Can Rahm make the longer school day happen?

April 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm 87 comments

If Rahm extends the school day I'll forgive him for this goofy pose

The Sun Times published the following story today about Rahm saying how strongly he’s committed to extending the CPS school day.  I like the sound of his conviction, but have no idea if it’s grounded in reality at all.  According to this article, Chicago is about on par with NYC and LA in terms of instructional hours, so it’s hard to make the argument that our teachers are getting some easy ride compared to other urban teachers.  And I doubt we can afford to pay them a whole lot more to compensate.   Mayor Daley never made it happen, so it can’t be as easy as I’m hoping for Rahm to waive a magic wand and suddenly the school day is longer.

Despite my giddiness about this possibility, I showed the front of the Sun Times to my son who held his fist to the sky and declared “Curse you Rahm Emanuel!!!!!”

From the Sun Times:

Students in Chicago’s public schools will spend an extra hour or hour and a half in school each day once new legislation makes it out of Springfield, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel said Friday.Emanuel said the issue of how much more teachers will get paid is open to negotiation — but not the question of whether the school day will be longer. It will be, Emanuel said.

“We’re not going to negotiate or discuss whether children get more instruction — we will work together so that gets done. I’m not deviating from that. I was clear about it,” Emanuel said after speaking at a South Side charter school.

More than any other mayoral candidate, Emanuel said he strongly backed curtailing teachers’ right to strike and a longer school day.

Chicago students are “cheated” by not getting as much school time as Houston’s students, Emanuel said.  And if the school day grows by 18 percent — going from five hours and 45 minutes to six hours and 45 minutes or more — that doesn’t necessarily mean teachers’ pay will also be boosted 18 percent by the cash-strapped school board, Emanuel said.  “That’s not the only way to make sure our teachers are compensated,” he said.   His message to teachers: “Come to the table. We’re not going to argue about a longer school day. You’re good professionals. You want to be professionals. There is a longer school day and a longer school year.”

 The Chicago schools face a $720 million deficit. The current teacher contract runs through June, 2012, but Emanuel feels so strongly about this issue he would like to get the school day lengthened for this coming school year, an aide said. A typical Chicago Public School day now lasts from 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

 Emanuel suggested teachers have declined more pay for more hours before:  “Three or four years ago, they rejected a pay raise — 6 percent for 45 minutes of additional instruction time,” Emanuel said.  Emanuel’s story is not backed up by sources from either side involved in those contract negotiations.  Union notes of an April 3, 2007 bargaining session show Chicago Public School officials “asked for 45 more minutes and said no money was attached to it — and that was the end of that,’’ said Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman Liz Brown.   A CPS insider said the board offered teachers an additional 2 percent bump in 2007 in exchange for an extra 45 minutes of teaching every day — but for just one year. That was turned down and the final contract included four percent annual raises without any increase in the school day.  Chicago teachers have it pretty good, Emanuel said: “Every year for the last nine years, pay has been increased by 4 percent. Instructional time: zero, Those are facts. Which is why we have the shortest school day and shortest school year of any major city.”

 Not exactly, Brown said.  A fact-sheet issued by the union noted that the school day was extended 15 minutes following contract talks in 2004. The 4 percent pay raises go back seven years, not nine.  And while Emanuel said Chicago students get far less instruction than those in Houston, Los Angeles or Boston, Brown said Houston is an “outlier” requiring far more hours of instruction — 1,304 a year — than any major city. Chicago, which requires 946 instructional hours a year, is between Los Angeles, which requires 954 hours, and New York City, which requires 930, Brown said.

As the state House of Representatives prepares to vote on the education legislation the State senate passed 59-0 this week, the discussion needs to be less about how much more teachers will be paid and more about what new things children will learn, Emanuel said.  “I want to have a discussion: What is that hour and a half going to be used for? Is it for math?” Emanuel said.  An hour and a half?  “Maybe it’s an hour — whatever the school board decides,” he said.

Emanuel told students at Johnson College Prep that he was deeply involved in passing the legislation.  “I met with Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, Sen. Lightford, multiple times, as recently as Monday for an hour and a half in my office,” Emanuel said. “Everybody around the country is now looking at this as a role model. I’m pleased we’re on the doorstep before I even get sworn in.”  

Mayor Daley tried unsuccessfully for years to get longer school days, often citing Houston as a model. A stumbling block has always been the cost of paying teachers. Former Schools CEO Ron Huberman got around this last year by introducing a new pilot program that added 90 minutes to the school day in 15 schools using online learning and mostly non-certified teachers.

