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Back To School? 5 Reasons Why Four-Day Weeks Are A Terrible Idea For Public Schools

Submitted by on August 4, 2011 – 9:02 amNo Comment

In case you haven’t noticed, the entire country is a complete mess right now when it comes to finances. The national government is facing a tremendous amount of debt, state governments are taking extreme measures to trim their budgets, and individual towns and cities around the United States are struggling to stay afloat because of massive monetary deficits. And as a result, they’re doing everything in their power to cut costs.

In some places, that means that as public schools get ready to resume after three months of summer vacation, students will be headed back to four-day weeks. That’s right. After years of sending students to school for five days every week, some public school districts will save money by sending students to school for just four days a week. It’ll help save money on everything from busing and utility bills to school supplies and even staff salaries. It’s a plan that surely has the support of many kids out there, too, who will gladly go to school for a couple of extra hours everyday in exchange for a three-day weekend every week.

But, are four-day work weeks really the best solution to the shrinking budgets that many school systems face? We certainly don’t think so. In fact, we think that as school systems try and adopt four-day weeks in order to cut costs, they’ll also cut the quality of education for many students. Here are the five reasons four-day school weeks sound like a terrible idea to us.

1. Even if students spend the same amount of time in class over the course of four days as they would in five, they won’t be getting the same kind of instruction from teachers.

As it stands, there are many students who struggle to pay attention in class for an entire period. So making classes longer won’t necessarily mean that they’re getting the same amount of instruction as they would if they went to school for five days. Rather, it’ll force teachers to try and find new ways to get their students to pay attention in school. And that is a task that will simply be impossible for some teachers. So students will suffer and won’t get as much instruction as they do now during five-day school weeks.

2. With four-day weeks, students will inevitably spend less time on their studies every week.

In many schools, homework can only be assigned on days when students have class the following day. Right now, that means that students get four days worth of homework. However, if one day is trimmed off the school week, students will only have three days of homework. This will inevitably lead to lower test scores as students won’t be able to study as often as they do now. And even if teachers do start assigning homework on days when students don’t have class, they’ll likely be met with resistance. Either way, students won’t spend as much time as they do now engaged in studying.

3. Low-paid employees at schools will suffer as a result of four-day work weeks.

There are a number of people who work for school districts, including blue-collar workers like custodians and bus drivers, who will be hurt financially if schools scale back to just four days every week. Most of these workers are paid hourly wages and they’ll see their paychecks trimmed significantly if schools are only operating for four days. This will obviously help school systems trim their budgets, but it could also threaten to harm the local economy at the same time.

4. Students won’t be able to spend as much time involved in extracurricular activities.

If you ask most parents, the last thing kids these days need is an extra day off from school. It will give them extra time to goof off and get in trouble and limit the amount of time that they can spend engaged in extracurricular activities. Sports programs will also suffer because students won’t be able to practice as often or play as many games as they do now.

5. Working parents would have to spend money to find a babysitter to watch their kids on days when they would normally be in school.

This is undoubtedly the biggest issue that many students and their parents will have to face as more and more schools adopt four-day weeks. Many parents will need to find (and pay!) babysitters to watch their kids on the days that they no longer have school. Just because schools are scaling back doesn’t mean that jobs will permit parents to take off an extra day. It could result in large costs for parents and force them to cut costs themselves in order to ensure that their kids are properly cared for. It’s just another reason why four-day school weeks are definitely not the answer for school systems suffering from budget crunches right now.

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