In the latest policy brief by Education Policy Program at New America, policy analyst Alexander Holt explores the disparities in early childhood education. In his latest publication, Making the Hours Count, Holt suggests an efficient way to study the disparities is to examine the language surrounding the discussion of full time vs half-time schooling. In a brief history of schools, Holt shows how time structures within school systems are relatively unchanged since 1850s and thus are the foundation on which the very systems are built. Therefore, “ignoring time structures in discussions about curriculum is as flawed as if we were to ignore say, what type of math is appropriate to teach an eight year old.” In changing the current rhetoric of education, which is only looking at hours per day, the data should be based on hours per week, and ultimately per year. With the rhetoric centered on just how many hours per day the program lasts, the full scope of how much cumulative time in school a child is losing in the long term is lost.  Holt stresses the importance of the shift as it will give a better view to policy makers as to what is a good threshold of hours per week to give every child the best opportunity to learn and allow data collectors to study whether children are being offered a “low-quantity program” or a “low-quantity learning experience.” Currently this argument is centered on early childhood, before the shift can be made to think about public education in general.

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