Dumb Cuts: Four-Day School Week is Cop Out

Many school districts continue to seriously consider or outright adopt a four-day school week, and it’s a dumb solution in more ways than one. For one, cutting a day of school literally likely to contribute to already lacking American public school performance. Secondly, removing a day of school seems like it would be the 50th, maybe 49th best tactic for reducing wasteful spending in public schools.

For some context, let’s go over the plan, rationale, and scope of the four-day school week. Back in the day, and even recently, the four-day school week has not been rare, especially in rural areas of the country. This would have made sense in the days when children were a commodity for agriculturally-dependent families. Realistically, that is still the case in some regions and cultures. But unless children are not going to work with their parents or helping out on the family farm, it’s difficult to grasp how this could make sense, even when one weighs the purported benefits of the idea.

According to the site Seattle Pi, there are numerous benefits of giving kids and teachers an extra day off of school. Here are the arguments, and the all-too-obvious counterargument to each.

1) Better Teacher and Student Morale

Explanation: ‘Being out of school one extra day per week allows students to relax or to be more productive. The four-day format provides opportunities for an extra work day at an after-school job, engaging in volunteer activities or pursuing additional educational goals…Also, students who are athletes don't miss as much class and have less work to make up when events occur on a day off.’ (Seattle Pi)

Counterargument: Really? Three-day weekends throughout the entire school year helps super-stressed first graders catch up on some much-needed relaxation? Shocking!

All the while their parents will have to find and pay for somebody to watch them? Seems reasonable. As they say, first grade is the most stressful time of one’s life. Can’t have them burned out before the post-graduation cake walk through full-time employment begins!

Plus, you can’t argue with that logic; indeed, athletes can’t miss school on a day off if they don’t have school. Checkmate.

2) Reduced Discipline Referral Frequency

Explanation: ‘Fewer days spent in class might mean fewer discipline referrals for students. Jimmy Linderman, superintendent of the Chattooga County School District in Georgia, reported that during one year the discipline referral frequency of students attending school only four days per week fell 73 percent.’ (Seattle Pi)

Counterargument: Some have said that this is due to kids being more rested, well-balanced, and prepared. I know I was always far less likely to talk back to a teacher or clock another student during the week after July 4th or Labor Day. Or, maybe they’re just in school for a month and a half less each year, which is a month and a half fewer opportunities to cut class or get in a fight...I’m sure they’re just better rested!

3) Improvement of Attendance

Explanation: ‘The Melstone School District in Melstone, Mont., has reported statistics indicating that their attendance improved as much as 20 percent over a two-year period after moving to a four-day school week.’ (Seattle Pi)

Counterargument: Again, is it really an improvement in attendance if you’re allowing students and teachers not to attend for a day each week throughout the 35-40 week school year? Seems like holey logic here.

4) Academic Improvement

Explanation: I won’t waste your time.

Counterargument: You shittin’ me? Lower the bar, raise the scores, huh?

5) Reduction in Financial Cost

Explanation: ‘A reduction in system spending may be a significant factor considered when moving to a four-day school week. Transportation costs including fuel, bus maintenance and driver salaries are reduced. Also, if facilities are used only four days per week instead of five, there is a significant reduction in utility costs to the system.’ (Seattle Pi)

Counterargument: In all the explanations of a four-day school week, it’s yet to be explained how public school parents, who often both work full-time jobs, will have their kids watched out for. This plan may save ‘the system’ money (whatever that means), but it will almost certainly come at the expense of parents, quite literally.

And for what? So that Timmy has an extra day to play Minecraft, get his meditation on, and so that teachers’ Monday morning hangovers don’t clash with the traditional work week?

Nobody in their right mind could argue that the four-day work week is a smart way to “save costs” or “increase academic performance”. If kids are getting too many detentions, how is taking them out of a structured environment going to help them improve their behavior?

It’s not. The four-day work week is little more than a rouse to make life even easier on teachers (who don’t work over the summer, lest you forget), to keep the kids from fostering more independent thought, and to, apparently, get even less out of tax dollars that are already being wasted on a broken, inefficient American public school system that ranks 14th in reading, 25th in math, and 17th in science.

The answer to upping these scores, they now tell you: less school!

So, how can we justify 600 districts across at least 22 states now switching to the four-day school week? For an honest explanation of why Mondays off for kids is so necessary (and so beneficial!), we can turn to seven-year-old Damien Rael, whose grandmother, a hospital cook, would struggle to provide care for the seven-year-old if it weren’t for the local, Boys & Girls Club.

‘Damien, who immediately made his way to a pool table upon arrival, said he likes the day off because he gets to sleep in and play.’ (WSJ)

Damien, your teachers feel the exact same way…

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