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Raising the bar at neighborhood schools (Guest Question) New CPS CEO

87 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Marketing Mom  |  April 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I am all for a longer school day as long as it is for a constructive subject that the kids can really benefit from. However, I am NOT in favor of adding recess and breakfast to the classroom as a way to add additional time to the school day.

  • 2. Hawthorne mom  |  April 16, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I think he is posturing. My guess is that he is asking for an additional hour and a half and will end up getting about 45-60 minutes. If he were to get an hour and a half, he’s going to have to pay for it. We have a huge budget shortfall and I don’t really see where the money is going to come from.

    Recently the CTU agreed, voluntarily to support changes in how tenure works, how teachers are rated and fired, and other things. This will “buy” the CTU some good will they haven’t had in the past.

    Let’s say 45 minutes of that time comes from moving the “lunch break” from the end of the day to the middle of the day to provide an additional lunch/recess time for students. Schools will then be obligated to provide a daily “duty free” time for teachers during that time. That costs money due to additional staff needs to cover breaks schools never had to cover before. Then, he’d be adding another 45 minutes of instructional time. So, just talking about that 45 minutes… there really money to give staff a 12-13% raise for the additional 12-13% of length of day? No. There isn’t even money to give people a 3-4% raise if they agree to a 12-13% increase in length of day.

    It is going to get tricky, with the huge concessions won through closed meetings regarding teacher ratings, no more last hired first fired… get teachers to work that much longer without a raise of some kind.

    More instructional time is a good thing. I like it. But again, not sure Chicago can pay for it. I am going to guess he’ll get the 45 minutes to move recess to the middle of the day, but not much more.

  • 3. Hawthorne mom  |  April 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    To be clear, I understand that he is planning on going through the legislature to get the longer school day/year passed without union approval. But the CTU can still bargain for something in exchange. I would be thrilled to see a lengthened day in exchange for a small raise close to what we’ve gotten in the past….maybe 4% for a 13% increase in length of day. I just don’t think the city has enough money for ANY raise at all and I don’t think teachers are going to give THAT much more time for nothing, especially after the other things that were just agreed to (tenure issues, hiring/firing, etc….).

  • 4. State Employee  |  April 16, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Um…where does Rahm plan to get this extra money. The Department of Human Services received some of the money that was originally to be cut back. The plan was to slash human services so that education & public safety wouldn’t have to be cut. Now I’m hearing since DHS doesn’t have to cut as much that education WILL be cut. I also read that the state owes CPS over 200M for this school year & CPS thought the deficit was 80M but now they say it’s about 100M. I did read somthing about an increase in property taxes but I just don’t get where all this money is going to come from to fund a longer school day….

  • 5. Watching him speak  |  April 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    It’s starting to be a trend. Lots that comes out of Emanuel’s mouth is misinformation (at the very least).

  • 6. elemparent  |  April 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I think he is really just talking about elementary schools. The high schools already have hours more like 8AM-3PM, right? If you tack on extra time to the HS day, this cuts into extracurriculars and means kids won’t be getting home until pretty late. Then they still have homework on top of that. Am I being naive? I can’t imagine a HS kid in school from 8AM-4PM, with sports practice from 4:30-6:30PM and then a bus ride home. Isn’t it supposed to be good for families to eat dinner together? This just seems like too much.

  • 7. IB&RGC Mom  |  April 17, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I doubt they are talking about high school. I think it is the elementary schools that kids are going for 5 hours and 45 minutes a day. My kids are both at different schools with different hours, but both only attend for 5 hours and 45 minutes a day. The short school day has always bothered me. And for the schools that don’t have recess I do hope they add recess. The additional hour and a half does not need to be all instructional, but most of it should be. The kids also need time to actually socialize.

    So what I don’t know is how many hours a week are teachers supposed to work? I know the school hours, but how long before school and how long after are they required to spend either tutoring, with extra curricular activities, grading papers, etc.? Aren’t they salaried? I know they are union, but being in the business world I am salaried and while the typical work week is “40 hours” I often work 50-60 hours a week (and not because I want to, but because the job needs to get done).

    So if they end up extending the school day by an hour and a half the teacher in school hours are going from 28.75 to 36.25 right? While I think the teachers should receive some compensation for the change in required hours, I also think they have had it good and have to understand that this is long overdue,for the good of the kids, and that the budget deficit is so big that there is only so much they can do in terms of salary compensation.

    I am not trying to be intensive to teachers because it is truly one of the most respectable professions someone can choose, but I don’t think it is fair for kids in many schools to have to cram everything in, including their food at lunch in their short school day.

