Why did we need five extra days of school?


Reena Mathews, Staff Writer

Yesterday, on the first day back from our eleven-day holiday break, students stumbled into school blurry-eyed and irritated, with their bodies shocked by the newly-shortened break.

This is because our lovely state legislatures decided it would be best to add five days to our originally 175-day school year, in an effort to keep up with the rest of the rapidly developing country and world.

Just about every student I know was outraged by the addition to our school year and the abrupt holiday break. But to those who support or are indifferent to the change, students’ indignance may appear overdramatic or misplaced. After all, the average school year in America is 180 days. However, though Michigan’s school year requirement now measures up to the nation’s average, Michigan school days do tend to be longer.

More importantly, what makes policymakers, who have most likely never stepped foot in a classroom, think five extra school days is going to make any difference in the quality of Michigan education?

Let’s just think about a school week for a moment. What does one week of school consist of for the average, hard working high school student? I suppose I can’t speak for others, but for me, it consists of 2-6 quizzes/tests/presentations, 35 hours spent on school grounds, 15 plus hours of homework, sleep deprivation, and boundless stress.

Now, ask an adult, or even a college student, to pinpoint a specific week in their high school career and the lessons that accompanied it? Will you be met with a substantial answer? Most likely, no. That is because five days are insignificant. Five days will not fix the school system. Five days is not the solution. But, 35 extra hours of school is significant for students who are already pushed to their breaking point on a daily basis in our competitive, college admission-obsessed culture.

If the state of Michigan’s schools is such a concern for policymakers, why not do more than carelessly throwing meaningless extra days at students? How about we try to assimilate our classrooms to target the individual? How about we replace common core education with a system that prepares students for their careers and futures? How about we treat teachers, the people who have the most influential job in the future of our economy and world, the way they deserve? How about we transform the cutthroat standards of college admissions so that students actually resemble teenagers rather than mindless robots?  No, the problem is not in the numerical value of our school year. The problem lies in the very root of our system. Five days is a Band-Aid hastily stuck onto a gaping wound– a mere tweak to a far too widespread problem. We need more than that. We, as students and as members of society, deserve more than that.