I heard a story on the radio yesterday about the rising number of schools in the US opting for a four day school week because of shrinking budgets. The rational is that cutting the school week from 5 to 4 days can save a hefty chunk of money. Well, yeah, but should that be the solution? Should schools buckle under the “who cares about education” paradigm that rules our nation and succumb to the further dumbing down of the USA?
Seems to me we need MORE education in this country, not less. (And if the ignorant trolls assaulting the blogosphere are any indication of the level of idiocy many US citizens suffer from, we need a LOT MORE education.)
The National Conference of State Legislators reported on this phenomenon recently. Their report reads in part as follows:
With strapped state budgets and alluring promises of significant reductions in overhead and transportation costs, the four-day school week has been an increasingly attractive option for legislators seeking to cut education costs…For small, remote school districts, instituting a four-day school week may provide considerable savings by reducing transportation, heating, and other overhead costs. Supporters of the shortened week also boast of improved morale and increased attendance (by both students and teachers), open Fridays for sporting events and doctor appointments, and more time to spend with loved ones.
“Increasingly attractive option for legislator seeking to cut education costs”??? Oh, so the rich big wigs who rule the roost find this proposal attractive? Do they assume each home has a June Cleaver-esque housemom to take care of the kids on that 5th day? Do they assume most parents can just opt out of work on that 5th day and maybe take the kids to play a round of golf at the local country club?
And by all means, Fridays should be about sports and appointments and perhaps more time for teen make out sessions. (Is this what thy mean by “more time with loved ones”?). Who needs five days of school with which to become educated??? Kicking around a ball and keeping the medical industrial complex afloat is far more important to our kids’ futures!!! This way, we can fight that dreaded scourge ‘childhood obesity’ in one fell swoop. Friday can become the day to make our kids buy into the false bodily obsessions of our culture as well as the day we help mold them into good consumers of the bio-pharm mentality. Nevermind educating them about the evils of high fructose corn syrup and the way capitalism promotes excessive consumption (of food and everything else)! We don’t want them to THINK after all – that wouldn’t be good for the economy.
If kids were taught to actually think in school, they might begin to recognize the idiotic hypocrisy of a country that has “family values” and “values education” yet puts most of its money towards imperialistic militarism… They might begin to question the fact that education doesn’t seem to be a pressing issue in this presidential campaign. They might learn that the US is abysmally low in education rankings (globally, the US is currently 21st in science and 25th in math). Heck, they might just learn that their brains are more powerful than how they look or what they are able to buy. Now, that wouldn’t be a good thing for corporatist USA at all. Come to think of it, how about swapping weekends with weekdays and going for a 2 day school week? The other days could be used for shopping, seeing films, attending concerts, playing sports, going to the gym, doctor, and dentist, etc. Think of what a boost to the economy this would bring about! Not only would a 2 day school week save money, it might just end our recession!
As for those of you parents who work full time for far less than what the politicians who make these decisions make, well, you might want to voice your belief that education should get more funding than military spending and prison building (2007 marked the first year that California spent more money on building prisons than on education – yeah, cuz who needs to educate the populace when it’s so much easier to just lock ‘em up).
Alas, as my bumper sticker points out, there’s always enough money for war… (and big honking campaign spending and party conventions I might add). As per usual, we are trying to cure the symptom (shrinking education budgets) rather than the cause (a corporatist government that doesn’t care much – if at all – about education).
If this 4 day a week schedule becomes the norm, and if school budgets continue to be slashed and burned, it is certainly not the politicians (or their children) who will suffer. Rather, less education and less funding will harm those in our society who can’t afford private schools or high-income neighborhoods, those who are already disenfranchised by our unequal society due to their skin color, their sexuality, their income level, their first language, etc. If ‘public education’ is about trying to educate the entire public, to level the playing field to give everyone equal opportunity, well, we are certainly failing miserably at it!