State School superintendent Sandy Garrett’s proposal to expand the school day by an hour and the school year by five days is, simply put, a good idea.

Actually, it’s a really good idea.

With a national average of 180 school days and a 6.5-hour day, Oklahoma’s 175-day school year and its 6-hour school day is proof we’re far behind the curve.

But, thankfully, Garrett wants to change that.

She talks of the need for all Oklahoma students to be able to compete on a global scale. She talks about how students need to be educated to solve problems which have arisen yet, using technology which hasn’t been developed.

She’s right.

Just think back 30 years — eight track tapes were the vogue (there were no compact discs) and everyone had a record player. Cable television was in its infancy and the personal computer was still years away.

DVDs hadn’t been invented yet.

There was no such thing as digital photography.

Yet, somehow all these things were developed and, today, are part of our world.

Thanks to an educated population.

Garrett is right when she talks about the need for students to be in class longer and she’s right when she talks about the need to remove interruptions from those classrooms.

As the spouse of a public school teacher — and a former substitute teacher myself — I am well aware of daily problems faced by our state’s school teachers.

And things need to change.

But Garrett may be the voice in the wilderness.

Because it will take a great deal of legislative courage to do what she’s asking to do.

Courage that most of our state lawmakers don’t have.

Democrats and Republicans alike will give Garrett’s proposal lip service, but I predict that few will really do anything to adopt the idea.

Already one House member is saying the longer year proposal is a bad idea and Moore Republican Paul Wesselhoft is calling for a 15-day expansion instead of five.

Of course, neither proposal came out until after Garrett spoke last week.

And while I’m not going to question the motives of either lawmaker at this point, both proposals give me reason for concern.

It reminds me of 1990 — then, lawmakers struggled for months with a mammoth education reform package known as House Bill 1017.

The wrangling, political intrigue and sanctimony seemed to go on forever.

The schools, the teachers and the kids suffered.

Finally, the bill passed.

But shortly thereafter, a group of short-sighted activists circulated an initiative petition, misled the voters and rammed State Question 640 down the public’s throat.

Since then our secondary education system has struggled with inadequate funding. And we sent a message to the rest of the world that any innovative thinking was going to be greeted with public disdain.

Sure, today, you’ll hear about how state lawmakers have passed record school budgets.

But it’s not working.

Instead of working with schools, lawmakers issue endless press releases blaming teachers and teacher’s unions.

Funny thing, teachers are the closest to the problem.

They are in the class.

They know the students.

They know the issues.

And I tend to believe them over some of the “public servants” we have at 23rd and Lincoln.

So I’m pleased that Sandy Garrett raised the issue.

I applaud her for doing it.

I just hope state lawmakers will have the courage to act.

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