By Tony Farkas
Going to school as a young pup a couple of years ago, there always were times I wanted to go home. Sometimes, in my senior year, I did stay home, since I was finishing my high schooling while working a full-time job.
Heck, I even want to play hooky from work on occasion, having been doing this for more years than I care to relate.
My problem back then was that I was bored, but that’s just me. Even so, I noticed how much effort the teachers put into their work to get me smarter than I was.
In trying to keep that effort alive in the current millennium, there is an effort aimed at teacher retention in East Texas, one that I’m not convinced has merit.
In our area, Apple Springs and Centerville have adopted the new calendar, and it currently is in use. Corrigan-Camden, Jasper and Shepherd have approved the change, and Groveton will evaluate it in the next school year beginning in August.
Arguments on both sides can be compelling.
For parents, shorter weeks can mean ease of making appointments and more time with their children, even though extracurricular activities such as sports and band won’t change. For some, though, there will be issues and expenses with day care, particularly for the younger students.
The kids, of course, will most always choose less days. That’s par for the course; I would even go so far as to say that the school isn’t responsible for daycare; that’s the purview of the parents.
The underlying reasons that school districts have given for the change, though, deal with teachers, their needs and how that relates to the district.
Teachers are finding it difficult to deal with the requirements of the profession, what with all the educational mandates from every level, and when that is combined with what is viewed as low pay, having to work late nights and on weekends for things as simple as planning doesn’t seem worth it.
Smaller school districts having to deal with teacher recruitment and retention need some sort of incentive to get good teachers not only hired, but willing to stay. As many of the superintendents who have presented this plan to their respective boards have said, it will make the smaller schools competitive in hiring.
Nothing wrong with that, either.
The one thing I haven’t heard much of is how this will affect students’ learning, other than passing remarks on how more time can be spent on individual subjects and attendance is expected to improve.
However, the remote learning required during the COVID pandemic had a negative effect on proficiency; most boards agreed that face-to-face learning, and more of it, was necessary to improve student rankings in relation to STAAR tests.
In other states, such as Nevada and New Mexico, that have adopted four-day weeks, studies have shown that scores have taken a slight hit. However, these plans are in their infancy, and there’s no real data.
I applaud the educational system for looking for answers, and as long as a complete education is the end result for our kids, that’s great.
It will take the passage of time, though, to see if this becomes the educational panacea it’s expected to be.