Utah's state school superintendent wants to extend the school day and add more high school graduation requirements. On the surface it sounds good; more time should mean more learning. However, studies show that time is less relevant to student success than quality instruction, and extended time not only lowers learning efficiency but also raises the frustration level.

Achievement in our public schools is lower than in private schools or schools in other countries. Many European schools are in session only from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (no school lunch), yet student scores are higher. Forty years ago, American scores were substantially higher, and the school day was no longer then.Students in another state missed eight weeks of school during a teacher strike, and their achievement didn't suffer at all. In Utah, four-day school weeks also showed no drop in scores. Before we spend big bucks to lengthen the school day or year, maybe we should do something about the time already spent in school.

When children spend their best waking hours with peers, they use other children as role models and rely on them for companionship, affirmation and love; yet what they get is an immature example and mostly negative responses. That's why peer dependency contributes to negative behavior, gangs, drug use, early sex and even suicide. Our children become alienated from family and community when "incarcerated" for long periods.

Some working parents may be grateful that children are taken care of longer, but other parents may have to go to work just to pay the higher taxes. The current movement to nationalize education and include all children under the government umbrella will also relieve parents of their ability to have any say in what their child will be taught.

Ruth Lehenbauer