“’Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today,’ Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press…

Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school.

‘Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here,’ Duncan told the AP. ‘I want to just level the playing field.’”

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“If President Obama wishes to play school superintendent, here’s an issue that will make much more of a difference to the academic performance of America’s schoolchildren: heed the scientific research about teenagers’ sleep patterns and reverse the crazy trend towards an earlier and earlier start of the school day. The adolescent brain is not operating at 7:20 am, much less at the 6 am wakeup call for 7:20 arrival. It’s not enough for the kids to do their homework. They also have to remember to bring it back to school the following day!”

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“Home schooling sneaked up on us, or at least on me — Leslie has been mulling it over far longer. About three years ago, she started to burn out on her low-paid, high-stress job as a political organizer for a lefty nonprofit that was working to end the war in Iraq. At the time, we were in the not-so-unusual New York position of spending her entire income, and then some, on paying a nanny to spend far more waking hours with our children than we did…

As for the ‘why’ question: We’re not ready to surrender our kids, and ourselves, to a 10-month-a-year, all-day institution whose primary goal, at least at this age, seems to be teaching kids how to function within a 10-month-a-year, all-day institution. Our kids are learning plenty — not exactly the same things other kindergarteners learn, I suppose, but plenty. They’re making friends and having fun. They can go to the beach on gorgeous fall afternoons, or hit zoos and museums on crisp winter mornings, when other kids are sitting at desks doing worksheets about the letter B. Hell, I wish I could do it…

The four of us are a pretty tight unit — it’s not us against the world, but us in the world, trying to experience the days as they come.”