We Need a Four-Day Work Week!

Picture this: dragging yourself back home after what felt like a never-ending Friday filled by schoolwork and extracurriculars, barely managing to do your nightly routine before collapsing on your bed, and unable to even imagine the possibility of doing anything other than sleeping. All this is done, only to wake up the next morning and realize that the mountain of work ahead of you means that, yet again, you will work non-stop this weekend. This is the toll a five-day school week puts on our students. 

In the United States, the average school day is about eight hours long from Monday through Friday. On an average day, students–no matter how groggy–must force themselves to wake up, rush to school, and endure an eight-hour-long school day. However, it does not end there: they must now go to their sports, clubs, lessons, community service work, then do their homework from an innumerable amount of classes. They must do this for five days, holding out for the hope of a weekend; they might get this if they manage to “luck out” of a long assignment due right after the weekend. Even though this takes a hideous toll on students, they must endure. Why? They do so because they have no other option; that is just how the school system is. 

Truly, the five-day work week is not suitable for anyone, no matter how far along they are in their education career. Elementary schoolers to high schoolers can all agree on one thing: this antiquated system is simply not working. Senior Ana Bermudez Rivera brought up how “it feels that there are not nearly enough hours in the weekends since many of us [students] must spend them at work instead of relaxing…it’s almost like we get no break”

Fortunately, the plight of these students has been noticed by some around the world, and action is finally being taken. Dozens of countries have tested and had overwhelmingly positive results with a four-day school week. As stated in the article “Four Countries that Are Embracing—or Experimenting with—the Four-day Workweek” published by the Consumer News and Business Channel (cnbc.com), this program has made countries like South Africa, Belgium, Iceland, and Japan realize that the four-day work week was so promising that they just could not let it go. All these countries have had large pilots of the program, with some developing the indisputable right to four-day workweeks. The program is proving so promising that even certain parts of the United States have already invested in it. 

A National Conference of State Legislature (ncsl.org) article titled “Four-Day School Week Overview” reported that the “best available research indicates that approximately 560 districts in 25 states have one or more schools on a four-day schedule,” with Colorado being an excellent example. Since 1980, Colorado has ensured the best education possible for its residents. They allowed districts to pilot alternative weekly schedules and changed the required school year from 180 days to 1,080 hours. Colorado’s innovative schooling methods have had positive outcomes, with the number of districts with four-day school weeks increasing from 39 to 104 in just eighteen years.

Contrary to popular belief, a shorter week does not mean decreased learning. An article by Education Week (edweek.org) titled “Four Studies to Know on Four-Day School Weeks” said that there are “no significant differences in academic achievement between districts that used five-day schedules and those that used four-day schedules, as long as the districts with shorter weeks maintained a high or medium amount of instructional time for students.” The only data that proves a negative effect on achievement scores from a switch to a four-day school week are those that focus on districts that had the least instructional time after switching. As proven in a nationwide study by the Education Commission of the States, a switch to a four-day school week also means a .4% to 2.5% increase of budget savings. 

Lastly, and most importantly, a switch means increased satisfaction for all. The  Rand website (rand.org) found that a four-day week meant reduced parental stress and improved student mental health, school climate, student attendance, teacher attendance, and behavioral and emotional well-being.