Problems occur when policy makers tend to make changes when they don’t need to be made. The public school system has many ways that it can improve but changing the time frame of the original school week from five to four days will not solve all the issues, instead, it will create newer unforeseen problems. It has been a controversial issue whether or not the school week should shorten by a day. Some are of the opinion that a four-day school week saves money for the individual schools, which would be beneficial to the school system as a whole. According to Schmidt, “The district expects to save between $85,000 and $100,000 in 2008-09 because of the modified schedule. The contract with its transportation provider assures the district of $65,000 in savings. That’s nearly $3,000 per day. Other savings will result by reducing electrical usage and having fewer days that furnaces are required to heat the buildings to a comfortable level. (Schmidt 4).” In the article, the claim is that applying these cuts will result in saving the school money, however that is not entirely true. The four-day week would actually financially hurt the school rather than save costs. The transition from a five-day a week schedule to a four-day a week schedule will be difficult and detrimental by the fact that existing students will need to adjust to the new schedule after attending five-day school weeks up until this point.
According to Schmidt, “Despite reducing the number of instructional days from 172 to 149, MACCRAY students have gained more than 17 hours of instructional time by adding 65 minutes to each instructional day. Because there are fewer days, there are fewer breaks for recess, lunch, and time between classes — making more time for academic pursuits. (Schmidt 3).” However, Schmidt’s claim is invalid because the transition could also backfire because the students will eventually fall behind with their district requirements. This would cause an accumulation of unanswered questions, which will then lead to incomplete homework, and eventually test scores will drop noticeably. That would dramatically change the way in which students are assigned and complete homework, with the current homework spread across a 5-day-school-week homework become easier to manage. On the other hand, a 4 day-school-week will require denser combined homework because without Friday, for example, the school work will divide individually between Monday through Thursday.
Not only will homework pressure increase, but the length of each individual class lecture would need to increase to adequately cover the course material. With the additional burden of teachers getting laid off, a 4-day-school-week would make it harder for number of students who are having a difficult time keeping up with class material. Furthermore, a single absence will dramatically cause a student to fall behind in the course because one day of course material is a greater workload than previously and therefore more at stake. Students that fall behind will need to repeat courses, which will take away even more of the limited available space from the upcoming class students. Not only will the classrooms be overcrowded, but the teacher cannot manage to answer every question from each individual student. This pressure felt by many students and will cause delays in graduation and, even worse, an increased dropout rate.
An improvement in education requires a shift in focus toward education rather than a focus on increased leisure time. The three day weekend will at first seem enticing to the students, the faculty, and potentially the taxpayer; however, the risk is not worth taking considering where America is at educationally, as a nation. In a recent article, written from Liepmann, “In 2010, American students rank 17th in the world. (Liepmann 3).” We have 16 Countries surpassing us educationally, even though the USA is one of the most developed countries in the world along with 39 other countries. This reveals that the United States are already below the education standards and not to mention some undeveloped countries have better educational systems. Suoja and Creger state, “A spreadsheet provided by the state shows elementary students getting about 50 fewer hours of instructional time. Secondary students would have received 25 to 45 fewer hours. Under the state numbers, the district would need to add two weeks to the yearly schedule to make up the time. (Creger, Suoja 2).”
The students simply cannot afford to lose any additional school time due to an initial potential saving. The country would only get financially worse by raising under-educated civilians as the foundation of America. Many believe this cut will help rescue America from the economic crises by lowering taxes. However, upon further investigation, it would introduce too many risk factor and damage our economy further rather than aid it. Consequently, some students will not be able to graduate on time, and challenging courses will have higher drop rates or lower grades. This would harshly impact every American in the long term while only temporarily appearing to benefit in the short term. Ultimately, preserving the 5-day-week schedule is more beneficial than the alternative, while leaving things as they are may not address our current issues, I am confident that we as Americans can devise better educated solutions together, rather than create new problems to solve old problems.
Liepmann, Erica. “U.S. Falls In World Education Rankings, Rated ‘Average'” The Huffington Post. 07 Dec. 2010. TheHuffingtonPost.com. 10 July 2013 . Schmidt, Gregory. “USATODAY.com.” USATODAY.com. USA Today. 10 July 2013 . Creger, Mike, and Suoja, Matt. “State denies 4-day week again.” Lake County News-Chronicle [Two Harbors, MN] 15 July 2010. Opposing Viewpoints In Cont