Rep. Tad Jones’ idea to increase instructional days for students by changing the measurement of the school year from 180 days to 1,080 hours of instruction is just one of many legislative initiatives, now on the table, addressing the need for an overhaul of Oklahoma’s education system. If Jones’ bill makes it through the lawmaking gauntlet, it will limit the days used for “professional meetings” from five to two days and give school districts the flexibility to establish an extended-day schedule.

Jones has offered a realistic reform strategy in House Bill 3122. If implemented, it could begin the process of revolutionizing public education in Oklahoma. The 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day structure may have been convenient for educators and families three generations ago, but it is out of step with the working lifestyles of today. The outdated structure of public education was based on an agriculture-based economy where at least one parent was always in the home or the children were a necessary component to earning the household income. That lifestyle is all but non-existent today. Children, under the age of 16, rarely contribute to the household income and most families have both parents working outside the home. Because the education system has failed to adapt to these socio-economic changes, families and the community-at-large now struggle daily to address the social impact of hundreds of children, who find themselves alone, with no parental or adult supervision in the after school hours.

It’s time for change. Jones’ idea deserves the full consideration of Democrats and Republicans. And, it deserves the necessary funding to make it reality.