This post was co-authored by Evelyn B. Stacey, Education Studies Policy Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in Sacramento, California.
Monday’s Fox News Pundit Pit asked three child prodigies, “Should the U.S. expand the school year since other places around the globe go a lot longer?” Jonathan Krohn, who’s 14, says there’s no guarantee that “if you lengthen the school day everything is going to change, and we are going to perform better.” Go to the head of the class, Jonathan. Among the 32 countries participating in the latest Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. led in teaching hours per public school year – 1,080 – compared with an international average of 803. American schools also spend significantly more than their international counterparts (p. 265). What international achievement leaders do have is more competition-another reform Jonathan recommends. Fully, 70 percent of OECD countries and partners whose students outperformed American 15-year-olds in combined math and science literacy had more schools competing for students, including Communist China and many former Soviet-bloc countries. Another benefit of competition according to Jonathan is getting “the bad teachers out…and good teachers [a] better salary.” Right again. Countries that offer teacher performance pay outperform the U.S. while spending less. “We need to allow people to choose where they go,” says Jonathan, because “if you have school choice, you’re also competing between schools so that the curriculum gets better and better; the bar is raised, the actual status of the tests will be raised, and the actual education of the kids coming out will be raised.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.