Education is key

Ben Shore's picture

Cutting more than $100 million in education funds is a complete joke. Where are we as a city, state, country, people that we still fail to recognize how vital education is? Look at our prisons, 60% of inmates are illiterate who have no skills other than the skills to commit crimes. Work on making government smarter so we don't get to a point where we "have" to cut over $100 million from schools.

LZamora30's picture

It's funny how prisons take

It's funny how prisons take up so much of the tax money of Californians (Dang that Amendment where we can't have cruel and unusual punishment! haha just kidding). There are many pros and cons to releasing prisoners in order to keep the amount of funding down (Currently the governor wants to reduce the amount of money spent on prisons, you can see it here: Personally, I support it because I feel like I see less serious crimes in SF at least once a week, and we would be able to use the tax money that would otherwise be used on prisoners for education and the like.

Still, I wonder if San Francisco as a whole can work together to solve the education budget problem. I feel like if everyone rallied together, we could achieve so much more. Other places in the Bay Area, such as Fremont, have created campaigns to save their students. In just one month, Save Fremont Students ( has made over $500,000 from just door to door donations, rallies around the city, restaurant/organization fund raisers, and through news groups. It's crazy because it was mainly student and parent run - no help from the government at all. If they can do it, San Francisco schools definitely can - especially since the city is larger and is like a political/fund raising mecca. 

carolj's picture

President's porposed longer school days

Do you think longer school days will help our kids become more aware, competitive and effective? Where will the resources come from?

gcotter's picture

Yes: Longer school days and years

Yes, we need longer school days and more of them.  Numerous studies have all concluded that students have longer days and attend school more days per year.  In fact, most teachers agree that the first few weeks of every school year are spent just getting children back to where they were before the summer break.  If it weren't for the cost, I'd like for us to move closer to the South Korea model (see below).

This link had only a few countries but some interesting numbers.  Here are a few examples from this link:   

AUSTRALIA  Students in Australia attend school for 200 days a year.  The typical school day is from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

CHINA  The school year in China typically runs from the beginning of September to mid-July. Summer vacation is generally spent in summer classes or studying for entrance exams. The average school day runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a two-hour lunch break.

FRANCE  The school day in France typically runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a half day on Saturday, although students do not attend school on Wednesday or Sunday. Lunch is a two-hour break for public school students. Students usually attend school from ages 6 to 18

IRAN  Students in Iran go to school for 10 months a year, or about 200 active days, from September to June.

JAPAN  Most Japanese schools run on a trimester schedule. The academic year begins in April and ends the following March, In each classroom, the average number of students is 29 with five or six computers to share between them

MEXICO  The school year in Mexico runs from September to June. Students go to school Monday through Friday, and have elective classes on Saturdays.  In each classroom, there are about 30 students who must share three computers.

SOUTH KOREA  The school year in South Korea typically runs from March to February. The year is divided into two semesters (March to July and September to February). School days are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but many stay later into the evening. In addition, students help clean up their classroom before leaving. Most students remain in the same room while their teachers rotate throughout the day. Each room has about thirty students with ten computers for them to share.  After 5 p.m. students have a short dinner at home, or eat at school, before study sessions or other activities begin in the evening. Students attend school Monday to Friday, with some Saturday classes scattered throughout the year

Wikipedia has many links on education in the US and around the world:


carolj's picture

I agree w/ some...

I remember going to school in the Philippines, there were 50 kids in each class, the teachers rotated from one classroom to the next to minimize 'hanging out time' or dilly-dallying around, and I almost want to say we were there from 8-4, June through March. It was very competitive and getting the top grades were always a priority. I don't recall how the teachers got us motivated, but we were. This was before computers in classrooms, we had to go to the library and look up information! We had classes from History, Math, Science, English, Geography to Home Economics, cooking, P.E., music and arts. By the time I graduated from the 6th grade (no 7th & 8th), I already knew how to do higher math, and my grammar & spelling were better than my American counterparts. I couldn't believe how atrocious people's grammar and spelling was and is! Coming from a 3rd world country, I know what it's like to have to practically sell your soul to get 1/2 the educational opportunities kids here have! But when I look @ it, I know I learned more and was better prepared from k-6 there, than what I (didn't) learn(ed) here. I guess we were programmed to study, focus, and compete more there.

