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Voices / A Forum For Community Issues

A Principal's View

January 17, 1998

JULIE HADDEN

Principal, Alhambra High School

We definitely need to lengthen the school year. In comparison to other states and countries, we are falling behind in preparing our students for the outside world. Japan, for instance, has longer school days and a longer school year. We are nowhere near meeting their standards. Although they've adopted a lot of the American teaching strategies, their students have a lot more time to explore than ours, giving them an advantage. Our kids need more time to develop their skills, particularly our English language learners. Many of our kids use our library here until 5 p.m. Many students do want to learn and are willing to stay late and use the resources available to them. We make a tremendous effort in furnishing our kids with up-to-date equipment and we've invested heavily in new books. The demands are great though.

But my major concern is that this plan, like some of the other decisions Wilson has implemented, is lacking in thorough preparation. The 20-to-1 classroom ratio is a perfect example. It has worked well, but the decision was short-sighted, not adequately planned. No facilities were available. You can see those mobile classrooms all over the schools because there was nowhere to put these kids and teachers. They were scrambling for teachers and had to issue many emergency credentials.

More time would help teachers and students if Wilson does not take it from the days teachers prepare but instead adds to them. Or if we're going to ask teachers to come in before the school year begins, they should be compensated.

I have to question where the money for these additional days will come from. You are talking about about eight extra days of salaries, supplies, staff help, library hours. Everything should be well thought out and established before they decide to go ahead with this.

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