KPS should adopt the four-day school week

Less pain, more gain

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Elliot Russell, Web Editor

It’s fifth-hour and the last day of the week. You fiddle around unproductively, only minutes remaining until the five-day grind meets its end with a timely chime over the intercom as if to signify that “you made it.”

We all know the feeling. How your endurance wanes as you push yourself through school, class after class, day after day. It’s tiresome and leaves some wondering if the way things are set up is really the most effective way to handle education.

Reducing the school week to four days would remedy much of the angst felt by students as well as many issues faced by the district on an administrative level. Students would be given more time to work a part-time job or further develop as a person by doing what they love outside of school. 

Not only would we have an entire day added to the weekend, but students would benefit in a plethora of ways inside of school. 

According to D. Mark Anderson and Mary Beth Walker in their study “Does Shortening the School Week Impact Student Performance? Evidence from the Four-Day School Week,” the results from Colorado public schools that use the four-day week system show an improvement in test scores. While students have a day less of school every week, there is less wasted time and greater productivity with each day in school, making the whole system work more efficiently for everybody.

The attendance of students could improve because of the less arduous task of getting through a four-day week. Students would also have more time outside of school to schedule appointments for doctors, therapists and whatever else they need to get done. This would be a welcome solution for KPS which is a district where, according to the Michigan Department of Education,  26.4% of students are “chronically absent,” or miss at least 10% of school days.

With the implementation of shorter weeks, KPS would become a more attractive district for teachers in the job market. When given the option to work shorter weeks versus your typical five-day workweek, wouldn’t you choose the former? With fewer teachers coming and going, it could put a stop to the shortage of substitute teachers that plagues our district, ending the disruption to the workday of teachers that are made to be stand-in subs.

None of this comes at the cost of in-school quality of life. KPS students are far too used to deficient bathrooms and water fountains in their schools, but what if the four-day school week could somehow fix this as well? Well, luckily for us the four-day school week comes with a solution. 

According to the Education Commission of the States, the new system would reduce district expenses by a whopping 5.42%. While this may sound minuscule, it’s actually rather significant when it comes to the budget of a school district housing around 13 thousand students. Based on the costs expended during the 2019 fiscal year, over $8 million of the $156 million that was spent in total could be put toward improving utilities, classroom materials, or the salaries of teachers rather than things that students don’t even think about, like buses and electricity. If that much money can be redirected into the lives of our students and faculty, then I see no good reason why it shouldn’t be.

All of this comes with a slight catch. In order to meet the required 1,080 instructional hours a year, each school day would need to be extended by at least a half-hour. While making the day longer may sound like a lot for students already struggling to push through, the payoff will be worthwhile. You end up getting 36 more days off a year while still satisfying the state quota. 

If you think that going to school less is, as Baby Boomers put it, a “lazy millennial” idea, then you’d be right. However, what employers are expecting from working adults is changing.

Similar to the changes being made in schools, many workers’ unions are beginning to push for 4-day work weeks. Though not in America, a prime example is Microsoft Japan. Like in schools, the results say it all. Ever since moving to a four-day workweek, their productivity has gone up by 40% and costs have been reduced by 23%. This movement is yet to take hold in the states, but in the meantime, it’s blossoming in parts of Europe and Asia. Noting Generation Z’s affinity for progressivism, it could be here in no time.

The four-day school week is the way of the future. The sooner KPS cashes in on it, the more ahead of the game we will be when it really starts to take hold outside of states like Colorado. It’s an inevitable adjustment that will change the ways we learn in our ever-developing world.