    I think we just need to keep moving this district in the right direction and think the changes they are proposing are a step in the right direction.

  • 8. Mayfair Dad  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I would love to see a longer school day, but I think Hawthorne Mom raises a few good points. The redefinition of tenure by CTU is huge and earns them some wiggle room at the negotiating table. How would the city or state pay for extra instructional time? Quinn promised more money for education with the tax increase, but if or when that happens, I see the majority of that being spent reducing pension debt. Maybe the mayor elect needs to focus on improving outcomes within the school day we already have. Moving teacher lunch breaks to midday to create time for recess seems reasonable for all.

  • 10. Grace  |  April 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    “Curse you Rahm Emmanuel!” I LOVE cps obsessed’s son’s comment! Hilarious kid. Second City in his future?

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  April 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    yeah, he’s a funny kid. I try and try to get him into one of the many improv-ish classes in the city but it’s a no go.
    I think the “curse you!” comes from the cartoon Phineas and Ferb when Dr. Doofenshmirtz yells “Curse you Perry the Platypus!”

    Ok, gotta write a post about the new leader of our beloved school system. Bye bye Terry M.

  • 12. OMG!!!  |  April 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks to CPS news! All of the CPS board members are out!!! Lots of the top central admin staff is out!!! Next, board meeting will be s sham since they are all lame ducks!! Then, in May another sham because all of the board members will be new…

    Sorry for all the exclamation marks but I’m scared for all of us…so many new people & changes with no budget who knows how anything will turn out!!!

  • 13. Expecting  |  April 18, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I think all these changes are going to lead to a lot more charter or magnet or SE schools. So, folks will be happy, right?

  • 14. LR  |  April 19, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I say NO to a longer school day. Especially for elementary. Kids have a hard enough time focusing for nearly 6 hours. You think that the class that they have from 2:45 to 3:15 is going to be a real productive one? Doubt it! And if this new leadership makes drastic cuts to music, art, and PE, there will be some extra time for classroom instruction right there (definitely don’t want my kids in for a longer day if it is just going to be a day packed with reading, writing, and arithmetic – if the day is longer, they need time for other non-academic things). Furthermore, is a longer day linked to higher graduation rates/better educational outcomes/lower rates of juvenile delinquency? I don’t get the impetus for the investment. And, from the teachers’ point of view, they DO work at least 8 hours a day. Think of all the time planning lessons, grading papers, etc. C’mon…that’s at least another 2 hours and 15 minutes a day. I stand with the teachers on this one. And as for Rahm…well, I did not vote for him. I was hoping he would prove me wrong. So far that has not been the case.

  • 15. cps Mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Studies have shown that more hours of education = improved outcomes. Period. Nationally and globally we are behind.

  • 16. Hawthorne mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I can speak to the amount of time teachers work. For every hour in the classroom, teachers put in 1-2 hours outside the school day. A typical work week for a teacher is 60 hours. Sometimes more. And most teachers I know work on curriculum, their own PD, and running to yard sales trying to find cheap reading material for their students over the summer, among other things.
    So, adding an hour and a half a day is really like adding an additional 3 hours per day of work. Salaried or not, that is a lot to ask when you really understand how much work is already going on. I am for the extra time, actually, but would expect to be paid at least something for that time.

  • 17. momorama  |  April 19, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    @14 LR –

    There are CPS schools that let out before 2:00pm. And many don’t start until after 9am. Also, the majority of schools no longer have recess, so this additonal time could be used in that way, or to add art, music computer which also does not currently exist. The length of a school day varies from place to place.

  • 18. IB&RGC Mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    I agree – the classes that can be added can be art, music, gym (on a more regular basis), etc. and maybe those can be the classes they have at the end of the day. They should add recess and extend the lunch period. That way the classes they currently have can be more productive and they can expand on those where necessary.

    So since some CPS schools have a shorter day then others, are the teachers at the schools with a longer day making more?

