Four-day school week: Could it increase teen pregnancy?

In poor rural counties, there is not much for teens to do with an extra day off, a fact that worries health officials. (AP Image)

In poor rural counties, there is not much for teens to do with an extra day off, a fact that worries health officials. (AP Image)

A big question about four-day school weeks — a budget solution that several Georgia systems adopted to cut costs  — was what students would do with that extra day off from classes.

An Elbert County teen health center is hoping that the answer won’t turn out to be have sex and babies at higher rates.

Take a look at this interesting article in the Georgia Health News. Here is an excerpt:

“Elbert has had the problem of teen pregnancy for a long time,” said Adriane Strong, the adolescent health educator of the Teen Matters Clinic in Elberton. “The teen birth rate was higher several years ago, then it came down. But recently, it may have gone back up,” Strong said.

“Around 20 teens aged 15 to 18 visit our clinic every week,” said Strong, “The majority of them are seeking services including birth control and STD testing and treatment.”

Strong suspects that three-day weekends could contribute to the rebound of the teen pregnancy rate. “There is a large gap of time when teens are unsupervised on Mondays,” said Strong, “That may bring the potential for them to do things that they may not do when they are occupied with school, though they tell me they just stay at home or do babysitting.”

Lack of adult supervision is an established factor in studies of risky behaviors among teenagers, according to Matthew Lee Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior at UGA’s College of Public Health. “When students have additional unsupervised time, it may facilitate opportunities to engage in risky sexual behaviors,” said Smith.

Another factor may be the shortage of safe, constructive alternatives for teenagers in this rural county. “We have no malls, no movie theater, no bowling alley in Elbert,” said Strong. “There isn’t a lot for teens to do. When they have more time on their hands, we really cannot control what may happen.”

The last time the Northeast Georgia Health District surveyed teens about behavior and risk, in 2003, about 38 percent of Elbert County’s 15- to 19-year-olds said they were sexually active. Of those, 67 percent had multiple partners and 25 percent said they did not use condoms.

More surprisingly, Elbert County had a teen birthrate of 53 per 1,000 teens during the years 1996 to 2001. That was higher than the national rate, showing why teen pregnancy continues to be a top health concern in northeast Georgia, according to the BART survey.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

69 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

May 2nd, 2012
4:22 am

Will it increase teen pregnancy?

WHY IS THAT THE SCHOOLS BUSINESS?!

At what point do we DEMAND that parents be accountable for their children, and not rely on the nanny state?

Beverly Fraud

May 2nd, 2012
4:25 am

Lack of adult supervision is an established factor in studies of risky behaviors among teenagers,

Well there’s an easy answer for THAT. We just ask teachers to make thrice weekly home visits to each student in the class, to increase the home/school connection.

But let’s be reasonable and RESPECT the teacher’s time. No more than 90 per home visit (unless of course the teacher has more than 25 students, then no more than 75 minutes per home visit)

Beverly Fraud

May 2nd, 2012
4:28 am

I think any good teacher, knowing the role of the school in preventing teen pregnancy should be compelled to give 10% of their salary to teen pregnancy prevention efforts. This should not apply to the superintendent, because they have a stressful job, and it would be unfair to ask them to do that.

Any teacher who balks is obviously not committed to the betterment of children and should be promptly removed from the profession.

Jack

May 2nd, 2012
6:08 am

Teen pregnancy has nothing to do with how many days a teenager goes to school. Teenagers are impressionable and all they see from morning until night are sex images on the media. Hormone switches are turned on earlier when all they see and hear is bad adult(?) behavior.

mountain man

May 2nd, 2012
6:26 am

A lot of workplaces have gone to four ten-hour workdays rather than 5 eight-hour workdays, for efficiency and commuting reasons. But it is a BAD idea in our schools. What will it save? A little bit of diesel fuel from less bus trips? A little heating and air if the thermostats are set higher (or lower)? Or were you planning on paying the teachers only 80% of their salary for doing the same work in four days?

In the olden days (when I was growing up), the school days coincided with most work schedules, so there was not unsupervised time. Day care could take care of the younger kids, but who puts a sixteen year old into day care? We already create a monster problem for parents by scheduling so many breaks throughout the year, why add a Friday every week that parents have to come up with some arrangements for child care?

It seems like a stupid idea to save pennies while creating huge issues.

mountain man

May 2nd, 2012
6:32 am

There are always two ways to balance a budget – cut costs or raise taxes. Since no one seems to want to raise taxes, just cut eduucation spending, put 100 kids in a classroom, then fail them on their testing, hold them back, rinse and repeat. When they get sixteen (and in the third grade), they can drop out, become criminals, and get busted. They won’t go to jail because we are revamping our sentencing of criminals to keep them out of jail, so they will just continue burglarizing the rest of us. (so just call it a tax when you get burglarized).

