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

AlterNet:

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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