound students would have to adjust to a completely different work schedule that current students are already struggling to get accustomed to. Although the plan in theory sounds positive for the students as well as the future of the country, the nation’s current economic situation will not allow for such a radical change in the education system.

Dress code enforced but profanity goes unnoticed Emily Cecere-Waters Reporter

A girl walks down the hallway wearing a spaghetti strap shirt and a short skirt, yelling profanities across the hallway to her friend. An administrator comes up to her, furious with her unacceptable behavior. Would this be because of the language she has been using? No. Her shoulder is showing, and that is unacceptable. McQueen staff are focused much more on dress code than kids cussing in the hallway or the classroom. Revealing or inappropriate clothing can be considered distracting to the learning of other students and is taken

very seriously at McQueen. Many students are dresscoded every day for even the smallest fray on the bottom of their skirts or tears in their jeans. Teachers need to put this same level of authority on the issue of profanity. Cussing is extremely prevalent in the younger demographic of the United States today. Language reflects the education level of a student, and cussing portrays a negative image to the community when kids use profanity outside of school. Language like this is not appropriate for school. Period. Administrators and staff members should be consistent in policies. If the dress code is going to be strictly enforced, cussing needs to be looked at as just as serious of an issue. Almost all of the kids at McQueen swear or

have used derogatory terms before. At school, these terms can be inferred by some people as rude or degrading and can make students uncomfortable. The atmosphere of a classroom can be changed drastically when a student makes a comment that is upsetting to other students in the room. This causes those students to be distracted from their learning and what the teacher is saying. Administrators need to enforce the cussing policy as they do the dress code policy to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Administrators don’t want teaching interfered with by revealing or inappropriate clothing: why isn’t profanity given the same attention? Profanity can interfere with teaching and cause students to be uncomfortable. Shouldn’t profanity be deemed just as unacceptable?

Thumbs up, Thumbs down

Fall Sport Success

Homecoming Dance

Several members of the fall sport teams did well at regionals and advanced to state. Go Lancers!

Leadership did a great job decorating the small gym. The music was good considering there was no professional DJs this year, but the repeats could have been omitted.

The Fall Play

Locked Doors During Passing

The young cast did a good job pulling off the first mainstage performance of the year.

Although the security issues are understandable, locking so many doors during passing serves as an immense inconvenience to students trying to get to classes on time.


Emily Cecere-Waters The young cast did a good job pulling off the first mainstage performance of the year. Caitlin Kemper Brian Grove Althou...

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