The article we’re going to link to at the end of this post is from the Des Moines Register, generally regarded as a strong newspaper. The author, Staci Hupp, is a former education reporter for the Indianapolis Star who did an admirable job covering education issues while here in Indiana. (Both are Gannett publications, but we’ll save the fate of newspapers for another day.)
Staci writes a thorough story explaining why an Iowa school district wants a waiver to go to a four-day school week. Money is driving the move, with past questionable budgets and a bookkeeping error putting the district in financial trouble.
While saving money is good, this isn’t the proper route. The absolute most important two sentences of this story are the last two (at least in the online version; we’re sure the research box was a more prominent sidebar in print). They read:
"Students in Asia and Europe typically attend school an average of 220 days a year. The U.S. average is 180 days, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures."
We can’t afford less classroom time. We’re already falling behind the rest of the world in educational achievement, particularly in the math and science areas.
Iowa, and Indiana, are at that 180-day figure. There are several bills in the Indiana General Assembly that, while not taking the four-day-a-week approach, would also dilute the education effort. The focus should be on more dollars to the classroom, expanding school choice and more. Instead, we’re fighting back gimmicks that would serve no useful purpose and, in fact, prove detrimental to our competitiveness and our young people’s futures.
Here’s the Iowa story. Read to the end as it also references a previous IU study that disputes the potential savings.