By Teachers, For Teachers
Who wants EVERY Friday off? I DO, I DO… or do I?
Schools around the country are considering the four-day work week to deal with extreme budget cuts. With a shorter week, these schools can save thousands of dollars a year on busing costs and building utilities.
There has been a mixed reaction to this drastic change to the school schedule. In order to maintain required instructional hours, schools will likely extend the school day and/or have shorter summer breaks. Some educators, educators and even students worry that the 4-day schedule will be too much for students and hurt overall achievement and learning in schools.
Working parents also worry about what they’ll do with their children on that extra day off. More time off could lead teenagers to get in trouble or cost parents big bucks in childcare.
In a local Chicago news article, one student raised concerns about a longer school day.
"I'm already zoning out," said Kelly Bowman, a freshman at Warren Township High School. "Two more hours of sitting? We would have no energy left to do anything."
Bowman currently arrives home from school around 6:30 p.m., after athletic practice and other activities. She does not like the idea of straggling in even later, say by 8:30 or 9 p.m. full article
Not everyone is against the 4-day schedule. If the shorter week will save teaching jobs, keep class sizes down and help arts programs and extracurricular activities stick around, isn't it worth the trade off?
In response to concerns about child care, some districts have proposed opening the doors of some schools to the YMCA or Boys & Girls Clubs of American to offer alternative programming at a minimal fee to parents.
Supporters also argue that kids would get home at the same time as parents, eliminating after-school care and issues of latchkey kids.
What Does the 4-day Schedule Mean for Teachers?
Hour-for-hour, the 4-day schedule will be an even trade for students, but what about teachers?
There has been debate about how this schedule will be implemented for teachers. Will teachers be expected to teach longer days AND work that fifth day as well?
In Klamath Falls, Oregon:
“Linda Kehr, a teacher at Ferguson Elementary School and member of the four-day week committee, said teacher workload wouldn't be dramatically affected, adding that teachers would use Friday to attend mandated teacher-training sessions.” full article
To me, longer days and mandatory teacher training sounds like it would increase the teachers’ workload, right? On the other hand, saving money could mean saving jobs and resources to keep teaching jobs more manageable.
As always, it’s all about implementation. If your district is considering a 4-day week, you may want to pay much more attention to what your local union is doing to protect your interests (and your sanity).
The 4-day Divide: Rural vs. Urban
Rural areas seem to more easily embrace the 4-day schedule more than urban communities.
Last year, Schools in Colorado, New York, Minnesota, Kentucky, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah are all trying out the four-day work week. The programs are mostly in rural areas where school districts spanning hundreds of miles.
In West Cliffe, Colorado, Custer County has been on the four-day schedule for nearly 20 years.
"Not running the buses is the biggest savings with six bus routes, each one close to 100 miles. The utilities savings are negligible because we often are heating the school for sporting events like basketball or volleyball," [Superintendent Lance] Villers said. “The district also saves on substitute-teacher pay because "we don't have to have subs in the building on Fridays.” Full article
This movement may be headed to more urban environments as well. In the latest instance, Illinois politicians approved an option for struggling districts to switch to a four day school week to save money. Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley opposes the idea, along with local teachers unions.
“A four-day week -- what do parents then do on Friday, or a Monday, or a Wednesday? Many parents are working. A single parent has to work. And so how do they afford then? What are they supposed to do with their child? There are so many problems with this issue,” Daley said. “You cannot allow children to have another day off.”
But does that argument imply that schools exist as free childcare for parents and that teachers are babysitters? How much should that factor into the education system?
With such a complex issue, we need you opinion. Would a 4-day school week work for you? Share in the comments section!