By Richard Barth | September 26, 2011
Read Richard Barth's essay at NYTimes.com >
Read the entire Room for Debate discussion on more time in schools >
For Us, More Time is Critical
Richard Barth is the chief executive officer of the KIPP Foundation, which oversees a national network of more than 100 KIPP public charter schools in 20 states.
In discussions and debates about longer school days, people commonly assume that extending the day by 90 minutes is all about adding 90 minutes of reading or math instruction. But that's not the case. Additional time not only means providing rigorous academic experiences for the children we serve; it also means offering students time to exercise, explore arts and join athletic teams and clubs.
These are the activities that millions of more affluent families already make available to their children after school. At KIPP, we recognize the importance of these opportunities and want to make sure our students — 85 percent of whom are from low-income families — have access to them. And, in doing that over the past 15 years, we have found that the families and children we serve enthusiastically embrace the opportunities we provide.
Focusing on "more time" should be a critical part of our efforts to give students a well-rounded K-12 education that will prepare them for success in college and beyond. This is especially important given that career opportunities after high school increasingly demand a college degree.
The mission of public education is to open up the doors of opportunity for students. Increasing time in school is one element to ensuring that all children in America have access to the opportunities that open those doors.