Instead of working to improve teaching techniques to help public school students better understand their lessons, or offering expanded one-on-one after-school tutoring programs, five states are adding extra school time to each day. This plan was hatched by the Department of Education and is called The Time Collaborative. Originally planned in 2012, this initiative wishes to “redesign” the “mindset” of students, and keep them in classrooms for longer periods of time.
Some 20,000 students across the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee will be experiencing an additional 300 hours in the classroom with longer hours and added days to the school year. When calculating for the standard 180 day school year, this comes to about an extra 90 mins each day. The Time Collaborative will, of course, be funded by federal and state governments and is expected to expand to 40 schools over the next three years.
Within the details of The Time Collaborative is a map to build support from families and the community. This is to “empower” each student through Seven Essential Elements: focusing on school priorities, rigorous academics, differentiated support, frequent data cycles, targeted teacher development, engaging enrichment, and enhanced school culture. What exactly “school culture” or the school’s priorities remain vaguely undefined, but “data cycles” are a curious goal, being that data breaches compromising student information have become common, and “rigorous academics,” aren’t often necessary if class sizes are smaller and students are treated as individuals with different learning styles instead of just numbers within a “data cycle.”
Additionally, “self-guided” content is proposed to “rethink technology,” while administrators and teachers, and other staff are not the only ones who will be taking on “new roles” within the classroom, but “outside partners” are being promoted as a resource to provide quality programming during the school day.” Whether these “outside partners” will be biased political figures, or money-driven corporate moguls selling products to students isn’t noted. Neither is the fact that “self-guided” lessons leave students to their own devices, which could more easily be done in the comforts of their own home, instead of through even longer school days. Despite this, The Time Collaborative somehow wishes to “reduce the number of teacher hours required to expand the school day,” by rethinking staffing. So basically “outside experts” will be brought in to prevent “teacher burnout,” as students are forced to sit in factorized learning institutions for longer and even teach themselves on personal electronic devices.
The Time Collaborative has an initial plan that uses bright colors and simple pictures to encourage educators to embrace it, but there is also much emphasis included on how to properly present this information to ensure that people will accept it. One area specifically suggests “Student-Friendly Language” that displays catchy phrasing that will work like slogans and offers simplistic verbiage which is more appealing and works more like advertising than informative educational content. It goes even further to demand that expanded time is “sacred.”
This cult-like approach to instituting The Time Collaborative is exactly the kind of teaching practice that has turned parents and students away from public education. Marketing longer school days with less teacher instruction as some form of revolutionary education process is likely to be questioned by families, especially being that it will be funded through taxpayer dollars. Many have decried public education as merely government-run child care, and this plan isn’t likely to dissuade this sentiment. Parents may also wonder why this plan has taken so long to go into effect being that it was created a decade ago. Whether it has been updated or not is unclear, but the public education system is under more scrutiny than ever and The Time Collaborative hosts many questionable practices.