Getting 4 day school weeks

Getting 4 day school weeks

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Josh Jake started this petition to Jarred Polis and

It may seem like a new concept: The Four-Day School Week.  However, four-day school weeks have been implemented across our country for decades – and have provided a myriad of benefits.  For one semester, our district had the four-day school week, and we all experienced the benefits.  Now, we are being told to return to a five-day school week and are finding it difficult.  We aren’t the only ones finding struggling with this.  In an interview for the National Education Association, one Colorado superintendent said, “forcing schools to return to a five-day week was a curious preoccupation in a state that has been starved of money, and teachers’ salaries have lagged behind every state in the union over the past decade” (Walker).  From finances to attendance to educational focus, the benefits of a four-day school week outweigh any cons.  Our District should return to a four-day school week because it is cost efficient and benefits teachers and students alike.

          Putting the emotions and opinions of teachers and students aside for a moment, let’s look at the research done across state lines: at best, there are overwhelming benefits to a four-day school week - and at worst, there is no difference or impact between a five and four-day week.  According to the National Commission of State Legislatures (NCSL), “… one study of students in Colorado showed a statistically significant improvement in math scores among students on a four-day schedule…” (Wallace) proving that academic benefits, while not usually the target goal of a four-day week, are possible.  In New Mexico, where many districts resorted to a four-day week to deal with budget constraints, “districts using the shorter week have realized unexpected educational benefits… Attendance for teachers and students has improved while student achievement on standardized tests has remained stable. And staff recruitment became easier because a four-day work week was more attractive to prospective teachers” (Reeves).  In summary, the benefits of a four-day week include higher test scores, higher attendance for both teachers and students, and districts decreased spending money which allows incentives for prospective teachers to work within that district.  With these various benefits of the four-day school week, districts still are hesitant - even though the four-day week will better the school, its staff, and those who attend with ease. The four-day week and all its glory does have those who oppose it. Those who argue against the four-day week claim it is detrimental to students’ educations.  However, research states that there is little to no academic change by dropping a day of school. Some research, as highlighted previously, even shows increased academic success.

Personally, during the time we had the four-day week, I experienced an increase in motivation to get my work done, had time to complete the large homework loads I was receiving, and most importantly I was able to have mental breaks. Those breaks helped me focus and keep stress on a manageable level, which was incredibly useful. However, the school decided to change back to a five-day week which threw me off my rhythm and I struggled to get work completed. This sudden change caused me to stress out and push my friends and family away so I would be able to finish the assignments. By pushing all these people away, I began having trouble being present mentally with all my work and especially at school. I was curious if I was the only one that felt this way, so I interviewed some classmates. I interviewed John Bamke, a student, athlete, worker, and generally functioning member of society. John commented by saying, “Personally, I felt school wasn’t pressuring me to do all my assignment and allowed me to have mental breaks from the various subjects of homework I was given” during the four-day schedule. Now I was even more curious – so I asked my tutoring about her opinions on a four-day school week.  She said that, “having a four day week would allow me to focus fully on my students while I was with them.  I often have to focus on meetings, IEPs, curriculum development, and lesson planning in the times between classes which pulls my focus from my teaching.  If I had one day during the week that I could schedule all my meetings, conduct my lesson planning, and work to develop curriculum, then I could be much more present and focused with my students while I have them” (Ally Marcino – HS English Teacher, CSDB). So if a four-day week is support by students, teachers, and research – why are those who still oppose it?

I have made it evident that I believe District 11 should return to a four-day school week.  Research and anecdotes prove that there are many benefits and very few downfalls to a four-day week.  Not only do four-day weeks entice prospective teachers, give schools more flexibility with their budgets, and provide teachers with a day to plan or attend professional development – by my interviews uncovered that students also thrived under the four-day week.  The question here really isn’t if we should return to a four-day week, but when are we returning to it?

 

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