Semana escolar de cuatro días! Wow!

Since the Great Recession, a growing number of school districts have cut the school week from five days to four. Education Week, special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza traveled to Bayard, New Mexico, to report on a school district that just completed its first year with the reduced schedule. She says people are not aware the trends growing popularity and that the consequences are wide-ranging and inconclusive.

Cuatro días por semana - Transcripción

Reporter: You're listening to the takeaway. I'm Tanzina Vega, and we're staying with education for our next story.  As a way to save money 25 states have at least one school district that is cut their week down to four days in New Mexico: 40 percent of districts have a reduced schedule, the schools in Bayard, New Mexico switch last year and one of their schools is profiled in a recent story for PBS NewsHour and education week.
[00:00:27] Student:  When I heard that the school is moving  from 5 to 4. I was like yes, I kind of don't like it a little bit because I'm I just really want to learn about things.
[00:00:37] Reporter: Bayard schools have already started their second year of a four-day week, but earlier this year New Mexico put a moratorium on any more districts doing the same --Kavitha Cardoza as a special correspondent for Education week and she reported this story for PBS --kavitha.
[00:00:52] Thanks for coming in to take away.
[00:00:54] Kavitha: Thanks for having me time Xena.
[00:00:55] Reporter: So first of all, we should be talking about four-day work weeks before we talk about. Four-day School weeks.  Just saying, why, where did this idea come from?
[00:01:06] Kavitha: So initially it came because of money, School District were really hurting like so for example, every time there's a recession you see an increase in the number of school districts moving to four-day School weeks and New Mexico was really hard hit with their oil and gas revenues and that affected School District budgets.
[00:01:28] And so the superintendent said they thought hey, what about four-day School weeks and the thinking is if you cut one day which is. Sent then maybe you can save 20% Of course. It doesn't always work like that an organization called the education Commission of the state. So it's nonprofit nonpartisan.
[00:01:46] They actually looked at school districts that had moved to a four-day school week. And by the way now there are you know School District more than 500 in more than 20 states have gone to four-day School weeks. They found it was point four two point two point five percent in savings. So. Definitely not 20%
[00:02:07] Reporter: Has it had an impact on the student's academic achievement.
[00:02:13] Kavitha: That isn't as clear Tanzina because as you can imagine there are studies some of them as an expert told me are rigorous and some of them not so much. So it was really hard going through tons of research because some literally show student test scores go up. Some show student test scores go down some show an initial bump because everyone is probably excited about this and then it kind of levels off but based on the studies we have which are not a lot.
[00:02:43] There are two really rigorous studies. It seems like kids do as well on a four-day week as they do. On a five-day week at least academically. I do want to caution though that often averages mask subpopulations. So for example, we don't know of any studies that have studied kids who are really vulnerable at school and might need an extra day.
[00:03:10] So kids with disabilities kids who are low-income, kids who are English Learners, minority children, they might be vulnerable populations that actually benefit. From being in school more.
[00:03:22] Reporter:  And you know, there's another element to this as the parents and or the caregivers and the Guardians of these children.
[00:03:29] We know that finding effective and affordable child care in the United States is almost impossible for working parents. What impact has this had on working parents? I'm sure if you told someone, you know, you've got to find childcare for your kid on say a Friday every day for the school year that.
[00:03:48] Could put some parents in a tight financial position couldn't it?
[00:03:52] Kavitha: Absolutely and that's part of the reason a New Mexico has decided to have a moratorium on the practice. So school districts can no longer go to a four-day week unless they say until the state studies the issue more they were worried about parents leaving the workforce to care for their children because Child Care is so expensive
[00:04:12] Reporter: But this is  strikes me It could be that the thing about this story that it strikes me as though we're thinking about. Thing but the parents and the children in this scenario, right? We're not thinking about the parents who have to find caregivers were not thinking about the kids. Hula as you said may need you no more time.
[00:04:28] We're just thinking about the money and that just seems like a failure of our government not necessarily of the of the education.
[00:04:35] Kavitha: So I should say Tanzina at the school district. I followed beard. They actually spent three years doing Outreach and collecting surveys and data and in the end it was about 90% of parents who signed off on this, you know, the school district. I visited also had a lot of families extended family staying close by so kids would say their grandparents or aunts or uncles looked after them again. I did meet. Child in the library whose mother worked he had a single mum and he was left alone the whole day. So I absolutely think that some parents are struggling but officially the surveys reported 90. I think it was 93% of parents signed off on this.
[00:05:23] Reporter:  And that specific School District, but I would imagine if this was something that that was broader say in New York City or as you mentioned in DC it
[00:05:29] Kavitha: just feels like possible probably
[00:05:31] Reporter:  impossible. I think it's so many people would be struggling now. There's another group of people involved here and there's of the teachers you spoke to a teacher called Laura Brown. Let's take a listen to what she had to say.
[00:05:42] Kavitha: I feel that extra day gave me that possible one day off to rest and recover as well. But it also it made my classroom and my teaching that much better because my lesson plans for better more in-depth teachers love the 40 week.
[00:05:58] They love it. And in fact, even though the primary reason might be superintendent's want to save money very quickly. The secondary reason if not now the primary reason is to recruit and retain teachers so that teacher you heard has several years of teaching experience. She's like really really valued.
[00:06:19] She had just moved to the district because of the four-day school week. She was in a five-day school week. Neighboring district and she decided to switch because she thought it really made her a better teacher Again part of the reason that school districts don't save money is because teacher salaries which is the bulk of their budget.
[00:06:41] They paying teachers the same amount often they extend the day's a little bit so they're not really saving on the bulk of their cost.
[00:06:49] Reporter: And how do you see this moving forward? I mean many of the school districts that we've seen so far that have the schedule or in Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon.
[00:07:00] Do you see this expanding into more urban districts and other parts of the country?
[00:07:06] Kavitha: Well, it's actually expanding 10 Xena not Josh in rural districts where kids might be on the bus for several hours a day just recently and 18,000 students School District in Denver metro area moved to a four-day week experts tell me that it's not just rural schools.
[00:07:26] Now, it's Urban Suburban even charter schools are moving to four-day School weeks. They find it helps attract. and retaing teachers, so I do see it becoming more common. I also hope that is accompanied by a lot more rigorous research in different parts of the country. So we actually see what is the impact.
[00:07:50] And is this a good idea or as you said are we doing this for the adults and not for the children.
[00:07:56] Reporter:  Kavitha  Cardoza as a special correspondent for Education week, Kavitha, thank you for being with us.
[00:08:01] Kavitha: Thank you for having me.