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Busy Work Leaves Students in School Daze

July 18, 1994



I was thrilled to see the opinion-page article ``Class Time vs. Family Time: The Long and Short of It,'' June 21. Longer school hours are definitely not a solution to our country's educational and social problems. However, the author's reasoning overlooks the effect of poor schooling on students.

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I live in California, where already-suffering schools are rapidly approaching ineffectiveness. The current state of my school is such that even people who enjoy learning are completely disenchanted with the system. I resent being forced to waste six hours of my time, 180 days a year, doing busy work assigned by teachers who don't know their subjects from textbooks that often contain gross inaccuracies. Lengthening school hours would only mean more busy work. The practice of giving students inane assignments to keep them out of trouble is flawed. Teachers might as well just come out and say, ``You are all good-for-nothings who can't be trusted with responsibility and it's my job to keep you in line, so no one goes home until all 35 needles have been recovered from that haystack over there.''

Students become so accustomed to hearing these subtle messages that many accept society's prejudice against teenagers. The little that students learn in school is not ample compensation for the respect they lose. As it is, we could spend all day in school and still be less educated than Japanese and European students. We need to work on improving the quality of our educational system before contemplating making the school day longer. Let's not make more of a bad thing. Kate Collins, LaCanada, Calif.