School daze, golden rule days.

darth_josh's picture

Every year across the country, we hear of school boards' desires to build new schools due to the growing number of students and the need for smaller class sizes.

A new school building for an average city can be upwards of $10,000,000 US. The construction costs, land acquisition, and interest accrual all add their bits to the initial price tag. The locality and state are in charge of the upkeep of the school past the construction with some grants from the federal ‘government’.

After the new school building has been constructed, the old one tends to sink into disrepair, become ‘storage’ or occasionally it is sold to the public. Sometimes the school district will use part of it for administrative tasks. Often these buildings were well-kept and needed only occasional repairs when they were used. Rarely have I witnessed a school district merely making an addition to an existing building unless it was an athletic field or an ‘alternative education’ building (which I do not plan to address in this diatribe).

Meanwhile, parents struggle to meet the demands of life in this system as we know it. I am amazed at how many parents are actually unable (not unwilling) to take an active interest in their children’s education. I am sure that each of us has said or heard someone say, “They just don’t care about their kids!” It has become a ‘belief’ among the daywalking parents. So much so that they choose to maintain that belief disregarding any of the other factors involved in each instance.

Currently in middle america, the school year begins in late summer and ends in late spring. The school day begins somewhere between 7:00am and 8:00am and ends between 2:00pm and 3:00pm. Elementary children (grades K-5) are under the guidance of one regular teacher while secondary children (grades 6-12) are moved from class to class in order to target specific subjects.

Now before I get lynched for making this sound like EVERY situation is just the way I described, I concede that this is JUST THE RULE using my observations and that THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS to it.

My proposal to solve both issues, parental involvement and budget efficiency, is relatively simple. However, many might consider it to be (for want of a better term) invasive.

The utility costs for the months of January, February, July, and August are typically the highest. The two coldest months and the two hottest months use tremendous amounts of energy to keep the environment comfortable for our children. No one likes to do class work or homework when they are shivering or sweating.

I have not encountered a reasoned argument for continuing to maintain this present schedule. Is wasting money and energy worth preserving the ‘preferences’ of those charged with educating our children?

It seems imperative that we discontinue this practice soon before we reach a level of expense unable to be funded effectively due to rampant inflation in other public services.

My proposed school year calendar:

school year

Four months out? Wow. Actually, if we tally the spring breaks, fall breaks, winter breaks, summer vacation, and holidays then we can see that our children are out nearly that much time in the present system. Those days are merely in the wrong positions.

In order to maintain and possibly increase the number of days in the school year, the school week will need to be moved to six days. Yes, I know this seems preposterous, but wait. It gets worse. Holidays such as Easter, Labor day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and that pesky christmas will need to be ‘school in’ days as well. To some, it would be a small price to pay for four months of vacation from school per year. To others, it will be crippling because of their ideological attachment to the aforementioned days. However, I would question the integrity and motive of anyone who places their ideology ahead of their children’s education. I am sure that compromises can be made to achieve the greater good by finding ‘wiggle-room’ in the schedule by individual communities’ leaderships.

Other reasons for the omission of January and February from the school year include ‘snow days’, traffic safety, and outdoor activity. ‘Snow days’ or inclement weather absences have been responsible for at least 5 days out of school this past two months in my locality. This places a burden upon those parents who plan their schedules ahead of time and do not have jobs that maintain ‘school day’ schedules. For me, it offered time with my children that I don’t normally get due to my schedule, which only allows me approximately two hours per day Monday through Thursday. Traffic safety concerns and outdoor activity limitations during the months mentioned seems self-explanatory. I have no statistics to validate them at this time.

Leading me to my next alteration in our educational paradigm. To accommodate increased student rolls and families with parents who work night hours, the school day needs to be divided as such:

school day

For the objections of those who say that running a school for that many hours in a day would negate the proposed utility savings, I call your attention to two primary facts: The schedule is based around the temperate months and the lights are on in the school building during the daytime now and half of them are on at nighttime as well particularly during school functions after hours. Also, one should remember that we are saving the price tag of a new school building by using the present one efficiently. Those millions of dollars for a new building are to be counted as savings as well.The meme of ‘parental involvement’ as mentioned previously is now solved because parents now have a choice as to which schedule best accommodates their family time and work schedule.


As one additional feature for consideration, the class schedules of all children K-12 should be focused on giving equal time to all subjects within the curriculum of each school system. This involves having the elementary children follow the secondary school’s schedule.

class schedule

Doubling the school day and allocating specific subjects to each teacher should not double the number of teachers as compared to building a new school with more classrooms for more teachers would. Currently in the school that my children attend, each teacher has about 20 children in their respective classes. Under my proposed schedule, each teacher could focus on one topic with 20 children at a time in each grade if need be. 12 teachers teaching their respective subjects to 240 children is an even trade except for the primary difference that they are responsible for teaching ONE subject by grade instead of presently trying to cover all subjects in a specific grade.

This has been on my mind since the two oldest started 1st grade. I’m open to comments, praise, criticism, or just ‘fuck you this sucks, darth”


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shelley's picture

Interesting... I like the

Interesting... I like the idea of taking advantage of natural light/temperature benefits to reduce energy needs however I have an issue with students attending classes from 5PM - 1 AM.  I'm not sure schedules should be adjusted that way for children.  Not only is it a social issue but disrupting the sleep cycle could effect their growing bodies.  I understand some adults work at night but they are grown and make this choice for themselves. 

Also we would have kids getting out of school and onto the bus and/or walk home at 1 AM... ie more drunk drivers on the road.

darth_josh's picture

shelleymtjoy wrote:I

shelleymtjoy wrote:
I understand some adults work at night but they are grown and make this choice for themselves.

Are you really going to say that?

Working second shift is a 'choice'? The next time you wait too long at the store because there aren't enough cashiers on duty to serve you, remember it's their choice.

I can see the issue of nighttime safety to a degree. However, the risks of too many drivers on the road during the morning and afternoon hours counter that argument. Fewer drivers on the road at night.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.

shelley's picture

'choice' was the wrong

'choice' was the wrong word.  sorry Sad

i believe the idea I was trying to get across was that I would be concerned about sleep deprivation in children whereas adults 1. don't need as much sleep and 2. can make the informed decision to work a late or later shift.  even if that 'decision' means work the night shift or don't pay rent that month it still is a "choice" they make for themselves.

I don't know enough about circadian rhythms to judge if a child could get the needed sleep sometime between 1 AM and 5 PM.  I would guess that the entire family would have to be on this schedule to reduce daytime (ie sleeptime) disruptions but it sounds like this wouldn't be an issue.

There was a study done in my local area that concluded high school students benefited from going to sleep later and waking up later - talk of delaying the school day by one hour hit the brick wall of whining parents though.  (I find it interesting that parents would complain that a school system wanting to do what is in their child's best interests doesn't fit their schedule...)

I wanted to link to the study but I can't seem to find one that doesn't involve using my school's e-journal subscription to login to a pay-per-use site.  Here however is an article that discusses some of these studies.