Four or more?

Examining opposing views on four day weeks
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Photo Illustration: Four day weeks have become popular among schools around the nation. Many schools eliminate Friday as a way to make this happen.
Photo Illustration: Four day weeks have become popular among schools around the nation. Many schools eliminate Friday as a way to make this happen.
Liberty Maldonado-Cowan
For

The school bell rings. Hallways begin to flood with students. Pickup & bus lines swell. Schools out, “thank god it’s Friday”. At last, you get to enjoy your two days away from school. But what if you have an extended weekend? 

Not just Labor Day or Presidents Day which are annual holidays, but a three-day weekend all school year-round. Which theoretically, would result in a four-day school week. Not only is this exciting, but there are also countless benefits that make this schedule the way to go. 

When a school district or campus decides to change its schedule to a four-day week, as opposed to the traditional five-day week, they are required to lengthen regular school hours to meet the state’s educational time requirements

According to the House Bill (HB) 2610 FAQ page, the Texas Legislature requires schools to provide 75,600 minutes of instructional time. Therefore by shortening the week, an eight-hour school day ends up being approximately eight and a half to nine hours long. 

There is zero factual evidence suggesting poor academic performance as a result of the condensed week.

By granting students an extra day away from their studies & classroom-related tasks they have more time to recover mentally and avoid cognitive fatigue. 

In other words, the odds of adolescent scholars becoming overworked is highly unlikely. This is significant to teenagers like me as 73% of us struggle with a dysfunctional sleep schedule. Coincidentally, a few of the contributing factors just so happen to be anxiety and homework. By having a three-day weekend away from studies it is possible that this percentage can be reduced. 

The compressed week can also be used to the coaches’ and athletes’ advantage by proactively scheduling tournaments and practice during their off days, which in turn reduces the amount of sports-related absences among students. 

As mentioned previously, there isn’t any evidence broad enough to prove any reduced nor improved scholastic performance; however, the correlation is obvious.When students are spending more time in the classroom, rather than being out for a tournament, they’re more likely to better grasp content and not miss any key pillars in their learning. 

Similarly, teachers will also benefit in some of the same ways students will. In addition to having a better balance between work, sleep, and life, teachers can utilize their time off to prioritize lesson planning, grades and so much more. 

With that being said it is unlikely all schools will switch to a four-day week schedule. However, with new efforts to save money and retain teacher positions, there is no telling what the future holds for the schools of America.

Against

The school bell rings. Hallways begin to flood with students. Pickup and bus lines swell as resounding sighs of relief fill the air. It’s Friday. At last, you get to enjoy two days away from school. No more. No less.

Is it so wrong to prefer this commonplace system?

Commonplace only for us at Texas High School, of course. In other parts of the country, many schools have adopted a four-day school week and are trying out the radical new system.

Proponents of this system argue that it allows students to have more free time and reduce the pressure and workload on students who are already stretched thin, and as someone who falls under that umbrella, I can wholeheartedly say that this sounds like a dream. 

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what it is: a dream.

Although admirable, it’s an idealistic solution, with those proponents missing a lot of flaws in the four-day week. Fewer days to cover the same material could mean that students ended up taking a lot more work home with them to catch up on lessons in order to be ready for standardized tests at the end of the year, like AP exams or tests for dual credit courses. 

While it can be argued that four-day weeks often imply longer school days in order to fit in said lessons, doesn’t that invalidate the entire purpose of shortening the week in the first place? Not to mention that these hypothetical lengthened hours wouldn’t even include the extra time already added to Texas High’s average school day due to CTE classes.

Fewer work days would also mean that many of our school’s support staff could miss out on an extra day of wages because there would be no need for their services.

What about the plight of parents?

 

Parents who work inflexible jobs would be forced to figure out child care for an extra day, especially if they were younger. Unfortunately, child care is hard to come by, and there are very few reasonably-priced options that people can afford to keep their kids safe while they work. Meanwhile, students who benefit from free meals at school might not have the same access on the fifth day of the week, which would have obvious negative consequences. 

In fact, the entire concept of a four-day week was proposed after COVID in an attempt to keep the increasing flow of teachers leaving due to low wages and overall burn out. It’s a short-term solution at best, used to mask deeper issues within the school system. We should be working on getting to the root of these issues before implementing an entirely new system.

We could even go one step further and argue the question: When does it end? Won’t we eventually get tired of school after just four days, then three, then two, and so on? Humans – especially students – will always demand more, which could ultimately be to our detriment if our education suffers as a result. 

This isn’t to say that the four-day week is inherently set up for failure or hasn’t worked well for other districts. As one of many highschool students that has suffered from burnout, this system is one that I would initially jump right into without giving a second thought. But once taking a look at the bigger picture, it’s clear to see that, within context, the 4-day week can easily be used as a crutch.

In other words, the problem doesn’t fully lie within the four-day week, but rather in the lack of ability of our school district and perhaps others at the moment to support it. It’s great on paper, but simply put, it’s an idealist’s playground, ultimately posing more problems than it solves.

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About the Contributors
Kunan Anjum, Staff writer
Kunan Anjum is a first-year staff writer for THS Publications. Apart from newspaper, he is involved in several other groups including Robotics Club and ASPIRE. Formerly a competitive tennis player for Texas High School, Anjum has moved on to other hobbies like hitting the gym, listening to music, and walking his dog. 
Oviya Justin, Copy Editor
Oviya Justin had always dreamed of being Copy Editor her second year of newspaper. It was a bucket list item only slightly below meeting Zendaya and being the first woman to walk on the moon, Dr. Pepper in hand. Aside from newspaper, she is Vice President of Mu Alpha Theta and T-High ASPIRE, a member of NHS, ITS, Calculus Club, Latin Club and the Superintendent Student Advisory Team and a Junior Lieutenant in drill team. She enjoys painting, reading, listening to music and New Girl. Justin has a heavy course load and plans to sink further and further into a state of insanity as her junior year progresses. She’s about as excited for the year ahead as she is to edit every single person’s staff bio.
Liberty Maldonado-Cowan, Social Media Manager
Senior Liberty Maldonado Cowan is going into her third year as a newspaper member with THS Publications and will serve as Social Media Editor. Along with publications, she is involved in Texas HighSteppers, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Student Council and many others. With everything she has on her plate, this year will be stressful, but she plans to manage her time accordingly while still prioritizing this new position of hers. 

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