By CANDY STALLWORTH
As students pack up their backpacks and head back to school over the next few weeks, some will be doing so with the knowledge that their school week is now only four days. Adams County School District 27J, just outside of Denver, Colorado, is one of a growing number of districts, mostly in rural, western areas, that are implementing a four-day school week. Students in District 27J will attend school Tuesday through Friday from 8:30am – 4:30pm, and Mondays will be a day off. For parents who need childcare on Mondays, the district will offer it for children under 12 at a very affordable rate.
Some reasons cited for the move to a four-day week are to cut costs that would otherwise be spent on busing and/or paying substitute teachers, and to attract more teachers in an area where salaries are low and a shortage exists. Teachers will be required to work one Monday a month for half a day, but Superintendent Chris Fiedler is hoping that they will use the Mondays off “to prepare and be better for kids…This will give people a chance to have a weekend and then come in on Monday — whether they’re paid to or not because they’re doing that work anyway to be prepared for kids and to be better for kids.” However, education policy expert Linda Darling-Hammond disagrees with the four-day week as a purported benefit to teachers, noting, “We can compensate these teachers all they want in more free time, but their pay is still not going up.”
Will the four-day week improve teacher recruitment and morale and raise student achievement? Other districts that have implemented a four-day week have cited evidence—mostly anecdotal, however—in support of the change. For instance, White Rock School in McCloud, Oklahoma, started a four-day week two years ago, where students attend Monday through Thursday from 8:00am to 3:30pm. Superintendent Bob Gragg points to lower absenteeism rates and increased student achievement. “We did it to save money and to make our teachers happier, and keep them happy. We’ve seen both of those things, and more.” Furthermore, he notes that Fridays are used for optional field trips to places that are educational in nature, such as to museums or libraries. These trips particularly benefit children from low-income families, who “wouldn’t get these experiences if we didn’t do this on Friday,” Gragg notes.
Because the four-day school week is a fairly new trend, long-term effects on important phenomena such as student learning and teacher satisfaction have yet to be determined. While some empirical research currently exists, more studies certainly will need to be done. And the benefits of the short week may not extend to large, urban districts, where low-income families may not be able to afford childcare on the day off, even if it is at minimal cost. Furthermore, in areas plagued by high crime and drug abuse rates, there is potential for trouble if their adolescent population is out of school, without obligations or entertainment, for an additional day each week. And urban school districts, which are characterized by high teacher turnover, may need more than a four-day week to attract high-quality educators.
It remains to be seen if a four-day school week earns an “A” for its benefits to families, educators, and most of all, students. One thing’s for certain, though: there are many kids (and at least a few teachers) with fingers crossed, hoping for that weekly Monday or Friday off.
Candy Stallworth, an Empire State News staff writer, whipped her way through a doctoral education at the finest of American higher ed institutions, noting how unoriginal, inept, and annoying many of the schools’ professors were in their robotic attempts to maintain a politically correct narrative. BTW: she hates words like “narrative”, “optics”, and “gaffe.” Other than that, her turn-offs include non-masculine men, women who hate men, men who hate men, phonies, disloyal people, and overflowing garbage cans. She likes New England clam chowder better than Manhattan clam chowder, but prefers Manhattan to New England.
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