Writing for the Fordham Institute, Michael Petrilli explains the opportunity we have to explore the benefits of a high school schedule that looks more like a college model. Excerpts from the piece appear below:
While there’s much to rue about what the pandemic has taken away, it’s possible to glimpse a future in which technology liberates high school students—or at least some of them—from the six or seven-hour school day that has been crushing teenage souls for generations. That’s worth celebrating because so much of the school day amounts to wasted time.
Why can’t our high schools look more like college? Does every high school course really need to meet in person, every day, given the technology available to us? What if kids could choose an every-other-day schedule, where they attend class in person on even days and stay home (or work from the school library or computer lab or do an apprenticeship) on odd days? Or they select a morning or afternoon schedule rather than attending all day long?
At least for the upcoming fall semester, moving to Half-Time High will be a necessity. The only way for schools to maintain social distance in crowded buildings is to operate well below capacity. This may mean running two shifts a day, morning and afternoon, or asking kids to show up in person every other day. If we don’t want kids to learn half as much, that means continuing with online learning—and lots more independent study—while at home.
If done right, these disruptions could introduce some long-overdue reforms in the way high school is structured.