Would a Four-Day School Week Benefit Students?
Or is it really just another crack in the aging veneer of public school respectability? Reducing the school week to…
Or is it really just another crack in the aging veneer of public school respectability?
Reducing the school week to four days instead of five is an increasingly popular idea among both teachers and students. But is it actually beneficial? Or perhaps the real question is, who does it benefit?
There are some interesting reasons for shortening the school week. These reasons, however, are on the weak side, to say the least.
Saving money is a big one, especially for more rural schools. Some bus rides for kids are over an hour long; just imagine the gas needed, never mind the wasted time. However, this might be considered a weak excuse. After all, isn’t President Joe Biden bragging that he has invested 56% more into the annual education budget? Where is all that money going, precisely? Perhaps into the teachers unions’ pet projects like critical race theory education for teachers? It seems that it’s definitely not going where it needs to go.
Another reason given is that a four-day school week would lower the overall absentee rate for kids. If there is one less school day, then there is one less day to not show up to school. This, however, is preposterous. The reason kids are absent more often has less to do with school and more to do with the home. Fewer school days won’t fix that.
Another seeming reason for the change has to do with personnel issues. If one district has a shorter workweek than a more desirable district still on the five-day model, that may tempt good teachers to choose a job with fewer work days. Having to work fewer days may also reduce teacher and student burnout overall. This reasoning might be on shaky grounds, but there are some potential benefits. The four-day school week presents an opportunity for extended family time. Time at home with parents and siblings could potentially counteract some of the ills and indoctrination with which schools are filling your child’s head.
This extra day could also be dedicated to your child’s pursuing opportunities to learn and develop new hobbies or practice their chosen sports. It could be used as another learning opportunity to develop study skills and help children learn to use their free time wisely. All of these ambitions and goals are top shelf. Sadly, they are utopia-like in nature. Unless a parent is a stay-at-home parent, many of these benefits wouldn’t be able to be realized.
The reality is that the deficits outweigh any potential benefits.
Because these are public schools we’re talking about and not homeschooling, the shortened academic week does not translate into more efficient learning. In a homeschool situation wherein a parent is able to focus particularly on their children and their schooling needs, many are able to finish the majority of their work before lunch and spend the afternoons in other pursuits.
Not so in public schools. Even with the proposed longer hours on those four school days, one study found that the overall academic losses are just as profound as the pandemic losses over the course of a year.
A similar (but less drastic) sort of academic loss is seen each year by teachers on a smaller scale called “summer losses.” Over the summer, many children have some academic losses because they haven’t been doing anything that reinforces those school-learned skills. The majority of the first nine weeks of school is spent reinforcing last year’s material and readjusting kids to learning. It is only logical that the losses over time would be greater on a four-day-week model on top of a summer break.
Other negative effects we have learned about from the pandemic apply to the four-day model as well. For some kids, school is their only safe zone. Home is a place of abuse and neglect. Home could also be in a neighborhood that is saturated in gang culture, and one more day at home is one more day dodging that life (or not, as the case may be).
Kids, unless directed by adults, would probably not use that extra time in a productive way. This is not entirely their fault; after all, they are merely a product of their society — addicted to social media and the dopamine hits that come with likes.
Then there is the very real issue that most parents are working parents. If there are only four days of school, that means the parents would need to figure out childcare for their kids on that day off. It quickly become a major drain on personal resources.
At the end of the day, these sort of public school “budget saving” and “popular” measures are bad ideas. If the purpose of public school is to educate all American children, then it is increasingly more evident that our public schools are failing. The unions, school administrators, and many teachers have lost sight of their purpose. They have instead placed their own needs above that of their students, their students’ families, and the community that they purportedly serve.
Who benefits? Only those who profit from ignorant, ill-educated masses. These days, that describes the elite and many in the Democrat Party.