  • 19. Hawthorne mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    There is one simple way to add instructional time into the school year while going around the very big problem of no AC in most schools, making extending the year on either end horrible.
    Instead of professional development days happening during the year, put all those days a week or two before students return. If no AC is available in a room big enough to house all the staff, have the PD at a library or some other city building. That would add an entire week of instruction (or maybe more) onto our school year.
    #18, you have raised a very good question. No, those teachers at elementary schools with longer days do not receive more pay. Although they are owed a 45 minute duty free break during the day. Thinking about it that way, then you are right, we should be able to add 45 minutes with no raise…..IF and only IF there is really and truly a 45 minute duty free time. My old school was required to give us 4 prep periods each week and I don’t think I EVER had a week with 4 preps. Contractually they were supposed to “make up” those preps with a sub, but that often didn’t happen. My experience with the BOE and their utter lack of care for children and teachers has made me wary of them. Still you are right. Assuming the BOE can come up with the huge amount of money needed to pay additional staff to provide 45 minute breaks for every staff member in each building (I am guessing in the millions of dollars), then, yes, there should be no reason for a raise if it is limited to 45 minutes per day. You make a good point.

  • 20. Anonymous  |  April 20, 2011 at 10:18 am

    While many schools could benefit from additional time on core subjects, there are other successful schools where enough time is probably devoted to the basics. But Rahm was quoted saying said he wants the additional time spent on reading, math and science. Don’t know if there are any exceptions.

    Adding enrichment classes to expand the curriculum would be wonderful. I would welcome more of any of these: computer / foreign language / writing program / art / music.

  • 21. Grace  |  April 20, 2011 at 10:20 am

    H-Mom, you have come up with another eminently practical idea about Professional Development Days.
    Maybe you should plop it on Rahm’s web site?

  • 22. IB&RGC Mom  |  April 20, 2011 at 11:44 am

    That is a great idea for the professional development days. Or they can even scatter those out during the summer if need be, but that may be less convenient.

    My guess is that Rahm is saying that they need for more time spent on reading, math, and science based on #1 lower preforming schools who are not spending adequate time getting kids to the level they should be at and #2 because of the few schools who added to the school day by having the kids sit in front of the computer and teach themselves for an hour and a half or whatever length of time it was.

    When the news came out about the schools that were extending the day several months back I saw the computer program they were using and I didn’t think that was the way to go, especially not for that length of time. It is a program with questions that can often be advanced and can give clues that can sometimes be unrelated when the questions are answered incorrectly. This is not the right thing to do for these kids unless they are simply trying to keep them occupied and off the street. My little one uses the same program for 20 minutes a day for homework and when there has been things she didn’t understand I took that as an opportunity to teach her. They don’t have a teacher around, just someone there to supervise.

  • 23. IB&RGC Mom  |  April 20, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Also, I think that 45 minutes should just be lunch combined with recess where they have lunch room staff already and have a couple people supervise all kids at the time of recess so the majority of the teachers can take their 45 minutes at that time. Seems like a win/win if it is a possibility.

  • 24. Grace  |  April 20, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    IB & RGC mom, I respect your opinion, so I’d like to ask more about the after-school software program.
    Do you know the name / developer of it? Is it a test prep type of program, like Study Island? Or something else? For all elementary grades?
    I’m glad you shared your experience with it here, just in case that is in our future. : )

  • 25. Hawthorne mom  |  April 20, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Can someone tell me where Rahm’s website is? I think I should post there. It can’t hurt, right?

  • 26. IB&RGC Mom  |  April 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    @24, thanks. 🙂 it is Kids College and you have to have an account to be able to log in. There is some information at…

    Basically I really like it for my daughter’s 20 minute nightly use at home as I am there and can see what she needs help with, etc, but for the kids they sit down for an hour or more in school it may be too much. In the beginning (when she started in 1st grade) I had to sit with her every night as had questions that she couldn’t answer without help. Now she hardly ever needs my help, but again she is just doing it for 20 minutes. They ask about 4 to 5 multiple choice questions in either reading or math (you pick the subject) and then after you have finished answering those correctly you get to play a 20 – 30 second very basic sport game online.

    It gives you your overall scores for both answering the questions and for sports and shows where everyone in the class ranks in the sports scoring along with some “trophies” when you reach certain point levels for each specific sport. I don’t think the sports are much of a carrot to get the questions answered, but at least it breaks it up a bit.

  • 27. @#17 momorama  |  April 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    You are not correct. All CPS elementary schools (with the exception of charters) have a 5 hour & 45 minute day. I have two kids in two different schools. One starts at 8am and gets out at 1:45pm and the other starts at 9:15am & gets out at 3pm. BOTH schools have 5 hour & 45 minute days but the start/end times vary.

  • 28. Hawthorne mom  |  April 20, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Actually, there are a handful of schools with longer days. Edison, for example, goes from 8:0 a.m. until 2:40 (not 1:40). That is almost a full hour longer than than most schools. I believe there are a half a dozen schools that opt for the longer day.

