Obama Suggests Extending School Year

The president said students in China, India, and other countries are leaving U.S. students in the dust.

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By Richard Sisk and Corky Siemaszko
Daily News Staff Writers

Sorry kids, President Obama wants to extend the school year by a month.

"That month makes a difference," the President said Monday in an appearance on the "Today" show.

And while "that's going to cost some money," he said, "that would be money well spent."

Obama's interview kicked off a special NBC News series on education.

"There's nothing more important than the issue we're talking about today," he said.

Students in China, India and other fast-growing countries are already leaving U.S. students in the dust, he said.

"They have caught up and now in some cases have surpassed us," he said.

But simply throwing money at schools won't fix them.

"Money without reform will not fix the problems," he said.

Obama said his administration's "Race to the Top" program is forcing states and school districts to improve, but he said parents need to get more involved in their kids' education.

Special emphasis, Obama said, should be on beefing up math and science programs.

Getting personal, Obama said his daughters couldn't get the same quality education at a Washington, D.C., public school than they get at their private school.

"I'll be blunt with you: The answer is no right now," Obama said when asked whether daughters Malia and Sasha could receive as good an education as they do now at the Sidwell Friends School in affluent northwest Washington.

Tuition at the elite school costs $32,000 for Malia, 12, and $31,000 for Sasha, 9.

The D.C. public schools are "struggling," Obama said.

Asked about incompetent teachers, Obama agreed there were some bad apples in the classrooms and that they need to be removed.

"Sort of like politicians and journalists," the President joked.