I like the links you attached! Very useful information. Something we should think about here. Then again, 1/2 the battle is still getting impassioned teachers who care and will continue to, the other 1/2 is to get students engaged and families getting involved @ home. The government needs to reset priorities and start funding what  should be an inherent right to the children here, and that is EDUCATION!!! Teacher's need to not just be appreciated, but also rewarded! Students need a haven that will develop, enrich and hone their natural abilities! Let's hope someone realizes this before it's too late!

gcotter's picture

Thanks, CarolJ

Thanks for the feedback.  I always like to look at "How Do Others Do it?" because I think 1/2 the battle is the art of changing direction.  We have summer vacations because "We've always had summer vacations."  Granted it's because we (the now industrialized world) were once agrarian and children were needed in the fields during the summer.  We have short school days for any number of reasons, including the need to stagger school bus routes.  

How do others do it?  Can we learn from them?  I really find the idea of moving the teachers between classrooms a very intriguing alternative.  I wonder if any schools do this.

I completely agree with your comments on English and grammar.  Did you also have to learn the definition of each part of speech? I remember having to memorize rules such as: "an 'antecedent' is the word for which a pronoun stands" and "'adverbs' modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs."  Did you parse sentences?  Sigh.  I remember that in grade school we were drilled again and again in grammar and syntax.

Math, science, history, and geography are important, as are all of the basics, but I would put reading comprehension right up at the top.  Unless a student can read, and comprehend what he has read, he will never succeed in higher grades.  I often wonder how many students become high school dropouts just because they are unable to read their textbooks.  

carolj's picture

School work

Oh the horrors of having to learn every single aspect of English, grammar, pronunciation, punctuation, definition, agreements!!! Yes, we were taught all of that and more! Teachers actually failed students who couldn't pass those "basics", unlike here, students keep getting promoted even if they are are clearly not up to par.  There are some schools in California, 'track schools', where they go "year-round". I'm not sure how it works, but I have friends who have kids in those types of schools. I'll ask and post it in here to see if that's an avenue that can be explored.

Yes, the less people you have to shuffle, the less time kids have to waste, get into trouble and become truants. I guess it helped that we had a closed campus! My daughter goes to a parochial school, and they stay in one place, teachers come in and out (except for P.E.). The principal has a good reign on staff and students! Parents participate in events and are involved in the school and church.  On my end, I supplement what she's learning in class by taking her to KUMON, an educational enrichment program used to supplement what she is learning in school, as well as get her in more advanced work for reading and math. She's in the honor roll there, I'm proud to say (it's an international list of other KUMON students who make it to the top). She's in the 2nd grade now, and is on track to be 2 grades about her current level by 5th grade. She also does ballet and Musical Theater for her own entertainment (that's our deal, my KUMON for her performing arts). She does really well in school, I'm happy to say, due to the fact that her teacher is involved, attentive, strict and caring! If I could find that kind of quality education in a public school, I'd put her in it in a heart beat!

I agree w/ you about comprehension! Unless that's taught and mastered, there's no use going forward. The kids will feel lost and dumb (even though they are clearly not!), disengaging in the process. ALL kids have the ability to learn. WE just need to find teachers who can bring that out of them, and hold families accountable on the home front.

Kate Maeder's picture

Longer school days a must!


Thanks for the great info! I agree. We definitely need longer school days - but the biggest argument against it is paying teacher's salaries. You should look into this program called Citizen Schools. It's a partnership with volunteers, experts and professionals to keep students in the classroom without making teachers work 50+ hr weeks:

bobbyh's picture

Is it really about the time spent in class?

I must say, that South Korean example is a little too intense:

"SOUTH KOREA  The school year in South Korea typically runs from March to February. The year is divided into two semesters (March to July and September to February). School days are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but many stay later into the evening. In addition, students help clean up their classroom before leaving. Most students remain in the same room while their teachers rotate throughout the day. Each room has about thirty students with ten computers for them to share.  After 5 p.m. students have a short dinner at home, or eat at school, before study sessions or other activities begin in the evening. Students attend school Monday to Friday, with some Saturday classes scattered throughout the year."

