Illinois House approves 4-day school week

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"Excuse me. If my school moves to a 4-day week, what am I supposed to do while my parents are at work?"

Yesterday, the Illinois House approved a bill that would create a 4-day school week for many Illinois schools. The bill was passed by an 81-21 vote.

What the heck are these people thinking?

I understand that the state and the school systems are in serious financial trouble. I know that very tough decisions have to be made. I also understand that this change would help cut building and busing costs. What I do NOT understand is how anyone could think that this measure would be good for Illinois kids.

Proponents argue that kids will still be in school for the same number of hours because of longer school days and shorter vacations. So are we talking about keeping first graders (who are six and seven years-old) in school from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.? I know a lot of six and seven year-olds and that is a long day for kids that age (or any age really). God help the teacher that is trying to teach math to a bunch of seven year-olds who have been in a classroom for 7 hours already.

And what are kids going to do on the fifth day of the work week when their parents are presumably at work? This measure seems to just put another burden on struggling families. Plus, I worry that it puts kids at risk by leaving them on their own where trouble no doubt awaits.

This is the best solution to the current budget troubles in our schools? It may be an expeditious solution, but it can't be the best we can come up with. In the wake of the House vote, I've yet to read any legitimate reasons why this change would be good for students.

I don't mean to incite panic. This bill has yet to go before the Senate. In its current form, the bill would require public hearings before a school district would make the change. And CPS has said that they are not considering moving to a 4-day school week.

But still. What are we doing here? Any legislation that aims to reform the educational system must be done with the welfare of the students as the main objective. This piece of legislation doesn't seem to do that.

Comments

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  • As an elementary teacher, I'd venture to say most K - 5 students have had it when the bell rings at the end of the day. I can't imagine teaching until 5:00 pm. My students would have shut down long before then.

  • In reply to LittleRunner:

    Well, I know it would be a pain to teach until 5:00pm, but I am thinking it would be better to have a position teaching rather than adding more students per teacher in a class. Just a thought.

  • Illinois is soooooo smart.

  • It gets worse. Combine that with laying off a third of teachers, canceling bus service, doubling class size to 37 students, and you have a real crisis looming. Please contact your state legislators this week to tell them to restore education funding! See my blog post for more: http://marksmithivas.posterous.com/

  • In reply to 1god:

    Thanks for leaving this helpful link Mark.

  • In reply to 1god:

    Well, not to be difficult, but let

  • In reply to ekpaster:

    Thanks for your comment Emily. I came across this article this morning that touches on some of the same points that you are making. http://snurl.com/v1zkp

    I am most troubled by the fact that this legislation seems to be motivated by budgetary concerns instead of the desire to give our kids the best education possible.

    I have yet to read anything about whether anyone has looked into whether a 4-day school week would be good for kids. I've only heard proponents talking about cost-cutting -- not the ways that kids would be impacted.

    What do teachers think? What about child development experts? Proponents say that kids will end up with the same amount of time in school but it seems obvious to me that converting from 5 7-hour days to 4 9-hour days is certainly not the same educational experience.

    It worries me that legislators and school administrators are making education policy without being fully informed about how this change would impact how we educate our kids.

  • Illinois has always been next to last on the list of state support of education. History shows that K-12 education has not been a high priority for our state. It is sobering to know that both GOP and Democratice leadership in Springfield have passed the buck for so so long without "fixing" the challenge of preparing our youngsters for a brighter future. Illinois has failed our students. Society will pay a much higher price and have to build more prisons if things continue as they due.

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