Friday, July 20, 2007

A 4-day school week?

On the surface this sounds wonderful! Work Monday through Thursday and have a 3-day weekend every weekend! Sign me up for that!

A local district in the DFW area is proposing to do away with the typical 5-day school week for a 4-day... the reason?

It'll save them money. $2 million to be exact.

Where is $23,000 of that going to go? To the superintendent (chief) of the district. He apparently needs a raise from his $196,000 salary. I read this earlier on WFAA.com and about fell out of my chair. The story is no longer available on their site. Shocker. (Main story is here)

So the proposal is being presented to the school board to change elementary school days M-Th 7:45-4:30 and middle and high school M-Th 8:30-5:30. Now, most people not in the teaching profession probably wouldn't see this schedule as being bad. After all, the normal workday is 8 or 9-5, but let me tell you, I don't need kids in my class to have work to do. On an average day I generally spend 2 hours after school working on tutoring, grading, lessons, etc. If I'm lucky, I may leave once a week when the clock starts with a 4.


Now past the very obvious pro that you would have 3-day weekends every week, I can only see the cons in this situation.

1. Attention span and concentration

Come 9th period (3:05-3:55) my students are already barely capable of maintaining focus and concentration for the majority of the period. Extending the day out to (gasp) 5:30 might possibly kill me. There better be recess included in this extra time, and yes, I mean recess for teenagers. You have no idea how much they need it. I'll even spring for the Axe to spray them down when they come back in all sweaty and stinky.

2. Curriculum timing

I already have to rush through concepts because of lack of time in the school year and the sheer volume of concepts that must be taught, compounded by many days lost for testing (field testing, district testing, TAKS testing). How in the world do you expect me to fit all that curriculum (which already gets short-changed) into an even smaller time frame? Not going to happen.

3. Testing

The center of every teachers life. Again I go to the time issue. My entire teaching career revolves around testing. You give me less time to prepare my students and expect me to meet the fantastic standards of NCLB, or those of my highly demanding district? I think I'll use my Friday's off for therapy, thank you very much.

4. My Friday's

WOO HOO! I get every Friday off! I am going to sleep in, go shopping, go see a movie, anything I want! But wait.... my teaching days don't end til 5:30, and I am NOT staying at the school until 8 everyday, so crap. How is all my work going to get done? I would sleep in no matter how much work I had to do, but these Friday's would be spent working.

5. Parents

Your district just approved a 4-day school week. You now either have to take Friday's off to care for your child or find suitable childcare. Now let me tell you, Lancaster is not that big of a city and there is NO WAY the childcare system there is capable of handling an influx of thousands of elementary school kids for one day a week.

6. HS Students

You are learning to be a mature adult. You have a job. You can only work until a certain time due to child labor laws. Your new school schedule may have easily cut 2-3 hours off your schedule each day, except Friday, which you now have off to compete with any other worker who is normally scheduled during the day. Good luck with that.

Now these are the only ones I've come up with so far.. and I've only had about 12 hours to work with! Call me cynical, but I really do not see the positives in this for the teachers, students and parents. Once again, money rules all. This will save the district $2 million. Since when did profits/losses run our school system?

This year Texas has to abide by a new calendar put forth by my favorite politician, Mr. Rick Perry. *gag* Instead of issuing waivers to districts that wanted to start in early-mid August, all districts must now start no sooner than August 27. Why? To save money. Energy costs are expensive! Hmm.. is it really that much hotter on August 10th than the 27th? What'd you save there? $3? So instead of going from early Aug. - May, we will be going from late Aug. - June. Newsflash, Ricky. It's hot in June too.

Not only that, district exams have been pushed back until after the students return from Christmas break. FANTASTIC. District scores are already at 36%, and that's with reviewing for 3 days before the test. Lets see what they look like after having 3 weeks off! Now I must tell you that our district tests are the hardest tests I have ever seen. I go through and work all the problems and on average miss 1-3 problems. It makes the TAKS test look like child's play... which is why we were only 0.5% passing points away from being an "Exemplary" school last year. DAMMIT! It's probably going to be that close again this year.

All of these things affected by one day being taken away from the school week. I'm sure there are pros to the situation, and it may even be fruitful to try it out for a year and see how things turn out. You may be pleasantly surprised. But the agenda here is clear... do this to save money and it has to be good! Our system has lost the notion that their job is to educate students and do what is best for them. And apparently the superintendent and school board in Lancaster have lost their minds. If I taught in that district and this proposal was passed, I'd be looking for a new job... and quick.

Oh yes, and you must go read Mister Teacher's witty and great response to my previous post: "Living in a World of Women."

4 comments:

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