Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Job hopping

In late December, I decided I would need another temporary position to help me sustain the job search lifestyle. I used my background in youth lacrosse coaching and healthy life skills teaching to obtain a position as a substitute teacher in Seattle's private schools.

I must admit, it's rather fascinating to sing Old McDonald in a Y-PreK (3-year-olds) classroom one day, interview business owners in a client meeting the next, and serve dinner at a fundraiser gala the following evening. Talk about wearing different hats.

I'm learning about myself and what grabs my attention.

Today, for example, I was having lunch at the French-American school on Mercer Island debating the idea of a four-day school week. I've always shied away from the educational system, but I found myself passionate about school scheduling.

The P-I published an article on January 27th that proposed this shorter week as a money-saving effort for districts in Washington State. I don't know much about the American system (I'm thankful for what it's given me) but my initial reaction was negative. I had no idea that there are nearly 100 small, rural school districts in 17 states that hold a shortened school week. Apparently New Mexico used the schedule to save money during the 1970s energy crisis.

"What about extracurricular activities?" I asked.

The teachers in the break room replied that students could meet on the 'fifth day' of the week.

That seems impossible to me. What athletic team practices one day a week? When would they compete? If there are schools that choose the schedule and others don't (it's an opt-in system) how would they have games, matches or performances against regualarly scheduled schools?

I would really like to hear your opinions. Parents, would you be worried about finding childcare? Teachers, would you be able to capture students attention? Students, what would you do with your day off?

1 comment:

Teaching and Transformation said...

Sarah, my kids have been testing all week, and I'm taking advantage of the time by virtually catching up on your life.

A four-day school week does more than cut educational time by a fifth. (I realize many argue for a longer school day to make up for it, but this hurts extra curriculars, and it also ignores that fact that students hit saturation points and can only learn so much at one time.) It gives our most at-risk youth one more day without structure, supervision, and many times, food. In inner city communities, violence, crime, and pregnancies all increase during holiday weekends. These also are the communities that would most likely make the change, as they struggle most for funds, and have the fewest advocates.

Some policy decisions have to come from the top, and this is one of them.