  • 29. @#28  |  April 20, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Edison has the 45 minute lunch/recess which the teachers voted on. This is the reason their day is longer. They do not have more instructional minutes than other CPS schools.

  • 30. Grace  |  April 21, 2011 at 8:26 am

    If you click on this link from an earlier post, you’ll get to Rahm’s web site.

  • 31. Grace  |  April 21, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Some schools go from 7:45 to 1:45 with a 45 minute lunch and recess.

  • 32. momorama  |  April 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    29. @#28

    Actually, that’s one of my points exactly – making the school day longer could give kids a recess which is what I was discussing in my original post. I know it makes learning a lot easier and more beneficial to my children who have an 8am to 2:40pm school day (which is not typical in CPS, also my second point above.)

  • 33. LR  |  April 22, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Yes, Bell also has 8:15 to 2:40, but that is again with the longer lunch/recess period. Despite the longer lunch/recess period, I know my daughter still has computer, foreign language, art, music, and PE, so it is possible to fit all that in in the remainder of the time they have and still be academically very strong. Rahm’s adding additional reading, math, and science time better not make our day any longer. It is long enough! And I certainly hope it wouldn’t cause us to cut into any of our enrichment classes, because I consider those equally important. I understand there are schools that might benefit from a longer day, but I just hope this is not another instance of a one-size-fits-all approach with CPS. Maybe they should just make CPS school days uniform in length (6 hours and 25 minutes) and then leave it up to the school to decide how to structure the day.

  • 34. Grace  |  April 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

    H-mom, do you think you have time to write a quick letter to the Editor at the Tribune about your idea concerning Professional Development Days as an easy and inexpensive way to increase class time?

    Today’s Trib has 4 letters on this subject, and your suggestion is so practical. It would be very helpful.

  • 35. mom  |  April 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I can’t remember the last time my kid at Lane Tech had a full school week! After coming back from break, I learn that they are out on Wednesday and thursday so the juniors can take the ACT. What happened to taking those tests on Saturdays?

  • 36. Hawthorne mom  |  April 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I just sent in a letter to the Trib. We’ll see if they print it.

  • 37. elemparent  |  April 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Here’s another way to add days of instruction to the school year. Remove all non-instruction days from the calendar (PD days, even report card pick-up could be broken over two days from 3-6PM and the kids don’t miss school). Then give each teacher a stipend (say $1000) to pay for continuing ed. Maybe CPS can even work out deals with local universities so that teachers get a discount on classes. Teachers can then find PD that is best for them and what they teach. My prior teaching experience in CPS is that an PD provided by the Board is so general that it is not useful to many teachers.

  • 38. Hawthorne mom  |  April 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    #37, I agree with you on the quality of the PD provided by CPS. Total waste of time, imo. I like your idea. I bet the board would even save $$.

  • 39. Grace  |  April 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    More excellent ideas! #37, why not plop this on Rahm’s web site and send a letter to the Tribune’s editor, too? The report cared pick up idea is super.

  • 40. Mom2  |  April 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    @35 – my understanding is that all CPS high schools now offer the ACT for juniors during the week instead of the weekends. They do this because they were not getting enough kids to take the ACT when it was only offered on a Saturday – so now it is part of school for them and all the other kids (9th, 10th and 12th grade) get two more days without school. Seems wrong to me and just adds to this truth that the kids are not in school as much as they need to be.

    Sometimes this one size fits all approach at CPS makes no sense. If there are issues with kids in certain high schools not taking a test, handle it on the local school level rather than changing things for everyone. It is just like the breakfast in the classroom policy. CPS is too big with too many different situations to handle it all with one policy.

    And regarding adding school days to the calendar year, I certainly agree that adding those days within the current calendar makes a ton of sense. Great suggestions!
    However, if they also feel we need to add onto the start or end of the current calendar, I sure hope they add on to the start and not the end. Just like the Track E idea, you really hurt high school kids trying to get jobs by having them need to be in school when summer camps need counselors or lifeguards, etc. (3rd week in June). But no camps are in session after the 2nd week of August. Most people I know have 3 weeks to figure out child care for their kids starting in the 3rd week of August until after Labor Day. Those are the “spare” weeks when we could add schools days.

  • 41. Hawthorne mom  |  April 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I actually agree with starting school, say, the third week of August. One barrier to starting early, though, are the thousands and thousands of kids who simply do not show up to school until after labor day. Many families vacation or go back to Mexico or wherever. The system started delaying the first day of school to the day after labor day because they were losing a lot of federal funds, since each chair filled on each day=$$$$.
    If CPS did this (made start of school year earlier) there would have to be a massive campaign, starting the previous year, through schools, churches, news/media, community organizations, etc…to promote awareness. I believe they tried this before and it was not successful, but perhaps my memory is not serving me right? I didn’t pay much attention to policy issues if they didn’t directly affect my classroom, before I had kids!

