New Jersey Legislators Propose School Day Extension
Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the academic stagnation and regression it caused, New Jersey legislators are looking to pass a bill extending the school day or the school year. This is all to ensure students catch up and reach the necessary academic level.
The bill is being sponsored by State Senator Shirley Turner. Turner said 20 school districts would be chosen and each funded with up to $1 million. Five districts each would be chosen from New Jersey’s northern, southern and central regions. The other five would be selected based on state testing results, graduation rates, dropout rates, and academic needs. The funding for the plan would come from the American Rescue Plan. The bill would likely come into effect before the 2024-25 school year begins, giving all stakeholders the required time to prepare adequately.
“This bill is in reaction to what we have seen during the COVID pandemic when our students were out of school for more than a year, and we know now that there was severe learning loss and we need to do everything we can to recover that loss,” said Turner. “We have 180 days in a school year, but the students need something beyond the 180 days, and something beyond the five or six hours a day if we’re going to recover their learning loss,” Turner added.
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Rosie Grant, the executive director of the non-profit community-based organization Paterson Education, saw the positives in the plan. “Paterson could certainly benefit from this program. It just does need to be well planned,” Grant said.
Sean Spiller, the President of the New Jersey Education Association, expressed some doubts over how the plan would be implemented citing the inadequacy of staff members. “I think primarily we’ve got to address the fact that in the school days they have right now, they’re missing out on so much instruction because we can’t fill positions with educators. We’ve got to address that need first, or we’re just chasing our tail here,” he said.