More on the Four Day School Week
Back in December I shared that Southern Columbia School District in Catawissa, PA intended to have a Four-Day School Week through January and February to save on heating and transportation costs. According to School Leader News the idea of a four-day school week is gaining momentum around the county.
Select districts in about 17 states already have a four-day week with similar proposals being considered by the legislature in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Missouri and Washington. The four-day school week was introduced in the 70's in response to the oil crisis and is now gaining fresh momentum in these troubling economic times. In order to meet state laws regarding instructional hours, most districts found they had to add just over one hour of instruction per day.
According to Associated Press (the source for this article) research indicates that districts save on transportation costs and can lead to increased attendance and teacher retention. In addition, studies have shown the four-day schedule has not negatively impacted student achievement, rather it may even help improve test scores. Critics indicate that the four-day school week is a burden on working parents and young children can't handle a longer school day.
As a working parent myself I find the critics comments interesting. My kids already have long days. I start work at 8 am and school does not start until 9 am. We need daycare before and after school. I would love the option to send my children to school where they would have a rich educational program and not require daycare four days a week. I might still need to pay for one full day, but I see the costs evening out. In addition the concern also assumes all working parents have a 9 to 5 job. In reality parents work all kinds of hours and an extra day during the week may even enhance family time.
I am the most concerned about the knee-jerk reaction to simply add an hour of instruction to the school day. Why not follow Singapore's example and explore online learning as a component. Perhaps that isn't appropriate for elementary students, but we might find that secondary students would flourish.
In the end I am neither for or against the idea of a four-day school week. However, if we are going to explore it, let's really look at it and not simply add an hour of instruction to the other four days of school. Most importantly, let's make sure the whatever structure we have is good for kids. Let's take an opportunity to create a robust and relevant curriculum, not simply create a longer school day.
For the complete article see the March 20, 2009 article in School Leader News.
Desk photo courtesy of Mouse's photostream from Flickr.
Jumping photo courtesy of Billie / PartsnPieces :::'s photostream from Flickr.