Washington: A top education official in Obama Administration on Thursday said that the American students are at a competitive disadvantage with those from India and China, who spend more time in schools.
"Our students today are competing against children in India and China. Those students are going to school 25 to 30 percent longer than we are. Our students, I think, are at a competitive disadvantage. I think we're doing them a disservice," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at a Congressional hearing.
"I fundamentally think our day is way too short. I think our week is way too short. I think our year is way too short," Duncan said responding to a question during his testimony before House Education and Labour Committee. "I want our children to compete on level playing field with children from India and China," he said.
Duncan argued that the students in the US should devote more time in their schools. "We saw it all the time in Chicago what we call summer reading loss. If you get children to a certain point by June, when they come back in September, they're further behind than when they left in June. It's absolutely crazy," he said.
"We've got to open up our schools and think very, very differently. So time is a huge equaliser particularly for children coming from disadvantaged families and communities. We have to be much more creative in how we lengthen the day, the week and the year," the Education Secretary said.
Referring to Obama's plan for American education, he said it is a comprehensive plan that meets the educational needs of our youngest citizens from cradle to career. "If we are going to be successful in building our economy, our early- childhood programmes need to prepare our youngest children for kindergarten so they are ready to start reading and learning," he said.
"Our K-12 schools need to make sure our students have all the academic knowledge and skills they need to enter college or the workforce. Our higher education system needs to offer whatever advanced learning students need to be successful in a career, whether they will become a plumber, a teacher or a business executive," he said.
"As federal policy makers, we need to improve preparation for college and expand college access and completion by increasing financial aid so that students of all income levels can pay for college without taking on a mountain of debt,"