Faced with rising fuel costs and flat school budgets, a Kentucky county has begun playing hooky one day a week. Schools in the Jackson County district have given kids Fridays off, while teachers work half a day. The district expects to see substantial savings in transportation, heating, maintenance, and other areas.
Kids hoping their own schools will follow Jackson County's lead may be in luck: Kentucky is joining a growing number of states that have allowed rural school districts to move to a shorter schedule. The four-day week has become common practice in Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Students in four-day districts have not shown any decline in achievement or standardized test performance, and they have better attendance records than comparable five-day students.
Should public school administrators be proud or ashamed that students who stay home one day a week appear to be doing as well as full-timers? Administrators note that schools make up for the lost day with longer school hours, but as one Colorado teacher told The Washington Post, these tend not to make much difference because students flag, and teachers respond by scheduling art, music, and gym classes late in the day. It may be that kids learn so little in school that nobody can tell when they're not attending.