We wonder what sacrifice columnist Joanna Weiss was referring to in her column about our efforts to expand the school day (“For a longer school day, who sacrifices?” Op-ed, Aug. 18). In the Boston Public Schools we believe our children deserve more time with great teachers. Thanks to Mayor Menino, the state Legislature, and many partners, about a quarter of our public schools have been able to expand their traditional six-hour school days. Just last week we announced plans to add even more.
While families have lots of educational options in Boston, what is not negotiable is that every school must deliver high-quality academics and enrichment experiences for all children, regardless of their level of need or ability. Expanding the school day and investing in teacher professional development are major reasons why students in our turnaround schools, which were among the lowest-performing in the state, are posting great academic gains. Menino and John McDonough, interim superintendent, are asking the state to expand these successful strategies to even more schools.
We know that extending the school day all by itself is of little value unless one also has the power to fundamentally improve the quality of instruction. When both of these steps are taken together, as is our strategy in the Boston Public Schools, amazing things happen.