Simple solution.

NBCT

May 2nd, 2012
6:33 am

This is interesting, I never thought of Teen Pregnancy as a scheduling issue. It would be interesting to see if Peach County has the same issue as they went to the 4 day schedule a couple of years ago.

NBCT

May 2nd, 2012
6:47 am

@Jack,… I believe it rests with the number of days the kids go to school, which keeps hands busy instead of idle.

KIM

May 2nd, 2012
7:00 am

This is rediculous.

catlady

May 2nd, 2012
7:09 am

NCBT, it isn’t the hands that cause pregnancy.

Teen pregnancy is a result of lack of goal oriented, long-term planning. Kids who are having sex who have long term plans do not get pregnant, generally.

I don’t think the schools should be worried about the sexual mores of its students. Presenting health information? Yes.

The schools have been given too many tasks as it is.

Bev: In the 1960s in Alabama, teachers were required to make 1-2 home visits a year for every student. In the 1970s, I met with every parent twice a year. I went to their homes if they could not come to school. I met one at the DQ, and another at their place of business. I know you are being TIC, but required meetings can help a student a lot.

Mountain Man

May 2nd, 2012
7:20 am

I agree that the sexual activity of the students is not the schools responsibility, but when schools go to stupid scheduling that makes it so difficult on parents to adequately supervise their kids, all for a few pennies of savings, then something needs to be said.

I haven’t even addressed the issue of student learning that is affected by requiring them to be in school longer hours, therefore they are more tired in the later classes. What about teachers – are they going to be as up in the last class of the day, after ten hours of teaching?

Teen pregnancy is just one unfortunate offshoot of these stupid schedules. What about burglary rates from those “idle hands” on the fifth day? What ARE those students going to do with their free time?

hmm

May 2nd, 2012
7:26 am

this is why I have given up trying. I continue to play the pretend game.

What the hell ...

May 2nd, 2012
7:40 am

@Mountain Man 7:20 Are you SERIOUS?!!!

What the hell ...

May 2nd, 2012
7:41 am

@hmm 7:26 Amen!

Mountain mans an idiot

May 2nd, 2012
7:45 am

Its not up to the school to babysit your kids. It’s YOURS!! What a idiot!

Jane

May 2nd, 2012
7:51 am

Beverly Fraud are you crazy? Since when are teachers responsible for children they do not parent?? What does being a teacher have to do with morals taught to students. We are not allowed to teach them in school. Why should we pay for the lack of parenting???

dcb

May 2nd, 2012
7:51 am

Let’s see – first school’s are supposed to accept responsibility for a student’s diet. And in many areas, sex education. Now also for teen pregnancy because of a four-day week? What’s next – accept responsibility for guaranteeing a 100% rate of placing drop-outs and grads in paying jobs? Or door to door transportation to school because of the dangers of walking or riding in their parent’s cars? How about giving the schools a break!

still trying

May 2nd, 2012
7:51 am

@Mountain Man. You actually hit a point there. Business owners(and our own Super) stressed the importance of having students in school not necessarily for the education but to keep down the number of B/E’s and shoplifting. Retailers hate school holidays and would go nuts if we went to a four day plan.

V for Vendetta

May 2nd, 2012
7:57 am

There are quite a few things to say about this:

First off, I don’t give a rat’s a$$ what happens in Elbert County. If this is a primary concern for the people of Elbert, I’d hate to see what other trivial idiocies they deem worthy of scrutiny on a daily basis. Second, this sort of thing would be a moot point if we didn’t live in such a nanny/welfare state. Hicks bouncing out babies wouldn’t really concern me if my taxes weren’t being poured into such a wasteful poverty canyon. Third, as others have already pointed out, this is NOT the province of the school or county or any other government institution. This is the problem of the parents. (However, it becomes the problem of the government because, well, see reason number two. Sigh.)

Oh, and to all of you who routinely dismiss sports as a waste of time and money. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate that position. When I was in high school, my parents were still at work. We were dismissed at 2:10. I had about two hours until my mom made it home from the elementary school. Know what I did with my time? I went to practice. For hours. And I didn’t come home until she had been home for a few hours. Then I ate dinner, did my homework, and went to bed.

Funny thing, I didn’t get anyone pregnant, do drugs, break into homes, or cause problems. I was too busy. Imagine that. If you want to know the real power of sports, that’s it. It KEEPS KIDS BUSY. And healthy. Motivated. Dedicated. Etc.

V for Vendetta

May 2nd, 2012
7:59 am

Jane,

Beverly was being tongue-in-cheek. She no more believes that than any of us do.

vmracer

May 2nd, 2012
8:06 am

So long as government financially supports bad behavior we will continue to get all the bad behavior we financially support. Bad decisions should create bad circumstances for those who make them.

