Four-day week deserves serious study

A four-day school week sounds like a rotten idea.

That’s our initial reaction. Too many students already skip too much school. The kids are already off so often that, if we didn’t stop to actually count, it would seem like it was about one day a week.

As is evident from the report on page 12 in today’s paper, not too many people in the crowd that showed up at Monday’s school board meeting think it’s a good idea. We haven’t really heard from anyone who likes it. We’re definitely in the “don’t do it” column right now.

But before we all draw a final line in the sand, we need to remember that outside-the-box solutions often produce a little initial discomfort. And, once in a while, a seemingly crazy idea can be a good one.

The four-day school week is a cost-saving proposal, and Supt. Don Schrader is already convinced it can actually improve academic achievement, the most important goal our schools can pursue.

He’s already lived it as a parent and as an educator. Schrader says he didn’t like the four-day -week concept when he was first exposed to it, but he thinks differently now. He says the results in Glide, where he was a parent and eventually superintendent, convinced him it was worthwhile.

That community actually fired its school board for trying to go back to a five-day week.

So, before we get out the tar and feathers, let’s give the idea a fair hearing and see if it might work. If our School Board chooses this path in the end, we should be ready to give it a chance.

On the face of it, we agree with the concerns and questions reported in our story.

In general, it seems more positive for youngsters to spend five days a week in classrooms, learning important things from the people who have dedicated their lives to imparting that knowledge.

The criticisms voiced by people who are concerned about more than just their paychecks deserve our serious attention. Many of these work with local kids every day and know them well.

But at the same time, though it seems counter-intuitive, let’s not let our preconceived notions interfere with our ability to study evidence to the contrary and our ability to think critically and change our minds.

Schrader’s given us some good reasons to at least consider the four-day week.

Let’s give it time and serious attention, research the pros and cons and how it’s worked in other districts. Let’s factor in how our district is similar or differs from those where the four-day week been successful.

Then let’s make an educated, informed decision.