by James Wyatt Whitehead, V
School may be out for the summer, but the report card for the Commonwealth’s public schools is headed for the inbox. It is hoped that progress can be measured and built upon.
School boards face a siege of ailments not likely to be cured overnight. The challenges range from pandemic-era learning loss to chronic absenteeism, falling test scores, teacher retention, bus driver shortages, expanding achievement gaps, crumbling and aged schools, declining student conduct, and a concerned public that desires better outcomes from the billions of dollars spent on schools.
Politicians and education experts have spilled gallons of ink outlining reforms that will correct the failures of public education in Virginia and move our students in the promising direction of success and achievement. Yet none of the reforms have examined an immediate solution that is in plain sight and could be implemented for August 2023; time.
Since there are no caped crusaders who will save the day for the coming school year, school boards, superintendents, principals, teachers, and students are going to have to use the one thing that they do have. The Code of Virginia stipulates 180 instructional days or 990 hours of instructional time. Five-and-a-half hours or 59,400 minutes must occur each day and educators should waste none of this precious commodity. A typical high school class must have 140 hours or 8,400 minutes of instructional time to qualify for a standard credit for graduation. High school credits are measured by seat time thanks to the Carnegie Unit. But this measurement was conceived in 1906 and does not measure knowledge learned. Every school board in Virginia must ask the superintendent if that time was delivered to every teacher.