With the current economic crisis in our country and the affect it's having on public education, I'm curious what others think about the 4 day school week. Is anyone out there currently doing it? What are the pros and the cons of such a step?
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I think another way to implement a four day week successfully would be to rely on on line learning and integration of outside resources within the curriculum that drive students to make discoveries on their own outside of the classroom environment. That said, there also comes a sense of personal responsibility that must be brought into play. If students are not self-motivated to complete assignments on their own outside of class, then parents must step in and make sure that their children are doing the required work. However, many parents these days work two jobs just to make ends meet. What will happen to those children who lack motivation and do not have a strong parental force guiding them to "make" them do their work?
If a 4 day school week was adopted, it of course does not necessarily mean that students will do less work - rather more project based work can be given to students to do outside of class, perhaps using e-learning or wikis or similar discussion tools to faciliate such an aproach.
I am very much in favor of this idea. Fridays are often wasted days anyway, as most athletic events take place on Fridays, so you have large numbers of students out early to take the road trip for the game. It would cut our building's heating, cooling, water and cleanup bills by 1/5 and on most weekdays, I'm spending ten hours at the school anyway,. Lengthening the school day by an hour or so isn't going to seem much different to me.
This is certainly not a change to implement in the middle of the year. Some of the parents who are worried about their children being "watched" actually have very valid concerns. Those with jobs are working really had to make ends meet, and many are in situations where they must compete with co-workers to avoid being "the next one" to get a pink slip. Parents in these situations would have a very hard time cutting an entire day off their work schedules or affording childcare. It's not like they're sitting in the bathtub eating bon-bons while the school supervises their children!
Over the past year and a half, we've talked about this issue quite a bit in my large school district. Many of the educators seem to be for the idea as long as the hours of education are essentially the same (i.e., lengthening the school day). However, the majority of our students' parents have been in an uproar over this. Not surprisingly, their number one objective is not regarding the quality of their children's education, it is actually, "Who's going to 'watch' children for us on their day off?" While that should not be the most significant concern with a schedule switch, it is literally the main reason that we have not switched to a four-day week.
Everyone makes good and rational points. As a teacher I too am concerned about the how this would effect our lower socio/economic students. Our district has a 67% free and reduced luch population.
With regard to #5 you make some valid points, but as a teacher in a small public school, I feel the need to clarify just a bit.
"Resources used in education are long term investment in future . . . But we should be careful not to affect the quality of education just to economize on current expenses."
This undeniably true, but what many schools are looking at is that there is less and less money to "invest", and it's not so much a matter of economizing what we have as much as it is finding a way to do what we need to do with what we don't have.
4 Day School Week
There are many pros and cons to a 4 day school week. It can definitely save the school money by having a 4 day week. Our school doesn't currently have a 4 day week, but we were considering it when adjusting our budget.
Some pros of a 4 day week include money saved on electricity. Also the buses would only have to run 4 days, thus saving money on gas.
The cons include a longer school day, which might equal less attentive students. Also extra curricular activities would have to be scheduled around other schools in the conference, so they can play games vs. those schools.
These are just some of the pros and cons of a 4 day school week. Consider other aspects before making a decision. A 4 day week can be beneficial if implemented correctly.
Most states require a minimum number of hours attended or completed before a student is passed to the next grade. The 4-day week would not work in Florida unless the total number of hours were increased; for example from five 7.5 hour days (= 37.5 hours weekly) to four 9.5 hour days (=38 hours weely). The extra two hours daily would be tough for the less motivated students, who are already shutting down by the final period of a five day week. Working parents would be at an impasse over what to do with their children on that fifth, non-school day. As a teacher, I would love the long weekends, however.
By closing the schools for an extra day a week, I imagine there could be quite a bit of energy conserved. If the work load is kept similar, and each of the four remaining days is lengthened, my own opinion is that the learning could be as good. Sometimes our kids do not get enough down time--it really is needed to process what is learned.
A big down side is that kids that rely on school breakfasts and lunches for a big part of their food intake would be further compromised. The kids who are homeless would also have one more set of time where they would have nowhere to go.
Hawaii has gone to four day weeks for the remainder of the school year... I'm adding a link. But they haven't lengthened the days that do have school, so that seems a bit bad...
It's been done in a bunch of districts, mainly rural ones where bussing is such a huge cost. Here's a link that talks about what effects they think the 4 day week has.
I am not aware of the proposals in the USA to reduce working days in schools to 4 days a week. However from the earlier four posts it appears that one of the main considerations is to mitigate the effect of current economic crisis and to conserve energy. In this connection I would like to make just one point. Resources used in education are long term investment in future and not just expenses to meet are current needs. If it is possible to maintain the same level of education with reduced expenditure, that is fine. But we should be careful not to affect the quality of education just to economize on current expenses.
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