The Case For Saturday School

Like kids in China and many kids from Chinese immigrant families in the US, my son and daughter go to school on Saturday.

They have been going to Saturday Chinese school since they were five years old. They spend about three hours at the Saturday Chinese School to learn Chinese and math.

My daughter used to say: “I go to school every day. Monday through Friday is regular school. Saturday is Chinese school. Sunday is Sunday school.”

I like my kids to spend more time in school learning. I prefer longer school year and shorter summer breaks.

According to the Wall Street Journal article “The Case for Saturday School” (Sat./Sun., March 20-21, 2010), kids in China attend school 41 days a year more than students in the US. American youngsters devote more time to using entertainment media and less time to formal learning in school.

In addition to shorter school year, American schools spend “enormous amount of time on gym, recess, lunch, assembly, changing classes, homeroom, lining up to go to the art room, looking at movies, writing down homework assignments, quieting the classroom, celebrating this or that holiday, and other pursuits. It’s not all wasted time but neither are these minutes spent in ways that boost test scores, enhance college-readiness or deepen pupils’ understanding of literature, geography or algebra.”

“Longer school days and years also aid working parents; for many of them, 2:30 dismissal times and three-month summer breaks are more burden than benefit. And the more time kids spend in safe schools, the less time they have to go astray at home or in the neighborhood.”

I agree with what the author Chester E. Finn Jr. said in the article. He is a former assistant secretary at the Department of Education.

When I wrote about extending school year in the past, I got mail from readers. I noticed that it is a controversial topic and draws critics from opponents.

I hope they will at least understand why Asian kids (Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese, Singapore, etc.) in American schools generally do better than their classmates, and youngsters from many Asian nations routinely out-score their American counterparts on international tests of science and math.

Asian kids are not necessarily smarter, but they do spend more time on learning and work harder for school.