States and local school boards are experimenting with four-day weeks in a move to save money. But questions abound about the impact on student education and other logistics.
The four-day school week was highlighted in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, but the issue has been around forever. Turns out states are giving the locals more leeway in setting schedules. In many western states, the four-day system is already deployed. According to the Education Commission of the States, there are 100 school districts in 17 states on the four-day system. There are more than 15,000 districts in the U.S.
If you go back into the research it appears that four-week systems are debated every recession or budget crunch. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a good list of older legislation from the early 2000s and 1990s.
Indeed, the Education Commission of the States in November addressed the issue in a report:
The four-day school week is not a novel issue, as it first appears to have been used by South Dakota in the 1930s. During the energy crisis of the early 1970s, districts in New Mexico implemented the alternative schedule, and the number of districts across the country following suit has gradually increased with each economic crisis. Although the majority of the nation’s districts operate under a traditional school calendar, approximately 120 districts (of 15,000 districts nationwide) in 17 states use a four-day school week. These districts typically are small (student enrollments of fewer than 1,000 students), rural and located west of the Mississippi River.
There are multiple parts to this equation. On the surface, I don't doubt that you can do 5 days of education in four days. In fact, it could be more productive. As a parent, you have to wonder about child care. Who will watch over your kids on Fridays? It's not like your company will suddenly go to a four-day weeks to match your school district. And then there's the big unknown: How does this four-day schedule impact students? Simply put, there isn't a lot of research available on the topic.
Here's the crib sheet:
Does a four-day week make sense? Are you receptive to it? And what personal hurdles would you face if your kids were in a four-day program?
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com