Thursday, March 10, 2011

Four Day School Weeks

By Sean Scarpiello

Recently in Texas, there has been a law proposed to cut typical five day school weeks to four day school weeks. The idea is still in its initial stages, so there isn’t a solid framework of exactly how school weeks would be structured. There would be an extra hour of school added to each of the four days to make up for loss of one full day. Also, this would cause students to have a three day weekend. If the idea is examined deeper, we may be able to see some benefits or maybe not.

At first, this idea sounds great to both students and schools. For students, it means less work and less days going to school. For schools, teachers have to work less. School administrators love this for budgeting purposes because it means there is less money that has to go towards transportation, school upkeep, and cafeteria costs. This plan is a great way to save money because it literally cuts out one fifth of the school year out for students, teachers and administration. Parents, however, hate this entire concept. For one it may mean that their children’s education will not be as strong as it could be. Also, parents are then burdened with having to arrange people to watch their children for an entire day.

From an educational standpoint, this is probably the worst idea for American education ever. The amount of time that students are in school has a direct correlation with the amount students learn. Even though the plan would be to increase the length of the four remaining school days, there would still be a loss of hours of instruction. A few hours here and there add up and at the end of the school year there would be a significantly less amount of instruction time. The argument that some people have is that students will be doing more work outside of class on their own. This is terrible reasoning because students in middle school and below need the direction and guidance of teachers. Simply telling children to teach themselves math is not a good solution.

Furthermore, students’ mindsets would definitely change when it comes to school. Since they are only going to school for a little more than half of the week, students would develop a poor attitude about school and learning. They would most likely become lazier and be more likely to skip school in high school and college. The education of students in Texas may even lose out later on in life because of their lower amount of education. Colleges would be more cautious about accepting Texas students because those students may be labeled as poorly educated.

In all, it is important to try to save money in the education field and many people are finding great ways to bring cheaper education to more people. This idea is just bad. As professionals seek new ways of improving education, it is vital to remember that the quality of education should never take the back seat to saving money.


1 comment:

Alisandra Wederich said...

This reminds me of what my college did in an attempt to deal with budget cuts: The College cut 1 day of instruction from each semester and deemed that students would have to make this day up with "Experiential Learning," meaning learning outside the classroom. This experiential learning would have to relate to the classes you took (ie: for my art classes, we could go to gallery openings, for history classes, visit a museum, etc...) Professors had to make sure that students completed 3 hours of experiential learning (ie: have students write a 1 page paper about their experience), but they weren't allowed to grade it.

Many students and professors alike regarded this practice as ridiculous and treated it without much enthusiasm or effort. Many students would only visit exhibits online and write their paper based on this virtual experience rather than visiting the place in person. And professors were bound to accept almost anything as "experiential learning" regardless of how tedious the link was between their class and the "experience" was.