Bloggingheadsing with Katherine Mangu-Ward, Dana Goldstein posits that longer school days could help reduce childhood obesity by providing kids with an extra meal a day in a controlled environment where, in principle, you could be ensuring that people get nutritionally sound food:
On her blog, she clarifies:
When I say “longer school day,” I am not at all envisioning kids sitting in rows looking at a blackboard for three or four extra hours. Rather, I’m imagining something like what the best public, private, and charter schools are already doing: a mix of additional instructional time and mealtimes with small group break-out activities like reading clubs, sports, board games, supervised computer time, library browsing time, and art and music lessons.
I think there’s a lot to be said for spending resources on increasing schooling time for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. But this nutrion/public health mechanism is a bit bank shotty. There’s just substantial research indicating that longer school days help poor kids overcome demographically-predicted achievement gaps. For example, in her well-known study of high-performing New York charter schools, Caroline Hoxby “found that the strongest predictor of high student performance among charter schools was a longer school year. She also discovered that a longer school year is highly correlated with a longer school day within the schools she studied.” CAP did a big thing at the start of the year about how to make expanded learning time programs work.