Would a four-day week save schools money?
HOUSTON A three-day weekend could be on the calendar for all Texas students at public schools if one Texas lawmaker has his way. And while parents are mixed on the idea, teachers say it won't help students learn. With funds for public education being cut by state legislators, at least one official is proposing to cut down the school week. Instead of five days, Texas schools would go to a four-day week schedule, with an extra hour of instruction added each day. "I think that you could educate children well in four days," said parent Lara Odgen. "They can't handle 10 minutes extra, so the extra hour for one thing is bad," said parent Sally Cortes. House Bill 1326 was filed by Representative Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City. Guillen, a Democrat, says school districts would save on fuel and utility costs. However, the head of the teachers union says saving money should not always come at the expense of education. "They could just save multi-billions if they just decided not to educate them at all because that's the direction they are moving in," said Gayle Fallon of the Houston Federation of Teachers. Fallon says at a time when education is becoming more competitive globally, students need instruction time. "Every other industrialized nation has a longer school week, a longer school year, more time on task. So, let me see, we are going to be internationally competitive by cutting back the amount of time we educate children?" Fallon said. Parents waiting to pick up their kids were mixed on whether the monetary savings make up for the shortened instruction time. "It's a longer weekend; if the family is off on a Friday or even a Monday, they can spend extra time together," said parent Brooke Miller. Other parents say the loss of a school day will just transfer costs to working parents, having to pay for another day of child care. "One group is trying to save money in one way, but it's going to end up costing more money in another way, I believe," said Cortes. We tried to reach Rep. Guillen for comment, but he was tied up in meetings today. The bill is in its preliminary stages and still has not had a public hearing in front of the education committee.