  • 42. Grace  |  April 28, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    These are great observations. I hope CPS is listening.

  • 43. Am I the only one?  |  April 28, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I am really bummed about the possibility of my child being in school until late afternoon – in addition to already being up late with homework on some nights, we often have a full afternoon of sports and enrichment activities after school. My child is already exhausted most days after school. Is this what parents really want or is this part of the new mayor’s numbers game to boost test scores? Fine, 15 minutes or even 30 seems reasonable – but 90 – NO WAY!

  • 44. Grace  |  April 29, 2011 at 7:05 am

    You are not the only one. But Rahm is not asking parents, is he?

    This is another example of CPS one-size-fits-all. Just like breakfast in the classroom.

    This started out as parents wanting a reasonable lunch and recess. Now he’s turned it into an added 90 minutes… of what he hasn’t said .. but I bet it has something to do with sitting in front of a computer for coaching to improve ISAT scores, don’t you?

  • 45. Grace  |  April 29, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Plop this on his web site, ,write some letters to the Trib and Sun Times, call your Springfield congressmen.

    Sara Feigenholtz

  • 46. cps Mom  |  April 29, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I agree with Rahm. We need more quality class time. However that’s done, there will always be a concession to make. Longer days or extended school year or fewer days off or a mix of all. There will always be someones schedule that this interferes with. The longer day would have been better for me since there were always problems orchestrating the after school programs. One thing the charters do right is they have the longer day and they keep the kids until 6 (for a fee of course) and they get the homework done. You then have the evening free. What a dream.

  • 47. Grace  |  April 29, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Child care is difficult for working parents, and after-school programs are a big help.

    Eric Zorn had an interesting article yesterday on this topic.

    From Catalyst … “The Tribune’s Eric Zorn comparing Houston’s school days and years to Chicago’s. While Houston students put in more class time than Chicago students, “the evidence is far from overwhelming,” that more days in school “would result in an uptick in student achievement,” Zorn writes.”

  • 48. Hawthorne mom  |  May 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Just wanted to let you know, they are printing the letter to the editor that I wrote on Wednesday in the Tribune on pushing those school days to before school starts so we don’t lose so many instructional days to PD. I am pretty sure they are going to print my name with it, so I might as well just use my real name here now.
    -Peggy Rios, Hawthorne mom

  • 49. magnet school mom  |  May 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    One of the problems of starting the school year earlier or staying later is that the schools don’t have AC. The newer ones do. It gets too hot. It’s a prob for my kids now and it’s only 80 today. The retro fit would be very expensive not to mention that it then brings up all the issues of ‘disturbing asbestos’ covered things and that whole abatement mess.

    The commet at #41 about kids in Mexico is silly. Lots of schools in minority communities are currently the track that goes year-round. The prob goes hand in hand with finding teachers willing to give up summers. Lets face it, it one of the few perks of this job. I know many people who went into teaching because of this specifically- it’s not for the recognition they get or the great pay or the other great benefits…ha ha ha

  • 50. Hawthorne mom  |  May 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I actually don’t think my comment about kids going back to Mexico was silly. We definitely saw this exact issue in the school I taught in. My school was 100% Latino and many family went home at that time. This is also an issue for families of many different racial groups, taking family vacations to all kinds of places the week before Labor Day.
    The whole reason the school year was pushed back to after Labor Day was because many families would not bother to return to school until then. I remember back when CPS used to start before Labor Day, and it was moved to after, because the system was losing too many dollars due to all the non-attenders.

  • 51. Hawthorne mom  |  May 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I meant to say, many families went home (not family).

  • 52. Grace  |  May 11, 2011 at 8:29 am

    H-mom, congrats on getting your letter printed!

  • 53. falconergrad  |  May 14, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I can’t decide if more school time would be a good thing or not. Depends on how they use it, I guess. What I do take issue with is Rahm trying to get this done for fall 2011! Doesn’t he realize that parents are already trying *right now* to coordinate 2011-12 school schedules for kids at different schools, not to mention those with preschoolers who won’t get into the erroneously named “Preschool for All’ (ha-ha) trying to find private options and plunking down non-refundable deposits. If you want to get it done, RE, then do it slowly and thoughtfully and with plenty of notice for all of the little people it is going to affect on a daily basis!

