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Ear to the Ground

More U.S. Schools Moving to 4-Day Week

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Posted on Aug 23, 2011
Flickr / Office of Governor Patrick

In this era of shrinking budgets, an increasing number of American public schools are closing their doors on Fridays. Besides stripping American children of one-fifth of their time available to learn, the shift is forcing working parents to seek expensive childcare while school employees see their pay reduced—or their jobs eliminated.

The trend is likely supported by tax-resistant businessmen like Harvey Golub, former CEO of American Express and an executive committee member of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who asked in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Monday: “Do we really need ... an education department at all?”

One wonders whether depriving children of an education is what President Obama has in mind when he periodically calls on the American public to accept a “shared sacrifice” for the sake of economic recovery. —ARK


I doubt there’s any student in the world who would object to having Fridays off. But when it comes to policy, the increasing number of American schools moving to a four-day week is not necessarily news to jump for joy about. In fact, it’s potentially devastating for parents, school workers and students all left in the lurch by budget cuts. And it’s happening more and more, as state and local budgets shrink to tiny levels and raising taxes on the wealthy is somehow considered verboten.

... One of the groups hardest hit is working parents, who have to scramble for childcare on the extra day, an extra-tough task during the recession when many may need the time to work or look for work.

Another group hit hard? Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, maintenance staff and others whose smaller work-weeks may in fact be the main reason districts “save” money on the four-day week: they’re gaining extra pockets in their budgets by cutting these staff members salaries by up to a fifth. This is hardly a rejuvenating measure, and combined with the hit to parents this loss of employment could certainly put a dent in small communities’ financial well-being.

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By SoTexGuy, August 25, 2011 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Public schools shouldn’t be about providing child care in any case.. I’m sympathetic to what the ‘author’ (TD Editor?) is saying overall but feel the problem lies with the worker-bee system we have.. three shifts per day.. shrinking social services, full-time employment that will not support a family..

The Public Education system is being demonized because it is a huge fountain of money the private Corporatists want.. that’s not to say it’s perfect.. yet stop and look at how much of what is the source of complaint in public school systems is the result of the new demands we place upon it.

Things like transportation, second language programs, food programs and yes.. day care.


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By kmdyson, August 24, 2011 at 10:09 pm Link to this comment

unbelievable…berniem is absolutely correct…too much education would surely make people question what this group in Washington is doing to society.

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By Miko, August 24, 2011 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Public “education” in the United States is mainly about
mental manipulation in support of the status quo. 
Contrary to ARK’s claim, one fewer day per week of
mandatory propaganda means one more day per week that
children have a chance to actually learn something.

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By Robespierre115, August 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

Here in California they are already planning to privatize even the public library system. But since we live in post-modern, post-ideaological times, people just march along.

The light of Athens should guide us once more!

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By anaman51, August 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Our founding fathers determined that the hoi polloi only needed to be educated to the extent that they could perform manual labor and operate simple machinery. This only required a minimal education.

A further, better education was available only to those of means, only to the children of those wealthy enough to send them to college. These chosen few were perceived as the next leaders of industry and the nation, while the greater proportion were relegated to working to death before their time.

This is the American Hierarchy, in which a better class of humans is meant to live a better class of life, and everyone else is here to serve them in some manner. The idea was to keep the masses nice and dumb, so they could be more easily controlled. Works like a charm.

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By TDoff, August 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

Not to fret. Once again ‘god’, mysteriously as always, worked things out for the best.

Just imagine if the whole nation were employed, and kids were being given every Friday off, how many parents would be going nuts trying to get time off from work every Friday. So their lil’ darlings wouldn’t be running around loose all day each Friday, doing dope and shooting-up the neighborhood.

But hey, as it turned out we’re OK, almost no one is working, so there are lots of parents free to babysit the neighborhood kids on their days off and put some reality in their educations.

Like how to survive without jobs, money, roofs over their heads, and no self-esteem, on the streets of The Greatest Nation On Earth.

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By Rich Angelos, August 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Since most time in school is spent with teachers repeating the same lectures year after year a resource Khan Academy with over 2000 teaching videos posted for free sure makes sense

The fact is that we send kids to school for the long hours and 5 days a week for the convienence of employers not because it increases learning

Interesting how no one seems to talk about how to implement all the techniques discussed in books like Superlearning 2000.

Which is really the biggest problem in America, the unwillingness to actually tackle hard problems that don’t produce 10 second sound bytes for politicians.

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By Morpheus, August 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

nothing less than the decline of a nation. While the people stand around and do nothing.

Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( )

First it will cheer you up, then it will make you angry.


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By kerryrose, August 24, 2011 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

The undereducated will make no fuss about unions and feel deserved of a reduced minimum wage.

The elite will continue to go to private schools and take charge of the undereducated masses.

That’s what this is all about.

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By Awi, August 24, 2011 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

The four day school week is deeply unfortunate and is a harbinger of the end of quality public education.  The American People generally do not comprehend the enormity of this change and the likely consequences, especially high priced privatization of schools.  The American duopoly is hell bent on fundamentalist capitalist solutions.  The propaganda machine aimed at demonizing teachers appears to be working.  People are acting against the own best interest, and doing so with active vigor.  This is not change, this is purposeful chaos designed to achieve an economic end.  The nave’s are earning their status.

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By Anarcissie, August 24, 2011 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

The Department of Education is not the same as the education industry; the education industry is not the same as education; education is not learning.  As our large institutions fail, it’s time to start replacing them with autonomous institutions not dependent on elites.

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By gstoddard, August 24, 2011 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

These are crazy making times when there is a need for more effective education
for the children, our schools are being sacrificed while we continue our wars,
subsidize the highly profitable oil companies, protect the wealth of the wealthy,
and continue to enlarge the growing disparity of wealth.

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By berniem, August 24, 2011 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

And the dumbing down of Amerika proceeds apace!

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