Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


June 12, 2008

Longer school day: Expanded learning time pros and cons


r More time to cover the curriculum.

"I'm always hearing from teachers that there's not enough time," Superintendent Claudia Bach said. "We really need more time to do the academic things, not just extra curricular."

The extra time allotted with ELT would allow teachers to expand current lessons, introduce special projects, provide new enrichment and have time for more teacher workshops and development, supporters say.

"If you look at the curriculum, you say, 'Oh my gosh, how can a teacher possibly get this done?' ELT will allow us to do so much more, for all our kids," said Brad Heim, a High Plain Elementary parent. "There's always room for improvement, and we have the luxury of being out front and being able to decide how we want to do it."

r Provide students global, 21st century skills.

"Andover's looking at 21st century skills like cultural awareness, communication skills. For Andover, it's making education all it can be ... The big vision is that the world is changing, education is changing, and how can the schools meet the needs of the children and society?" said Lisa Glickstein, grant coordinator for the district. "Kids are doing reading and math that we didn't do at their age.

But Glickstein added, "Parents are justifiably concerned ... We're still figuring out if this grant program is right for Andover."

r State money is growing.

Although ELT grants guarantee money for only one year, school districts can reapply year after year, and preference is given to districts that have ELT programs, Glickstein said.

ELT funding has increased substantially in the three years it's been offered by the state, Heim said. What started as $500,000 has increased to $13 million this year, and Gov. Deval Patrick and Sen. Edward Kennedy are in favor of ELT, he said.

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