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Should Schools Adopt a Four-Day Schedule?

Hundreds of school districts are now giving students three-day weekends, but the schedule can come at a price.

If everybody works for the weekend, will everybody work harder for a longer weekend? I really don’t know, but I do know a new trend in education trend has been quietly growing.

In 2010, about 120 school districts were on a four-day school week. The following year, 300 school districts were operating on a four-day week. The idea is to add about an hour and a half to the school day Monday through Thursdays, with schools closed on Fridays, to help reduce costs related to transportation, staffing, energy and even serving school lunches. But is the monetary savings worth the potential cost in student learning?

According to the school districts participating in the four-day school week, there seems to be no loss or gain in student achievement. They claim students are more focused with less breaks in the school day and have the opportunity for more in depth learning due to fewer disruptions. Students have to opportunity to explore independent learning in areas of interest on their day off, and, with no school on Fridays, some high school students are using the time to take internships. In addition, the longer school day offsets the reduced number of days and in some cases has increased staff and student attendance. 

In my opinion, going to a four-day school is nothing more than a last-ditch desperate effort to save cash. The possible benefits to student learning have no basis in fact that I could locate and the benefits stated by the school districts who instituted the plan sounds a just a little fishy. Kids have enough trouble focusing for 50 minute intervals, let alone 65-minute periods. I don’t know of a single student who is disappointed that the period is over, no matter how interesting the lesson, upon hearing the bell ring.

Plus, the impact on younger students who fatigue more easily and may need child care on the fifth day doesn’t seem like a good plan for the child or the parents. Although some teenagers may use the time to explore personal interests or take internships, I wonder how many more would spend the extra time playing video games and watching reruns of "How I Met Your Mother."

If the school day is lengthened, when would there be time for sports or extra-curricular activities? Kids don’t have enough hours in the day as it is. If cross country practice or jazz band rehearsals start two hours later, when is there time to do homework? There isn’t. Not offering extra-curricular activities is another way schools are cutting costs as well, so fitting them in would probably not be an issue. A longer school day also limits the time teens have for part-time jobs.

No matter how the school district spins it, shortening the school day is a bad idea. It’s the first step toward scraping the idea of school altogether and installing robots in homes to teach Asimov-style, which would really save on transportation, teacher salary and school lunch costs.

Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, there is little danger of this happening since the condensed schedules do not allow time to teach the writings of Isaac Asimov, or anyone else, although I’m pretty sure the idea has come up in more than one school board meeting. But students will still have to opportunity to explore classic literature on their own, which has about as much chance of happening as having robots in everyone’s homes to replace school.

Terri November 05, 2012 at 11:05 PM
I agree. Unfortunately, any discussion here would digress to money grubbing, lazy teachers...it took a matter of minutes to go there when this article first went up.
joy November 06, 2012 at 01:26 AM
ABSOLUTELY!! Without me..he would not correct and hand back with straight up failing grades. He admits he is lazy and does not care, as do his co-workers. In their words "there is nothing more me can do..it is a race to nowhere". I would be doing society a disservice if I lied.
Mark Raymond Ganzer November 07, 2012 at 09:23 PM
I spoke with several workers from the Catepillar Corporation who work on a 4-day, 10-hour shift schedule. They were uniformly of the opinion that it was far more stressful and less productive. There is one change that, if we really cared about students learning, ought to be made: start the school day LATER, especially for high school students who are going through all sorts of hormonal changes and trend towards night owlness. Many students are physcially and mentall exhausted because of when they must awaken to begin to prepare for their school day (for which at Barrington Consolidated High School, classes start at 7:20 a.m.).
Quagmire November 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM
James is correct, "It's for the kids" has been a saying used for anyone trying to do something for a certain ulterior motive or reason to get people "off the trail" of what really is happening. My property value does not go up 4.5% a year, my pay has not gone up 4.5% a year. Why do I as a property tax payer have to pay more every year for this...??? Especially in an economy where one should be glad to even have their job yet alone keep crying for more when the well is dry.
joy November 13, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Very well said. Last year medicare cut reimbursement rates 3.2%. I took a NEGATIVE 3.2% raise!

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