Sunday, June 14, 2015

Extended school hours harm children and families

The Omaha Public School board is considering extending the school day by a significant amount of time--20 to 25 minutes per day--keeping the youngest students in school until after 4:00 PM.

It is the position of the Nebraska Family Forum that children do not need to spend even more time sitting at a desk. They need rest, they need play, and most importantly, they need family time. Keeping these kids away from their parents longer, in a forced "learning" environment, will not make them "smarter" and certainly won't make them happier, more productive or more successful young people.  It will also not solve the problem of poverty, which is the single most important factor in the educational achievement gap.  All it will do is make children more tired, more stressed, and more distant from their families.

If the OPS board approves these changes, children who ride a bus could have almost a 10 hour day, longer than an adult work day. And once that 10 hour day is over, there is still homework to be done. This expansion of the school day is not only unnecessary, it's harmful. What about fun activities such as soccer, baseball, or piano lessons? What about religious education? What about time with mom and dad? And what about sleep?

If OPS parents are concerned about this continued encroachment into family time, it is imperative to 1) E-mail each OPS board member and express your concerns and 2) ATTEND THE BOARD MEETING ON MONDAY, JUNE 15 AT  5:30 PM TO SPEAK AGAINST THESE CHANGES. If you don't take this opportunity to make your voice heard, these changes could be passed tomorrow and implemented this August.

If anyone would like assistance with organizing a response from OPS parents, writing a statement to the board, or preparing a short speech, members of the NFF are ready and willing to help. Please send an e-mail to

Brenda Vosik, Director
Nebraska Family Forum


  1. For some families this is true. Unfortunately, for some it is not. For the majority of families in OPS it is best that the kids are in school instead of in their home environment. It's very sad. Some kids are not fed, most of these kids are unsupervised when they get home because there is no father and the mom has to work 2 or 3 jobs. There isn't anyone home to cook for them, clean, watch siblings, get a warm dinner ready, read them bedtime stories or tuck them in bed. For some families this is a better option because their home life is a joke. School is a much safer and more structured place. These kids aren't always sitting at a desk. The longer school day will allow for an extra supervised recess, more PE time, longer lunch times instead of just a 15 minute lunch. For most kids in OPS this is a good thing. An extra 25 minutes added on to a day isn't going to make that much difference in their home and family life. Some students don't want to go home and are happy to come to school because it is a safe warm place to be. In some cases it is a reprieve from the chaotic-drugged-out home life. So for a majority of the children in OPS the longer school day is a good thing.

    1. I am sure that this could be beneficial for families in such situations as you describe. However, I think it would be much more beneficial to the rest of society to design programs to accommodate those needs rather than force every family into the same system. I can not imagine that every family in OPS needs to have longer days at school. What about after-school activities? What about being home (for those who have a home, I guess)?

      Plus, I am pretty sure the Board did not tell the schools to give that extra time to the students in the form of recess and extra lunch minutes. Maybe some kids will get that, but there is no guarantee when it is being dictated to them by a governing board who seems to be interested in more study time and increasing test scores.

      In general, I would be very careful about making blanket statements about how "for a majority of the children in OPS, the longer school day is a good thing."