Don’t be fooled by 4-day justification


While relaxing with my spouse last Sunday evening, listening to some jazz music, enjoying a favorite beverage, I reached across the coffee table to grab an old favorite book, then flipped to a random page – as I have done countless times before – when, curiously, an aging faded yellow newspaper clipping hidden between its pages slipped to the floor. I scooped it up.

It was titled “Ann gives directives for the new year.”

Although dated Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1997, it was timeless New Years’ advice from the popular syndicated columnist Ann Landers. It had also appeared in the China Post; a weekly English translation of a popular local daily newspaper published in Taipei, Taiwan where I had been residing and making my living as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher at the time. I enthusiastically re-read it.

“Share your experience, and offer support. Young people need role models,” was the quote that stood out more than any other morsel of sage advice given the current circumstances that I am about to share with you.

What I’m going to say next, however, may well put me in the rifle crosshairs of those who desire to silence me. My confession will stir up animosity, or – worse – possibly even thoughts of retribution against me.

It all boils down to this: Sweet Home School District No. 55 is once again intent on recommending its plans for a four-day school week for the upcoming 2013/2014 school year.

“‘Why the fuss?’ You ask?” Well, talk to any classified employee, almost every licensed teacher, most coaches, all classroom instructional assistants, community leaders, parents, and . . . yes . . . even students, and you will discover that they agree Sweet Home’s children are being shortchanged.

That’s right! They are not getting an equal shot at their K-12 public education! Nope. They’re not getting a fully funded five-day-week kindergarten-through-12th-grade education, the kind you and I received growing up in Sweet Home.

I was compelled to write this letter to the editor because a student of mine at Sweet Home Junior High responded to the question I posed, “What are you going to do for your four-day weekend?” with: “Mr. Buzzard, I don’t like four-day weekends. They’re boring. I’d rather be at school.”

Despite all the unfounded rhetoric that we have been spoon-fed regarding how the four-day school week is supposedly “better” for students and staff, please don’t buy into it. The better argument is that students need to be in school five days or more a week. They need their equal shot at a great public education. My student quoted above also happens to be a foster child who needs the consistent routine, structure and reinforcement of skill sets that we provide. All Sweet Home students deserve equal K-12 opportunities whether they’re provided by Oregon’s wealthier school districts or from the neighboring competition (i.e. Greater Albany, Lebanon, or Sweet Home Charter Schools). Enough said.

Able to read, write, and do arithmetic thanks to Mrs. Widmark, Mr. Rue, Mrs. Miles, Mr. Riggs, and the many dedicated Sweet Home School District administrators, teachers, and ESPs (Education Support Professionals) who influenced my early life and education.

Allen Lloyd Buzzard

University of Oregon:

M.Ed. 1999; B.A. 1991

SHHS Huskies:

Class of ‘83; Josai University High School: 1982-83 year exchange

Sweet Home Junior High:

seventh and eighth grades

Foster Elementary School:

fifth and sixth grades

Pleasant Valley Elementary School: fourth grade

Please write your school board members and Oregon legislator(s) soon and demand they fund K-12 Education to QEM (Quality Education Model) standards. Thank you.

Allan L Buzzard