Mr. President, don’t interrupt class time

President Obama will speak to students on Sept. 14, which is the second, third or fourth week of school for most students. Don’t interrupt school time, writes Jay Mathews in the Washington Post.

Every study I have seen of how to raise achievement for students, particularly in low-performing urban and rural schools, indicates that two factors are essential — better teachers and more time for them to teach. It is difficult for regular public schools to follow the most effective charter schools in adding two or three hours to the school day, but they could at least use the six and a half hours they have each day as effectively as possible. The president’s choice of speaking time suggests he doesn’t think such efforts are very important.

Unless a class is studying rhetoric or politics or some other relevant topic, watching the speech is a waste of precious time, Mathews writes.

Don’t expect much controversy, writes Neal McCluskey on [email protected] The White House won’t release lesson plans unless they’ve been focus-grouped for complete banality. But the benefits of telling students to work hard and stay in school aren’t worth the down side of an “inevitably politicized, time-grabbing” speech.

About Joanne


  1. This is a non-issue. Taking thirty minutes to watch a speech on the class tv is not going to wreck anyone’s chances at Race to the Top money, destroy their NEAP scores or forever doom their students to the Hell of being forced to read the Washington Post.

    Jay is being disingenuous, trying to make people feel guilty for watching. Yet he would be one of the first to complain that schools aren’t doing enough 45 minutes assemblies to inspire their students or teach them to not be bullies.