Episode 165 | 4 Day School with John Kuhn
Noon Eastern, 9/9/2023
A group of U.S. schools has implemented a 4-day school week. The number of school districts that offer 4 school days has grown significantly over the past 3 decades, from mere hundreds in the 1990s to over 1600 in more than 20 states in the United States in recent years. Some models of the 4-day school week add more instructional time to each of the days to minimize the reduction of total school time, although not all schools lengthen the 4 days.
Virtually all the districts that switched to 4 days are in rural areas or small towns. The original cause of this switch from 5 to 4 days was largely financial and related to staffing, although research shows that the actual financial saving for a district is less than 2%. The results for some schools have been quite positive in terms of reactions of parents, students, and staff, who have overwhelmingly welcomed the change. The impact on academic outcomes, however, is not clear, with some analyses showing little or no negative impact, while others identified more significant negative effects over a longer time.
The 4-day school week is no doubt a significant change in education. It has been, however, unfathomable for the majority of schools to even consider the possibility of a different attendance construct. Indeed, some U.S. states have attempted to block schools from moving to this model and insisted schools offer at least the required number of school hours. Schools that have switched to 4 days per week have also had to deal with numerous legal and practical issues.
In a recent article Rethinking the time spent at school: Could flexibility improve engagement and performance for students and teachers? published in Prospects, Jim Watterston and Yong Zhao discuss the potential implications of significant time changes in schools. And in this episode, we invite John Kuhn, Superintendent of Mineral Wells ISD in Texas, Bethani Carter, a teacher in the district, and Janelle, a student in the district to discuss their experiences of moving toward the 4 day school week.
More about our guests below the video
John Kuhn is superintendent of Mineral Wells ISD in Texas and is a long-time advocate for public education. He’s written three books and numerous articles and essays about education, and he has spoken nationwide on the importance of supporting teachers and defending the right to a free public education in the United States. He lives in Mineral Wells with his wife and daughter. He has a son studying pre-law at Texas A&M University and another son who recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in computer science.
Bethani Carter is a Pre-K teacher in Mineral Wells ISD. She is been teaching for six years and currently teaches Pre-Kindergarten at Lamar elementary. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 2014 with a degree in psychology. While going to school she was a substitute and fell in love with teaching, which led her to pursue her teaching certification.