…in the punchbowl


A four day school week?

Filed under: punchbowl — Matt @ 22:19

Brandon over at ChronicleWest shares the little tidbit that our hometown schools are facing a 4-day school week. I’d like to write a more coherent, thought-out companion to his entry, but words are failing me at this point. The state legislature spent time futzing around with the same-sex marriage “issue” while this is going on? Unreal.

Oh, don’t worry. They’ll still go to class the same number of hours, just over fewer days. Does anyone really believe that results are directly proportional only to the number of classroom hours? Does anyone remember how attentive they were come last period? Of a school day of traditional duration, no less?

But it’ll save money on fuel! I’m not convinced. Sure, you’re spending less on school bus fuel and maintenance up front. But you’ll spend more on things like lighting, heating, and cooling. Might want to examine the effects the later and/or earlier hours will have on traffic accidents, too.

Classroom hours would likely be reduced for student-athletes, who would now have to leave before school ends even more often to make their games.

If the Soda trustees (and their colleagues in Grace and North Gem) really want to consider ways to save money long-term, how about trimming some of the fat in the administration and merge the three school districts together? Build a modern, energy-efficient high school instead of the three currently in use, the newest of which is at best 35 years old?

No, wait. That might be a thoughtful approach! Worse, it would require us to lose control of some of our little kingdom.

(I wish I felt I was less on the mark with this than I do….)



  1. Well, you are on the mark. I think I’m going to have to write about this. Education is a thing near and dear to my heart. The whole ‘county high school’ thing is an old dead arguement in Caribou County. When the Grace and North Gem folks wanted it, Soda wouldn’t hear of it; when Soda wanted it, Grace and North Gem wouldn’t give up thier anonymity. I remember looking at my parent’s year book when Soda and Grace played football with the likes of Paris, Montpielier, Lava and McCammon High schools. Worked for them I guess.

    And Soda high (the newest of the three) was built in 1964 or so. People pretend like they care about education, but they don’t really. I commented on Shrand’s blog that I can certainly see a difference in the education my sister recieved and what we recieved. She graduated last May from Soda and is sharp as a tack and will be successful with her life, but I can see it when I ask her certain questions and get disbelieving answers.

    Where is Emore Bordelon when we need his type.

    Comment by David — 2006.03.13 @ 13:23

  2. I guess I just felt behind the curve a bit when it came to so many of my college peers. Most of this was MY fault, because I was a bonehead in highschool. I ditched classes and skipped homework and seemed preoccupied with nurturing delusions of becoming a rock star. Egads! But I was also nearly convinced by persons who will remain nameless here that “College wasn’t for me,” that I should consider working for Mark III or Kerr McGee.

    That aside, I realize this is a much more complicated issue than what I made it out to be: the silly lawmakers not valuing education. And while I still think that is true to a degree, there are a number of factors that play into it. Is there a general malaise, I wonder, when it comes to public education? Or even cynacism on behalf of some parents and most certainly the teachers who are underpaid and overworked? I think we all sense something amiss in the 4-day school week. I can’t articulate it. I tried via the theme of immersion, but it’s beyond that. Matt’s close here. The hours are the same, sure. But that doesn’t square. There are other kinds of expenses that aren’t being factored into the balance sheet. Again, I come back to the corporate model: fine for assembly lines, poor for education. I’m at a loss…

    Comment by Brandon — 2006.03.14 @ 21:53

  3. Maybe it’s because a 4-day school week feels like trying to have a baby in a month by spreading the work among nine pregnant women. Some things cannot be compressed; they are serial in nature.

    I think the brain and learning is a lot like muscles and exercise. Muscles need down time to repair and build; the brain needs down time to absorb and sort out what it’s picked up. Trying to do accomplish more in a single day will just wear the brain out.

    Comment by Matt — 2006.03.14 @ 23:04

  4. Matt, I love your analogy r/t the serial nature of educational progress. I completely agree, and while I don’t profess to have all the answers, I don’t think the 4-day week is it either. There are statistics somewhere out there that support the idea of the brain “getting full” after a certain amount of time… and while I’m not sure what time frame that is, I can tell ya it’s already overshot in the course of a normal schoolday as is.

    And I agree with you too, Dave, r/t the quality of education and its decline over the years everywhere, not just in Soda. I see a difference in the education I got as compared with my brother, too – seems we got a better taste for critical thinking in addition to being taught by teachers who truly loved their subject matter.

    But we can’t just blame the educators. The way I see it, part of the problem these days is plain old parental non-involvement. This seems like a no-brainer – but as a parent of a school-age child (albeit early school-age), I see evidence of that more than I’d like to. Maybe it’s because we’re busier, maybe it’s because we’re lazier… but parents are flat out not doing their part to help their kids succeed in school. To spend time helping out in Hayley’s classroom and seeing what an incredible aptitude disparity there is in just one class is a sobering thing, and it bugs me that society is so quick to pin blame on the educational system. Hayley’s teacher alone has to cater to every student in that range, coddling the ones who’re tagging along at the back of the pack learning their ABC’s, while keeping the ones at the head of the class who are reading at a 6th grade level stimulated. (I’m not exaggerating, that is the true range in her class.) Not an enviable position – talk about a rock and a hard place.

    And you know, while I’m ranting… (I should be doing this on my own blog) – it’s puzzling that in our society, the occupations that have potential for maximum social impact (i.e. schoolteachers, police & other public safety workers, healthcare grunts like me, et al.) are among the most underpaid.

    Comment by Erica — 2006.03.19 @ 15:58

  5. Erica, Matt, Brandon

    It pleases me to hear that teachers are valued by some. After seven years with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game I decided to take concerns for education back to the source. I’m currently in my third year as a high school science teacher in the small Idaho town of Melba.

    If you really want to know why I gave up a trip through upper academia (I was headed to grad school when I made the switch) read The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan.

    Critical thinking is quickly disappearing from our nation and vow to not let it go quietly into the night!

    BTW: Nice to see you all again. You really don’t want to know how I’m picturing all of you.

    Comment by Chad Rawlins — 2006.04.10 @ 4:14

  6. Almost forgot:

    Several small schools in Oregon have been in 4-day weeks for a few years now. They all love it. The biggest money savings (and it does save money) suprisingly comes from not having to hire substitute teachers as often. Regular teachers have one weekday to take care of normal, personal errands. Additionally, it is easier to mentally withstand four days than five. Teaching is often grueling. With a four day week, teachers are less likely to ask for sick days or personal leave.

    There are downsides, primarily for extra-curricular activities. Suprisingly grades and test scores don’t vary significantly between the two models. (At least for the few schools we’ve talked too).

    Gotta sleep now. I’ll definitely be checking in on you guys later.

    Comment by Chad Rawlins — 2006.04.10 @ 4:19

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