Students and families need more class time, not less

24 August 2011 | 0

This year, one out of every four South Dakota students will go to school only 4 days a week due to budget constraints. It looks like the evidence both for and against shorter school weeks is pretty slim, but it strikes me as a move in the wrong direction. Ignoring the relationship between class time and educational outcomes, my secondary concern is how this impacts working families. As the parent of a school age child, I am (along with my wife and my daughter’s mother) constantly negotiating daycare, play dates and extracurricular enrichment activities. In addition to the fact that I can afford those opportunities for her, I’m lucky to have a flexible-enough work schedule that I can cover for days my daughter has off of school (or is too sick to go to daycare). I’m guessing many school districts facing budget constraints are not in particularly wealthy neighborhoods, so the families most impacted by the dedicated childcare time school days provide will be the ones to be hardest hit. Yes, we must think of the children when we make decisions like this, but we must also think about the families and communities that are affected when we force the creation of an entire generation of under-educated latchkey kids.

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