Saved by the bell … eventually

LIHUE — If Hawaii Sen. David Ige has it his way, students will be spending more days in the classroom.

The senator introduced a bill last week that would lengthen the school year for all public schools in Hawaii beginning in the 2015 calendar year. If passed that bill would stretch the current school year from 180 instructional days to 190.

That’s two more weeks hitting the books inside the classroom.

Not too surprising, former and current students had an opinion on the matter.

Jazlyn Rivers, 13, of Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, felt strongly about the proposition.

“I’m not a big fan of school,” said Rivers. “The people at our school don’t really like any of our classes, so I’m sure they wouldn’t like more school days either.”

Ige says he has introduced the bill as part of the legislature’s commitment to improving the public education system and investing in youth.

“It is my hope that a focus on increasing the number of instructional days will provide more flexibility on the school level than the current law allows,” said Ige. “I believe that lengthening the instructional days will assist to increase the performance of students in the classroom.”

The same bill would discontinue the requirements for the minimum number of student instructional hours effective at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

In the National Assessment of Educational Progress testing, surveys place Hawaii students below the national average. But Ige says the reason for the bill is more a matter of helping to keep the instructional minutes within the federal laws.

“I thought it might be easier to look at the number of instructional days instead of the number of minutes,” explained Ige.  

Jackie Souza-Yim, the mother of four Kapaa children agrees with the senator’s proposal.

“If you ask me they don’t get enough school days,” said Souza-Yim.

Guy Thronas also agrees with the proposal to add more school days each year. He graduated from Kapaa High School three years ago and works in the tourism industry today.

“Lengthening the school year should add to student’s education,” he said. “When I was in school we had furlough days on Fridays and I don’t think it helped my education a lot.”

Mike Julik, Lihue, a supervisor at Costco, graduated from high school 15 years ago and thinks lengthening of the school year could create more one-on-one time between teachers and students.

“Kids will probably learn more with the added time,” said Julik. “And if anybody is behind, it will allow them time to catch up.”

Bulaa Hirokane, 14, of Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, spoke out against the legislative proposal saying, “They should enhance the education, rather than making the days longer.”

A handful of other students who were having lunch with Hirokane on Friday agreed, asking for more variety in the curriculum.

For Braven DeCosta, 13, at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, lengthening of the school year would be a waste of time.

“I don’t think it would do any good because kids are just going to play around more and not take school seriously,” DeCosta said.

If passed, the bill to add days could go into effect July 14 for the school year that ends in 2015.


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