Apparently, Senator Vince Illuzzi thinks he can extend the amount of time in a day. Or at least restructure the space-time consortium. In a ridiculous cost-cutting measure, he has suggested that all state offices and schools cut down to 4 day weeks, with 10 hour days. He cites the always-popular reasons of saving money on heat and gas. Screw learning, it’s all about the cash. In fact, screw the laws of time: if it will save taxpayers cash, then it has to be a good thing, right?
Absolutely not. Nobody is bringing up the fact that this would eliminate every vestige of free time a student has. First, let’s tackle the fact that this would essentially eliminate summer vacation. Since schools are required to have at least 175 days a year, this would mean summer vacation would be dipped into by many weeks. Depending upon implementation, a best-case scenario would be 2 to 3 weeks for summer vacation. This is certainly not enough time for students to do enough of the best kind of learning which comes with summer: volunteering, getting a job, or taking summer courses. Fortunately, the legislator could always wave a magic wand and eliminate the 175 day requirement. Unfortunately, I expect the eventual “solution” would involve less summer vacation.
Assuming the summer issue could be settled, it is worth considering that there simply is not enough time in a day for 10 hours of school. The typical high school student has approximately 3 hours of homework per night (this is being conservative). In my school, bus transportation takes 45 minutes in the afternoon and 1 hour, 45 minutes in the morning. Let’s also assume 1 hour for showering, eating breakfast, eating dinner, and doing chores (combined). Finally, the American Sleep Disorders Association recommends 9.5 hours of sleep per night for a teen. Adding this up, we get an impossible sum: 10+3+2.5+1+9.5=26. In order to do all homework and get a healthy amount of sleep, even without any free time, there would need to be 26 hours in a day for the 10-hour school day to work. Contrary to what Senator Illuzzi may think, there are only 24 hours in a day. So, even if a student never gamed, played sports, had fun or did anything normal, they would only be able to get 7.5 hours of sleep. (See Figure 2)
Obviously, that doesn’t seem too unreasonable. 7.5 hours of sleep is less than recommended, but is still reasonable—until you remember the average student does far more than sleeping, homework, and learning. In a more typical situation, a student might spend 1 hour doing any number of clubs or after-school commitments in a day (volunteering, etc.): the sort of stuff young people are encouraged to do. In addition, they are on the varsity soccer team and have 1 hour of practice every day. In order to do everything, they would only have 5.5 hours of sleep per night. (10+3+2.5+1+1+1+5.5=24) That is going into the realm of stressful and unhealthy. This student still has no free time and isn’t able to do much outside of school (certainly no part-time job), yet only gets 5.5 hours of sleep per night. (See figure 4)
As you can plainly see, this proposed plan would wreak havoc upon already stressed teens. It would eliminate summer vacations and would force the average teen to only get 5.5 hours of sleep per night (or less). In the scramble to cut costs, there should be other places to look besides
taxpayers’ right-less students’ time. I have another idea for you, Senator Illuzzi: try carpooling. Or, if you really hate schools this much, eliminate required schooling.