Shar

May 2nd, 2012
8:12 am

The mission creep that has encumbered public education for decades has all but paralyzed the ability of teachers to teach and students to learn, as witnessed every day by the anguished posts on this blog. Schools must be able to allocate resources, including budgets and calendar days, to best support the central goal of education. Throwing in yet another responsibility that has nothing to do with learning (except, perhaps, the hard way) just ties one more leash holding back educators from actually imparting needed knowledge and skills, like Gulliver bound by the myriad tiny Lillputian ropes.

Teens free on Mondays? Get employers to allow flexible work time. Require teens to pick up trash, visit seniors, tutor younger students, perform community service or school maintenance. Coordinate with local churches or businesses to prepare a list of needs that teens can fill, and to arrange transportation when necessary. Ask local businesses to allow them to intern or apprentice. They can do useful things and gain work experience, which in itself might help to convince them that they don’t want to add raising a child to the mix quite yet.

Mountain Man

May 2nd, 2012
8:14 am

So someone explain to me how the four-day week saves the school system so much money? Or is this just another “new” idea that sounds great on paper but in reality is stupid.

gumby

May 2nd, 2012
8:14 am

It is just as likely to increase crime as pregency, or increase tv watching or provide more time for a young person to work. Any action can cause another action to take place. If your kid is brought up right then you should not have any thing to worry about.

C Jae of EAV

May 2nd, 2012
8:16 am

@Beverly Fraud – You opening post to kick off this thread of conversation pretty much summed it up. We can all go home now, there is nothing to see here……

gumby

May 2nd, 2012
8:18 am

To Mountain Man… The buses do not have to run.. one less meal to provide. one less day to heat or cool schools .. one less day of lights on in school. … Believe it or not this amounts to a lot of money.

carlosgvv

May 2nd, 2012
8:20 am

This essay tells me without doubt the America I grew up in is definitely gone with the wind.
Goodbye America. I knew you well.

catlady

May 2nd, 2012
8:22 am

mountain man Talk to Murray County. They have been doing this for a couple of years.

Mountain Man

May 2nd, 2012
8:23 am

By the way, no one is suggesting that it is the responsibility of the school system to keep the kids from “playing doctor on their new day off, it is simply a disagreement over why the school system feels it is necessary to go to a four-day week. It just adds another problem for parents of teenagers to deal with. Most kids don’t have a stay-at-home mom these days, both parents work. I doubt that day cares or camps are magically going to spring up to take care of these kids one day a week. Churches might see the need and step up, if the kids can be made to go. My problem is with what the schools get for wreaking such havoc.

I believe the systems that have gone to this have justified it by saying that since teachers are paid for a 180-day calendar year, we should just cut the calendar year by 20% and cut the teacher’s pay by 20%. Sort of like scheduling our workers to work 4-tens but only pay them for 8 hours of work. Voila! instant savings. (I am sure the TEACHERS are going to LOVE this, first no raises, then furlough days, now a 20% cut in salary for the same work).

redweather

May 2nd, 2012
8:24 am

“Around 20 teens aged 15 to 18 visit our clinic every week,” said Strong, “The majority of them are seeking services including birth control and STD testing and treatment.”

Maybe if public schools had effective sex-ed classes, these students wouldn’t be running to the health clinic. What an idea! Using the schools to educate young people.

Mountain Man

May 2nd, 2012
8:24 am

“mountain man Talk to Murray County”

And how much money have thay saved and where did they save the money?

red herring

May 2nd, 2012
8:26 am

i suppose that’s a reason to go to school year round? just wondering why the rate of
teen pregnancy doesn’t triple in the summertime. what’s wrong with getting a part time
job on the 3 day weekend? we have created a culture of teens getting pregnant to receive government
assistance/money and like it or not many of young teens have caught on to it quickly.

Mountain Man

May 2nd, 2012
8:26 am

All the changes I have seen in education fall into the category of “it wasn’t broke, but we decided to fix it, now it is broke”.

C Jae of EAV

May 2nd, 2012
8:29 am

@catlady – As once told to me by a principal in an Atlanta metro area elementary school, “That sounds nice and I would love to do it, but I simply don’t have the time to cover that much ground”. I point out that the student population at her school (which was K-5) was approximately 600+

I took it her point to mean the student population she was responsible/accountable for was simply too large to implement such an approach.

Mountain Man

May 2nd, 2012
8:30 am

“teen pregnancy doesn’t triple in the summertime.”

There are resources such as summer camps that can be utilized in the summer break.

Misty Fyed

May 2nd, 2012
8:31 am

By all means… lets let the tail wag the dog.

V for Vendetta

May 2nd, 2012
8:33 am

I tend to agree with what Mountain Man said, though. I would imagine whatever money is freed up by this cut in work days will surely be wasted elsewhere in baffling ways.

