FORT VALLEY, Ga. (AP) – During the school year, Mondays in this rural Georgia community are for video games, trips to grandma’s house and hanging out at the neighborhood community center.
Don’t bother showing up for school. The doors are locked and the lights are off.
Peach County is one of more than 120 school districts across the country where students attend school just four days a week, a cost-saving tactic gaining popularity among cash-strapped districts struggling to make ends meet. The 4,000-student district started shaving a day off its weekly school calendar last year to help fill a $1 million budget shortfall.
It was that or lay off 39 teachers the week before school started, said Superintendent Susan Clark. …
The results? Test scores went up.
So did attendance _ for both students and teachers. The district is spending one-third of what it once did on substitute teachers, Clark said.
And the graduation rate likely will be more than 80 percent for the first time in years, Clark said.
The four days that students are in school are slightly longer and more crowded with classes and activities. After school, students can get tutoring in subjects where they’re struggling.
On their off day, students who don’t have other options attend “Monday care” at area churches and the local Boys & Girls Club, where tutors are also available to help with homework. The programs generally cost a few dollars a day per student.
This is a fairly novel concept in that not many school districts have tried it and so it’s difficult to get data as to whether or not this is a better situation for education. I did find a couple of anecdotes from the article pretty interesting. Another school district that tried this went back to a five-day work week because the four-day week was too “hard on the teachers.” Because the teachers are the priority, right?
Also, some parents are upset that they now have to find babysitters for their kids one day during the work week. It’s a little sad that some parents see schools as little more than babysitters.
My reaction? I’m not sure how I feel about a four day school week. I’m not necessarily against it. I wonder sometimes if, at least with younger ages, less might not be more with education. School is important, but kids should also have time to be kids. They have their whole adult lives to be adults and work five days a week.
But really, this is yet another instance in which school choice would make the situation better. If your school goes to a four-day week and you don’t think it’s best for your children, shouldn’t you be able to take your children (and their share of education tax dollars) and choose a better school? I think so, and that sort of choice would be a market driver on things like the length of the school week, the length of the school day, curriculum, etc.
Much like in the business world, the best practices would rise to the top. Rather than trying to figure out some one-size-fits-all policy from a central authority, why not just empower individuals to choose what they think is best?