The Sacramento Bee reported this week on an exchange between a 9-year-old Cub scout and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher of San Diego. The Cub scout suggested that school be open only four days a week. Fletcher thanked him for the idea and told him he'd only be going to school five days a week.
Not so fast, Assemblyman.
While the Bee played this as a cute exchange, the kid's idea is a more practical response to budget realities than anything Fletcher has proposed. Budget cuts have already forced the state to shorten how much time California children go to school. That shortening has been accomplished by lopping days off the end of the school year. The trigger cuts likely to go into effect later this month could further shorten the school year by five to seven days.
The Cub scout may simply want to go to school less often, but his question raises an interesting point: what's the best way to give kids less school? It may be better for families and communities to simply shorten the school week to four days in many weeks than to end school early in the spring. If you were a working parent, would you rather have to figure out child care for a couple extra Fridays a month, or for two additional weeks in late May.
It'd be nice to see surveys and study of the subject. It'd be even nicer if the state could get a handle on its budget system and stop cutting the school. Indeed, data shows our children would benefit from being in school more often; longer days and longer school years produce more achievement and learning.