Why not have a four-day school week?

The four-day school week idea I read about left me thinking. "Why not?" Frankly, it's not just the high cost of oil, global warming or other gloomy scenarios that make the idea worth investigating. It could be a positive academic change.

From the tone of the article, the editor thought the idea had merit -- as a last-ditch solution. He almost had me humming along until he alluded to crime rates in a hand-wringing appeal. "Brother, can you spare a dime?" or "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?" has dramatic appeal. Yet I know of many families -- home school families, dare I mention them -- whose children study at home successfully.

To remain at home to do nothing is easy. To use the time wisely is more difficult. The question is whether people can be trusted to use their own lives in a legitimate manner. This prompts the rhetorical question, "If they can't be trusted, why place them in the schools anyhow?"

Youth crime exists today, and will continue to exist regardless of school hours. Crime is not the problem that should drive this decision.

Fear stems from lack of knowledge, creativity or courage. As a nation, for too long we have not "owned" our reliance on oil, instead shifting blame and focus. We even downplay it, as the author did, as a "temporary problem."

A day at home each week: inconvenient, imperfect and occasionally misused. I grant you these. However, the potential benefits to students, parents and the community are numerous and understated. Beyond fewer tanks of gas and savings from teacher telecommuting, reduced building utility and maintenance will accrue. We should continue to look at this cost-saving idea.

I commend the vision of Superintendent Dana Bedden for creating the path for creative problem-solving. Hopefully he is not stymied by Band-Aid pushers.

Mary Claire Birdsong, Augusta

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