The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Four-Day School Week:
Another Attack on Public Education

Nov 13, 2023

Across the U.S., 900 school districts—about one out of 14—offer only four days of school a week. About 30% of school districts in Missouri and 40% in Oregon are already on four-day schedules, but the undisputed leader is Colorado, where two out of three school districts open their doors only four days a week.

It’s nothing new—school districts have been eliminating school days for decades. But in recent years, the number of districts doing that increased sharply. Between 1999 and 2019, for example, the number of four-day districts increased more than six-fold, to 662—and since then, in just four years, that number has jumped up by another 35%.

It’s another big attack on public education in this country. The excuse school district officials try to use is that there is a teacher shortage, and that a shorter work week attracts more teachers. Yes, recent surveys show that the number of K-12 teachers retiring early or quitting has increased sharply—there were 567,000 fewer educators in public schools in 2022 than there were before the pandemic, according to federal data. But this is the direct result of the policies of school districts, and behind them state governments. Years and years of budget cuts have left schools in working-class districts with grossly overcrowded classes, in buildings that are falling apart. And when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the authorities cancelled school for students and drove teachers to exhaustion and burnout by pushing even more work on them under the sham they called “remote learning.”

And now the same officials are using the teacher burnout they created as an excuse to do away with a school day. And the way they are bragging about it as “a way to deal with the teacher shortage,” we can only expect them to push four-day weeks on more schools.

On a four-day schedule, the school day is usually a little longer, but that does not make up for the loss of an entire day for students. A shorter school week means robbing children, who have already fallen behind because of the shuttering of schools during the pandemic, of even more education.

Four-day school is also a significant hardship for working-class families, where both parents have to go to work. Officials say they offer day care on the weekday school is off, but it comes at a cost—typically somewhere between 30 and 45 dollars per day per child.

State governments, run by both Republicans and Democrats, have been starving schools for decades to funnel more and more taxpayer money to big companies. Under their watch, the education of working-class children will only deteriorate even more. The tide can turn only when the working class takes control of society’s resources and uses them for the benefit of the whole population, not just the wealthy.