Change. Is it really worth it?

April 4, 2012
The teacher told my class that Katie was in a coma. She had skipped school that day to go four-wheeling and had somehow run, head first, into a tree going forty miles per hour. Her parents had come home to find her lying on the floor with a pool of blood surrounding her. All this could have been avoided if Katie had just been where she was supposed to be that day. School.
Some schools have recently decided to cut back on school days in order to save money. Now, instead of having school for five days a week, these schools will be in session for just four. A lot of people, particularly students and teachers, were very happy about this change. I, however, wonder if this idea will really benefit schools in the long run.
One of the biggest issues people have with the four day school week is childcare. What happens to the families in which both parents work full time? Or, better yet, what are single parents going to do? Marty Strange with Rural School and Community Trust says, “You’re likely to see a lot more kids staying home alone. That only leads to trouble.” . By leaving kids home alone, more accidents like Katie’s are likely to occur. One option for families is to hire babysitters. One school in Minnesota is actually training its high school students to babysit but, sadly, many families can’t afford to hire the outside help.
Not only can families not afford babysitters, but many can’t even afford food! For many children school is the only place they get to eat filling, nutritious meals. According to WebMD, 1 out of 4 children in America doesn’t get enough to eat. By changing to a four day schedule, children are losing two meals that they would have been able to eat if school had been in session.
To make up for the lost day, school days will go longer. For most children, sitting in class for seven hours is challenging. Adding another hour to the day is asking a lot of students, particularly those in elementary school. Many parents are concerned that eight hours of school a day is just too much. In addition to this, schools are shortening lunch and time in between classes as well. Parents are also concerned that their children won’t be able to enjoy extracurricular activities. Marc Egan, with the National School Board Association, says, “Some people caution an eight hour day is already though on younger kids,”. Adding extracurriculars onto that is extremely stressful for students and parents as well.
According to the National Center on Time and Learning, the four day plan is only going save about 5% of operating costs. There has got to be a better way to save a mere 5% of the money schools spend. Many experts say that, if anything, American children should be spending more time in school, not less. Time magazine says that in other parts of the world, where students are in school longer, students have regularly had better scores in math, science, and reading. We can’t afford to miss any more school than we already are. Knowledge is what gives us hope for a brighter future and a better tomorrow. How are we going to achieve that by missing even more school?
Katie, the girl who decided to skip school to go four-wheeling, is still alive today. In fact, against all odds she is perfectly healthy and has fully recovered from her accident. The thought of what could have happened to her, all alone in the woods with no one to help her, still scares me. Imagine how many more accidents like this will occur with an entire day every week for children to go unsupervised. So is it really worth it?





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