“TGIF! Thank goodness it’s Friday!”
Many of you take this mantra into the last day of the school or work week to remind you that the weekend is almost here. But for one tiny school district in Texas, “TGIT” is the new slogan for many of the students and staff.
According to the Texas Tribune, Olfen Independent School District made history last month by being the first in the state to implement a four-day school week. Gabriel Zamora, the Superintendent of this kindergarten-through-eighth grade district outside of San Angelo, suggested the change after the Legislature redefined the requirements for a school year in Texas. What was once regarded as 180 days of instruction is now defined as 75,600 minutes of instruction.
To meet these requirements, Olfen ISD will hold classes on 160 days for the 2016-2017 school year, with each school day lengthened by 25 minutes. Students with unsatisfactory grades are required to show up on Fridays to receive additional tutoring, while students with passing grades have the option to stay home.
Will Olfen’s new four-day school week set a precedent for other school districts to follow? Let’s consider the pros and cons of making Friday classes optional.
- Rewards and Incentives Giving students with good grades the choice to show up on Fridays rewards them for being studious. It also provides an extra incentive for students who are struggling in their classes to study even harder to earn a day off.
- More One-on-One Learning Students who must show up for tutoring on Fridays will have a lower student-to-teacher ratio in the classroom. This allows them to ask more questions and get more face time with the instructor in order to master the information.
- Increased Productivity Forbes contributor Peggy Drexler said it best: When there’s less time to work, there’s less time to waste. Knowing that they have one less day to complete their homework or project can motivate students to be more productive, as they most likely will not want to do schoolwork on their day off.
- Take It Easy! Optional Friday classes would allow eligible students to spend a day relaxing, working extra hours at their after-school jobs, traveling, volunteering or exploring other hobbies and interests.
- Longer School Days In order to meet the minute requirements for a school year, nixing Friday classes lengthens the duration of each school day. Trying to teach new concepts to sleepy or cranky students, as you can imagine, is almost impossible.
- Less Time for Extracurriculars More time in the classroom pushes back practice and meeting times for after-school sports and other extracurricular activities. This gives students (and their coaches or leaders) less daylight, less motivation, and less time practicing, creating, volunteering, etc.
- Increased Childcare Costs While some stay-at-home parents may revel in the extra time they get to spend with their kids on Fridays, some working parents would have to shell out extra money for a childcare center or babysitter for their no-class-on-Friday kids.
- Pay Cuts for Hourly Workers According to a report by CreditDonkey, hourly workers “take the biggest hit” from four-day work weeks. Staff who are paid by the hour, including cafeteria workers, bus drivers and custodians, could see a pay cut by up to 20%. Such a significant pay decrease may make it difficult for these hardworking individuals’ to make ends meet.
So, where do you stand? Does your school district already have a four-day school week in place? If not, would you like to see a four-day school week? Let us know in the comments below!