I don't necessarily believe that more hours in a classroom is the solution to better education, in fact, I think quality is a much more decisive factor in reaching educational goals. The fact is that you could have a child sit in a classroom 24 hours a day (which sounds pretty close to what S. Korea does!) but if the quality of the education is poor, it won't make a difference.  I think more requirements (community service, language, culture, etc.) and more difficult curriculum would do a whole lot more than a few more hours in class.  I also happen to believe that we need to require more out of PARENTS!  Make PT meeting mandatory, give assignments to kids that require their parents involvement, etc.  The more we can get parents engaged, the better off the kids will be.

John Popescu's picture

Education is the key to ?

I am both College and University educated yet I see the same lack of oportunity I would expect of a High School dropout with a particularly nasty disposition and criminal record both lengthy and henious. I daresay amongst the unemployed are those with credentials ranging from vocational training on through graduate degrees and beyond. For all the emphasis we superficially place on education this nation, in this day and age of "globalism" turns right around and invalidates it in the name of cheap labor sourced either through guest worker legislation or sending the job overseas. Given today's economic mess what's the purpose ? To be credentialled and unemployed ?
CheangT's picture

Give us room to achieve outside of school

I do not believe that the school day should be lengthened. Students need time after school to be able to do other activities such as sports and clubs. In addition to these activities, there needs to be time for homework and sleep! What about time to just simply relax? I'm sure we all can identify the need for that.

As a student here in the city, I feel the stresses of school. I am involved in two sports, dragon boat and cross country, and a club called buildOn (learn more at ; it's a great club). Life is pretty stressful these days. I come home everyday after school and practice needing a nap. Post nap, I end up doing homework for a good portion of the night before sleeping a few hours. Balancing school work, extracurriculars and sleep is no easy task. A longer school day would mean that I either have to cut an activity or shorten my sleep length. Part of the reason why I am involved in these sports and clubs is that they can help me get to a good university. Universities, as many of you know, do not just look at your GPA. Lengthening the school day can potentially remove an opportunity to gain an advantage over the tens of thousands of applicants who all have high GPAs to top tier universities. Even if a student decides to go straight into the working world after they finish their high school education, what are they going to put on a resume if all they have to showcase is their GPA?

However, I am not against the school year being lengthened provided that enough holidays are space out in between so that us students can relax a little bit. But I know that many students rely on the summer to obtain temporary internships and jobs which also bolster their college applications and resumes. That should be kept in mind as well.

Phil Ting's picture

School as a Community

We need more education.  We are falling behind other countries in math and science.  They only way to catch up is to improve the education we have or to increase the amount of education.  Schools cater to working parents today.  They are open from 8 to 5 so we must ensure there is good after school programming going.  While kids should be allowed time to play and be kids, its good for after school to provide education to ensure we are doing everything possible to help educate our kids in the 21st century.

John Popescu's picture

Re: Schools as a community.

Phil the argument that there is a lack of Math and Science education is an argument older than I am. 

It dates back to the days when the former Soviet Union launched "Sputnik" !


Remember the dotcom era ? Remember the defense build up during the Reagan Administration ?  Colleges and Universities were overcrowded with kids seeking admissions to courses in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and related cross disciplines.  All of which had prerequisites or corequisites of Math and Science courses. 

Talk to San Francisco State University:   Computer Science was in the top ten majors yet the career center of SFSU will , albeit reluctantly, tell you even in a much better economy than current the placement rate is somewhere at or less than ten percent.


In this day of "globalism" with outsourcing the work to cheaper labor markets or insourcing guest workers there's simply no incentive for kids to pursue an applied or pure science credential.    

I will agree that education is important however what I think is lacking is the utilization of it.  Who wants to spend four or more years of their life, possibly assume massive student debt, chasing a credential that gets them absolutely no further than a High School diploma if even that ?  


Kate Maeder's picture

Live webcast tomorrow

This has been a really great discussion thread. I hope you all will tune in tomorrow at 4:00pm to join the conversation with Phil Ting and Hydra Mendoza, School Board VP and Mayor Gavin Newsom's Education Policy Advisor. You'll get the chance to ask her your questions directly.

Here's the link:

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137