I agree with Thomas Friedman’s point in his recent New York Times
column “The Shanghai Secret
” that the changes that led to Shanghai's educational successes are not "rocket science." However, Mr. Friedman missed a key difference between Shanghai and the United States: their students are spending much more time in school.
The school described in the article operates an 8-hour school day compared to the typical 6 to 6.5-hour school day here in the U.S. Also, Shanghai’s teachers are benefitting from much more collaboration and planning time during the school day. In the United States, we are making some strides in these two areas, but it is much too slow. Only 1,600 out of the over 100,000 public schools in the U.S. currently operate with an expanded school schedule. If we want to be in a position to compete with Shanghai we must expand learning time for students and teachers nationwide.