The length of Hawaii’s school year has become a hot-button topic since the introduction of Furlough Fridays last year. But are the shuttered schools the symptom of a larger problem? That issue is more difficult to deal with: student achievement.

We know Hawaii public school students don’t score well on national tests. And that was the case before the state decided it would be necessary — and thus acceptable — for Hawaii to have the nation’s shortest school year.

There is more to student achievement than the number of instructional days, as we report in an article today. There are bigger questions than how to end Furlough Fridays, although clearly there’s a consensus that that needs to happen — even if consensus on how is more difficult to reach. But more important are questions such as how we decide the kind of education our children need and how we should pay for it. Should there be a minimum number of days, or is it the number of hours of instruction that is important? Would it be more helpful for our students if we focused on a common curriculum rather than on the length of the school year? You may have your own questions.

The issue is what we need to do to get the student achievement we as a community aspire to and how do we pay for it. After all, Furlough Fridays were a result of our inability, or unwillingness, to keep the schools open.

We all know that while Furlough Fridays is obviously a critical issue, there’s more to improving student achievement than just days of instruction. We’re interested in hearing your thoughts.

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