  • 54. Teacher  |  May 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I am a teacher and I wake up at 4:45 and work m-f until midnight! My Sunday is spent lesson planning and working. If the argument is instructional time why are we discussing lunch and recess? The only way my day will be extended is commuting to a suburban school!

  • 55. Grace  |  May 26, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Hi Teacher.
    You have my sympathy. That is a lot of time and hard work you are putting in. What subject / grade(s) do you teach?
    If you could have your way, is there anything you would want parents to do — for you or for their students — that would cut down on your hours?

  • 56. cps Mom  |  May 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Could having an extra hour in the day actually help with the work load? For example, if you are spending some of that time tutoring or working with kids because class time doesn’t allow going into greater depth….. just a thought.

  • 57. brunettechicagogal  |  May 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

    As others have suggested, a longer school day will be money squandered unless CPS starts focusing on helping to ensure that teachers are making good use of instructional time. Research shows this. Time for CPS and Emanueal to pay attention to substantiated facts instead of tossing around rhetoric.

  • 58. smp  |  June 2, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Our school is voting on whether to extend the school day next week – I think the change from closed campus to open campus of adding the 45 minute day will makeup 5 additional minutes for lunch (total of 20) 10 additional minutes of recess (total of 25) and 30 additional minutes of instruction. I think it will be a close vote but I hope it passes – we were in private school for the last 4 years that ran 8:30 – 3:30 so 9:00 – 2:45 seems rather short of a day.

  • 59. Pam  |  June 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Teacher, you say what time you get up and what time you work until, but not how many hours you are actually working per day or week. How long is your commute?

    Do all or even some of the teachers at your school work a similar number of hours? What kind of results are you getting?

    Personally, I would not continue to work at a job with those hours, even if I had to leave my chosen profession. I vote with my feet when I am unhappy at work and have a choice. When I don’t have a choice I work towards creating one. Maybe you don’t have a choice right now, due to the economy.

    Not trying to start an argument, just trying to understand why you are accepting these working conditions. Are you new to teaching? I have heard it is harder when you are just starting out.

    Hope you can get some work-life balance soon.

  • 60. TIffany Mae Witkowski  |  June 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    The funny thing about what Rham is trying to do, is that it does not need to be done at all. Everyone is complaing that students are not learning as much and that they need more time to learn. This again is not the cause. The answer is so simple everyone is over looking it…Block Scheduling! For those of you who do not know what this is; it’s when you have about 4 classes a day but the class period is 90 minutes, you still have 7 or 8 classes just not all on the same day. This way students will have a chance to actually learn something and spend time learning things in clas. It’s so silly that everyone seems to be over looking this. All that extending the school day is going to do, is increase the number of students ditching..How’s that for a slap in the face?
    Trust me, from a students stand point extending the school day will do nothing but hurt the school day.

  • 61. Grace  |  June 25, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Tiffany — I agree with you. The original idea from the folks at Raise Your Hand was to try and get a reasonable lunch period and recess for the elementary school kids — which makes total sense. Now Rahm has a bee in his bonnet about extending the school year and day!

  • 62. Grace  |  June 25, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Btw, read today’s Trib story on ISAT test scores by Noreen Ahmed-Ullah. Scores are way up, but the spin that Brizard puts on it is that “… we have a little bit of good new.. ” and that it proves — once again — that CPS kids need a longer school day/year.

    The only sane view is from Jackson Potter, staff coordinateor with CTU. He says issues like smaller classes, libraries, art, recess and computer technology have a greater effect on improving student learning.

    I think that CTU, parents and kids are aligned on this issue. The heat in most of the CPS classrooms will present a real obstacle to a longer school year.

  • 63. Grace  |  June 25, 2011 at 8:40 am

    About ISAT scores — the preliminary ones have been out sicne early June. (You can get your child’s from your principal, in case you want to do any tutoring over the summer.)

    From the Trib’s charts, CPS teachers have increased ISAT scores about 10% since 2007 in both Reading and Math!

    In Reading, 69.6% of CPS students meet expectations and in Math 78.2% meet expectations.

    And in the past year, the increase in Reading is 4.3% and in math it is 3.1%, very significant contributions to the overall 10% increase since 2007.

    Those are significant jumps. I’d like to see what other big city can point to this kind of accomplishment. This proves that CPS teachers are doing a good job.

    Now, why do you suppose that the Trib and CPS would roll out this story on the slowest news day of the week — a Saturday????

    Could it be because these scores don’t fit Rahm’s story line?

