When the new school year kicked off in recent days and weeks, approximately 2,100 schools in 900 U.S. public school districts already have four-day school weeks, according to Oregon State University. It found most are located west of the Mississippi River while Michigan, Kentucky, and Georgia are the only states east of the Mississippi River, where at least some schools have four-day weeks.
Jonathan Butcher, who studies education policy at The Heritage Foundation, tells AFN school leaders should be finding ways to improve student achievement but a four-day week, he says, is not one of them.
“Whatever they do for the school day,” he says, referring to school administrators, “it should be to get students ahead and certainly back to where they were before the pandemic, although those places in terms of achievement were not even that strong.”
Citing a related news article, Butcher says one reason stated is to attract more teachers which he says is a terrible reason to shrink the school week.
“You need to be changing school policy,” he tells AFN, “because it is the most effective way to get students ahead."
In a Texas public school district, San Elizario, Fox News affiliate Fox10 reported the school district began the four-day week this year by dropping Mondays off the school calendar.
“It's a mental health component for us," the district superintendent, Dr. Jeannie Meza-Chavez, said.
Farther down the story, Fox 10 found an education researcher who said student achievement drops gradually, year after year, in schools that have moved to a four-day week.
According to a related CBS news article, some schools are now offering fee-based child care on the dropped school day.
“We are at a point right now where they are achieving at – I mean, historic lows, frankly – based on the nation's most recent report card,” Butcher warns. “Everything that schools should be doing right now should be an absolute urgent action to help kids recover what they lost."
At the same time some schools are reducing class hours, schools are also reporting high absentee rates among students. Depression, anxiety, transportation issues, and illness are among the listed reasons, according to an Associated Press story.
Butcher, aware of the absentee problem, says teachers are also not showing up to their classrooms more often, too.
Our country's public schools, he concludes, are facing some "fundamental" issues that must be addressed and fixed.