Should all students, regardless of their circumstances, be in school longer? And if so, does this mean we simply require all students to be in their seats for longer?

A few weeks back in the Washington Post article, “In Alexandria, fight over additional time mirrors national debate,” staff writer Nick Anderson chronicles the desire of Alexandria’s superintendent, Morton Sherman, to extend time in school, as well as that his proposals are meeting with resistance from community members as well as budget realities.

On average, the fact that students need more time for learning has been chronicled. Read my blog on the topic here.

But Superintendent Sherman’s proposal to get this done is a non-starter. Not only would it take resources that most school districts don’t have anymore, it’s also a one-size-fits-all solution that in many cases might not be so positive for many students.

Not all students need more time in class; many benefit from the extracurricular activities and opportunities they have access to outside of school. A one-size-fits-all solution like the one proposed penalizes them and may further stifle their creativity. For those who don’t have these options or who need more learning time, more school (with effective time spent for learning) often makes complete sense.

So how to accommodate these differences? Sherman should look to online learning to solve these problems. With online learning, there is no need to mandate that all students have extra time learning. With its inherent flexibility, he only need make it an option for those individuals who need the extra time—whenever that might be.

And the use of online learning and its flexibility can be far more affordable than his proposals on the table to extend learning time—just check out the Alliance for Excellent Education’s great report here, and Cathy Cavanaugh’s report here to see how.

The last thing our education system needs, however, is another one-size-fits-none, monolithic solution that only furthers much of what is wrong about it in the first place.


  • Michael B. Horn
    Michael B. Horn

    Michael B. Horn is Co-Founder, Distinguished Fellow, and Chairman at the Christensen Institute.