SCHOOL'S IN

Obama Wants Shorter Summer Vacation

President Obama and his top education official want to increase the amount of time students are in classrooms, which might mean—gasp!—shortening summer vacations. "Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," Obama said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom." Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the current school calendar is based on "the agrarian economy," but kids today aren't working in the fields. "Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here," Duncan says. "I want to just level the playing field." But the Associated Press reports that kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school than many students in Asian countries like Singapore,Taiwan, and Japan, who outscore American students on math and science tests. Charter schools report academic gains from lengthening the school day.