Top 5: Why Bart Simpson's Chalkboard Rants are Right -- or Wrong

Duke Professor Harris Cooper Opines on Bart's Greatest Chalkboard Hits

Fair use image courtesy of
Fair use image courtesy of

As an education policy expert, Duke professor Harris Cooper studies issues surrounding homework, school schedules and other activities students engage in out of school that affect their classroom performance.

He is also an unabashed fan of The Simpsons, the animated TV show that on Sunday will air its 500th episode. (In fact, Cooper is the author of "(a) None of the Below: Psychological Testing on the Simpsons" in the edited book D'oh: The Psychology of the Simpsons.")On the show, Bart Simpson, the insolent son, is often punished for misdeeds by being forced to write, over and over, on a chalkboard about the error of his ways.

Here, Cooper responds to some of Bart's writings with his "Top 5 Things Bart Simpson Wrote About School that I'd Like to Talk to Him About."

1. Global warming did not eat my homework

No, Bart, it didn't. Your grade level suggests about 40 minutes of homework a night should be optimum. Research results are consistent with teachers' 10-minute rule: about 10 minutes multiplied by your grade level each school night. No tree house until your homework is done.    

2. I will not sleep through my education

Maybe we should change the school start-time. A Duke undergrad did her honors thesis by surveying school districts that had switched to starting the elementary schools early and the high schools late. She found generally positive outcomes from the change, with only a small number of complaints about afterschool sports and childcare. Not sure how I feel about this myself, but in your case, if you make it to high school, it couldn't hurt.

3. I did not see teacher siphoning gas

No. Nor do "teacher unions run the country." Nor did you "see teacher applying for welfare." That said, teachers make noticeably less than other professionals with a similar education. And, in real terms, teachers make less today than they did 30 years ago. Bart, want to ensure that your kids get a good education? Give teaching the occupational status it deserves. The best and brightest will then replace Ms. Krabappel.

4. I will not sell school property

Good thinking, Bart. Though I have to say this is not a very original idea. I grew up in the South Bronx; several years back the head of the community board that controlled my old school was indicted for, among other things, selling stuff from the elementary school I attended.

5. Have a great summer, everyone

Probably not for you, Bart. Summer school starts sooner than you think. Our research shows you will learn there. And, you won't be lonely. Until the Great Recession, enrollment in summer schools was growing rapidly, not just remedial classes but enrichment as well. Also, more and more kids were going to school on year-round calendars. The modern American family has changed; the school calendar is lurching toward catching up.