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Nearly 60 Texas school districts have switched to a 4-day week for students since Texas switched from counting instruction time from days to minutes. Could this happen in Lubbock? We will get to that soon, but first, let's examine why these schools are switching to this model. The first requirement was legal permission to do so, of course:

In 2015, Texas lawmakers passed a bill that changed how classroom instruction was timed . Districts no longer had to provide 180 days of classes, but instead a minimum of 75,600 minutes.

Some schools are making up the time by switching to longer days, while others are extending the school year by having shorter summer vacations.

The move is to attract and retain teachers, which many Texas schools have been hemorrhaging. Many of the schools are rural, and therefore face unique challenges with teacher retention like lower pay and the undesirability of living in a small town.

However, many teachers are fed up with several factors that happen in any district, including a massive workload and too many kids per classroom. Teachers would still work five days in this four-day model, but they would have the opportunity to use Fridays to do all that extra non-instruction workload that gets dumped in their laps.

Photo by Taylor Flowe on Unsplash
Photo by Taylor Flowe on Unsplash

Some other advantages to a four-day week may be a slight reduction in operational costs for schools and better attendance by students, but the results of those two haven't really been proven yet.

One major potential downside is parents needing to find care for their children on Fridays. However, many parents don't work regular Monday through Friday, 8-5 schedules, so that is also not really proven to be a burden yet. Many children stay with family members while parents work anyway, or are old enough to stay by themselves for short periods of time. Perhaps this could be negated by some sort of non-instructional in-school care. If a district chose to go to shorter summers to make up for the time missed, this issue really could "come out in the wash" so to speak.

Could this happen in Lubbock? Well, it already did, kinda. 

I luckily had the glorious experience of attending Lubbock High (Once a Westerner, Always a Westerner) during the period it experimented with half-days on Fridays. Sure, we had longer days during the week, but Fridays were awesome.

I took several electives during my tenure there, including Creative Writing, for which I would later get my degree at Texas Tech. The more social nature of these elective classes gave me the opportunity to make more friends, and I still have some of those people in my life. I also was able to get one-on-one tutoring for Algebra, which was not an easy subject for me.

Lubbock High is an academically demanding school. The extra time off allowed me to decompress, study as needed, and complete projects. Half Fridays was an A+ experience for me.

I believe if Lubbock area schools were to make the switch, it would perhaps be wisest to do so in phases, like starting with High School. Any major change requires adjustments, but all of Texas must figure out how to keep quality teachers in schools.

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