Can a four-day school week really save money?

March 16, 2010

Cash-strapped school districts are proposing to compress five-day school weeks into four as a way to save costs.  Gretchen Hamel, executive director of Public Notice, challenges this notion in an OpEd released Monday:

An overweight person can shed pounds by cutting off a limb. An overspending school district can cut costs by eliminating a school day from the week. But both solutions are unnecessary fixes to the problems: there are far better ways to tackle bloat.

This proposal and others – like increasing taxes and delaying refund checks to taxpayers – could be the first glimmers of a disturbing trend to come.

Government made mistakes.  Politicians spent more than they had.  Now, instead of correcting the problem by taking power away from themselves through spending cuts, politicians are passing the burden of their mistakes onto taxpayers.

Not only is this unfair and sure to build on the public’s dissatisfaction with government, it does nothing to address the root causes of our budget problems.  As Hamel explains in regard to the four-day school week proposals:

State governments, local governments, and even school districts are chronic over spenders. Between 2000 and 2007, average per pupil spending increased 13 percent after inflation. The Department of Education estimates schools spend more than $10,000 per pupil each year, and some studies suggest these figures grossly underestimate public education’s true per pupil costs.

The systems in our country that require real reform will remain broken, so long as politicians’ proposed “solutions” are mere Band Aids to allay immediate symptoms.

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3 Responses to Can a four-day school week really save money?

  1. Leaving this article gender neutral, while it may be well-intended, leaves out serious consequences of these policy decisions on men and women. “Parents” in many respects continue to be code for “women.” The impact of 4 day work weeks will be to force many employed women either into lower paid, more flexible jobs or out of the workforce altogether. In a sense, this is playing “chicken” with our children’s education and well being. Women will generally cave first. This will in turn reinforce to girls and boys that women are responsible for the welfare of children and community and men are free to make choices based solely on money. I’d love to be proven wrong by men.

  2. Leaving this article gender neutral, while it may be well-intended, leaves out serious consequences of these policy decisions on men and women. “Parents” in many respects continue to be code for “women.” The impact of 4 day work weeks will be to force many employed women either into lower paid, more flexible jobs or out of the workforce altogether. In a sense, this is playing “chicken” with our children’s education and well being. Women will generally cave first. This will in turn reinforce to girls and boys that women are responsible for the welfare of children and community and men are free to make choices based solely on money. I’d love to be proven wrong by men.

  3. Leaving this article gender neutral, while it may be well-intended, leaves out serious consequences of these policy decisions on men and women. “Parents” in many respects continue to be code for “women.” The impact of 4 day work weeks will be to force many employed women either into lower paid, more flexible jobs or out of the workforce altogether. In a sense, this is playing “chicken” with our children’s education and well being. Women will generally cave first. This will in turn reinforce to girls and boys that women are responsible for the welfare of children and community and men are free to make choices based solely on money. I’d love to be proven wrong by men.

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