IS THERE A BETTER WAY?
At Beacon Day School (elementary) and Beacon High School in Oakland, California, the school year never really ends. At these private schools, the school day is over ten hours long. There is no set vacation period; parents plan vacations to fit family needs; students work in teams by achievement level, not age; letter grades are unknown in the elementary school; and students spend six to eight hours a week on art, music, dance, drama or martial arts. "There's no summer vacation, so there's extra time to learn, "10-year-old Colin Gage told the Commission.
Leslie Medine, co-director of the schools, described different approaches to the two levels of schooling. Based on students' developmental needs, she testified, Day School students attend school 240 days a year, whereas high school students attend 215. Both schools are open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., 240 days a year, with teachers working on flexible schedules for 210 days. Every six weeks, at least two teachers are on leave throughout the year, their places taken by eight permanent, full-time, substitute teachers known as "flexes."
An Urban Elementary School for the Next Century Meeting Student Needs in the Southwest