What the hell ...

May 2nd, 2012
8:35 am

This may be totalIy unrelated to the topic being discussed, but I would like to apologize for some of my comments on arecent blog about the Trayvon Martin. I have noticed that discussions that become personal are less fruitful than those that respectfully address issuse and not bloggers.

Follow the Course

May 2nd, 2012
8:37 am

But what about the “free lunch” kids who won’t get that breakfast or lunch? Will they get a voucher at McDonald’s?

and conversely it may reduce pregancy for the 20 and 30 something “stay at homers”. It’s all about the funding and the local Health Department wants more money.

Camille

May 2nd, 2012
8:49 am

I am a working mom, with a 6 and 14 year old. Believe me when I tell you that if my school system were to modify the school schedule to only 4 days a week, the county day cares/churches/YMCAs, etc. would all adjust to accommodate this schedule. Many of them currently take these kids after-school, so they would just expand for that one day to have school-age children there all day as it generates extra money for them.

My youngest attends a charter school. One morning as I was “attempting” to drop him off at school, an adminstrator was outside telling parents that they were having plumbing problems and sending all the kids home. Luckily, I have a job that allows me to work from home when needed, so it wasn’t a big deal for me. However, the day care that normally picks him up from the school in the afternoons actually called me once they found out about the situation, to find out if I would be needing their services for that day. The childcare facilities do, and would, adjust as necessary.

Csoby

May 2nd, 2012
8:54 am

Look at the make up iof the teens getting pregnant…not to be a racist…but how about parents and stable homes…but wait, we did away with that with Johnson’s Great Society and no one is responsible. the NAACP, and the government worked hard to break up the family and insert the government as the provider and disciplinaring..see waht has happened…Three day weekend…not the problem…breakdown in society as per the Federal Government and other organizations create the problem…Way to go NAACP

on the other hand...

May 2nd, 2012
9:14 am

…the Times-Free Press in Chattanooga reported yesterday on the four day week, with Chattooga County Schools boasting, aside from almost $800,000 in budget savings, increased graduation rate, increased test scores, a 73% decrease in discipline referrals for 9-12th grade and decreased absenteeism for both students and teachers
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/01/four-day-week-a-hit/

What the hell ...

May 2nd, 2012
9:25 am

@Cosby 8:54 We are just as concerned about white teeagers that become pregnant.

Batgirl

May 2nd, 2012
9:42 am

@Catlady, Murray County did not go to four day weeks. We have a three month summer and go back the day after Labor Day instead of early August.

@Mountain Man, I think the savings has been $300,000+ each year. These savings come from heat/air, lights, transportation. The kids come to school 160 days, but those days are extended by about an hour. Our pay cuts come from furloughed professional days, not the reduced number of days that the kids are here.

As for hicks bouncing out babies, we have that problem, too. Maybe we should see when the most babies are being born. If it’s in May or June, we’ll know it’s the school system’s fault because we aren’t in school during August!

William Casey

May 2nd, 2012
9:58 am

I’m sorry, this “pregnancy argument” seems silly to me. As a teen, I always found time to get with my girlfriend regardless of how busy I was. Of course, we took precautions and produced no babies.

V for Vendetta

May 2nd, 2012
10:18 am

William,

Haha! Good point! I wasn’t an angel, myself, but no “accidents” happened. Probably two reasons for that:

1. My parents supplemented the lackluster sex ed. program (idiotic Republicans) by telling me the ills of irresponsible sex.

2. Those same parents would have gladly adopted my illegitimate child, had one been produced, because they would most obviously have killed me.

What the hell ...

May 2nd, 2012
10:24 am

I got news for you! I know for a fact that some kids are having sex at school! Some of their favorite places to hook up include: (1.) the restrooms (good place for gays to have sex since nobody pays attention to people of the same gender in the restroom), (2.)the weightroom area, (3) in and beneath portable classrooms, (4.) area near the bookroom. Do you really think that having one day less in school will matter if these kids are foucsed on such self-distructive behavior. Who really should be responsible for their sex lifes: The School System?

mystery poster

May 2nd, 2012
10:24 am

Why don’t we just teach them about abstinence, problem solved!
/sarcasm font…

V for Vendetta

May 2nd, 2012
10:29 am

mystery,

I’ve found closing my eyes, putting my fingers in my ears, and stomping my feet to be quite effective. :-)

Jesus also works because he’s ALWAYS watching.

What the hell ...

May 2nd, 2012
10:32 am

The way some of these young behave you would think that having an illegitamate child was equavilant to earning college degree. Some of the have dropped out of college to have babies with absolutely no prospect of a job. Who in their right mind would make such choices. To just throw opportunity down the drain. It is the value sysstem of these people.