On the surface, it sounds like a good idea.

A Senate committee has approved a pilot program that would lengthen the school day and school year in districts willing to opt into the program.

The reason I say, on the surface it doesn’t seem like a bad idea is the fact that, in some cases, we lag behind other countries in student achievement.

Hence, on its surface, the idea might have its merits.

The program would be financed in part by giving tax credits to corporations and individuals who donate to the Department of Education to help pay for the program.

The 3-year program would “study the effects of a longer school day and school year on advancing student achievement, enhancing the overall school learning environment and increasing student enrichment opportunities and educational offerings,” according to the legislation.

Increasing the time schools are open would increase costs for the state. The bill offers tax credits to corporations and individuals who donate to the Department of Education to help pay for the program.

Representatives of New Jersey teachers, principals and administrators told the Senate committee they supported studying the effects of a longer school day and year, but they were worried funding for the program would dry up.

Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Warren, said he did not think spending more money on New Jersey schools will necessarily improve their quality.

“By many measures we have the most expensive education system not only in the country but on the face of the earth, and this will add more cost,” Doherty said. “If individuals are concerned about a quality education, perhaps we should think of doing it without adding more cost to the system.”

The non-partisan Office of Legislative Services estimated state revenue would decrease $72 million in the third year of the program – the pilot’s most expensive year – because of the tax credits.

Despite the funding concerns, the bill advanced out of the Senate’s education committee. It next must be approved by the full Senate. A similar bill is also making its way through the Assembly.

I am all for maximizing the time students spend in school, but think it would be better served by a less liberal holiday policy throughout the current school year.

I’ve advocated before
that observing religious holidays should be kept to a minimum…or to those who choose to observe religious holidays that fall on regular school days, they be given an excused absence.

Same would go for the mid fall teacher conference. Why hold it during the school year when that time could be better spent in the classroom?

Would you support a longer school day and year in New Jersey?