    — that the schools are failing, and he’s here to fix them with charters? (Not if scores are up.)

    — that a lack of continuity at the top of CPS has undermined the public school system? (The CEO seems to have little effect on how schools run.)

    — that teachers are lazy, greedy and overpaid and don’t deserve their contracted raise? (Seems as though they work hard when adequately compensated.)

    Any way you look at them, the scores are very inconvenient for Rahm, especially if you compare them with the scores of the vast majority of Chicago charters, which are on 2- or 4-year academic probation.

  • 64. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 25, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Um, all the parents I know want a longer school day and a longer school year, no matter how little the teachers and students want to work. Now, this is not a statistically valid sample of parents, but I don’t think it’s right to say that “CTU, parents and kids are aligned on this issue”.

    Also, are the scores really up, or are they playing games with the norming in order to look good under NCLB? That’s my question.

  • 65. Grace  |  June 25, 2011 at 9:08 am

    But I know plenty of parents who want a longer school day, with the kinds of enhanced instruction that Jackson Potter mentioned — recess, art, computers, foreign language, etc. These are the things that make school fun and an enjoyable place to be.

    But I don’t know parents who want a longer school year. If only we we had working air conditioning in classrooms … Truly, nothing of value gets done when it is in the 90s in a classroom, my daughter will attest to that.

    And the scores are up. Truly. But perhaps the U. of Chicago’s Consortium on School Reform should be the place to go to research that one thoroughly.

  • 66. Grace  |  June 25, 2011 at 9:08 am

    But .. but … guess I’ve developed a stammer. sorry.

  • 67. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 25, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Oh, I want a longer school year! Maybe I’m just one parent, but I don’t see anyone in New Trier complaining that 180 days is too long to expect kids to go to school. In fact, my friends up there GASP when I tell them that my kid goes to school from 8:00 am to 1:45 pm.

    If it takes air conditioning to make a longer school year, than let’s address. Or maybe the kids could actually attend school for a full week once in a while? (I Know, a radical idea! A five-day work-week!) Do we really need them to have holidays for Casimir Pulaski Day and Lincoln’s Birthday? Does report-card pickup really need to be a day off of school when the “conferences” are just 5 minutes long?

  • 68. Grace  |  June 25, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I agree completely with you, I am happy to say, CPS Depressed. Or Eyeore, as I like to imagine you : )

    There are way too many school holidays. They seriously interfere with instruction. H-mom had excellent suggestions a while back on how to get rid of the extraordinary number of Professional Development days and the Report Card pick-up days. We could get a whole week that way alone, without dragging the year our into the end of June.

    I’m afraid that Rahm wants to extend the school year in order to keep kids safe and off the streets in the summer, and to cut down on crime. After all, he’s down 2,300 police officers.

  • 69. mom2  |  June 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I think you could add one week to the school year the week before we currently start. Most suburban schools start then or sooner. I agree that it is hot, but one week isn’t much of a difference. (I know some people will say they have a hard enough time getting kids to start after labor day, but that seems like a different issue and we shouldn’t accommodate those parents that refuse to send their kid to school when it starts.)
    I agree that other days could be added by reducing the number of days off as was suggested above. It makes a ton of sense.
    As far as a longer school day, I want a longer one as I also know that the kids in the suburbs have a longer day and I remember my day being longer as a child. We went from something like 8-3:00, but we did have a longer lunch and something like 20 minutes for recess (not 10 minutes for each like kids have now, if any) and the teachers ate lunch with us which was pretty nice to just talk about social things.

  • 70. parent  |  June 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    The cps scores are still horribly low, teachers should be ashamed rather than gloating.

  • 71. cps Mom  |  June 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I don’t know of any parent that feels their CPS child has enough time in school. At a rigorous school you see more and more of the work shuffled to evening homework. There would be much better results if the kids did their work with the teacher rather than at home alone or with whomever. As far as scheduling school as long as possible for safety sake, that sounds like a valid concern to me. Also, there are no jobs for teens this year and limited low or no cost camps and programs. I am finding out first hand how difficult it is to keep the kids away from computer/games/TV….you get it.

    I think block scheduling is a great idea. I’m not sure how that would translate to primary elementary grades. The teachers at our school voted it down, I’m not sure why.

  • 72. Grace  |  June 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I’d definitely like more instructional hours and days. The high school day is already one hour longer than the elementary school day, but both need more days of instruction. I have also noticed the shortened day is a problem, particularly with an accelerated curriculum in math, cps mom.

    But I would hate to lose more of the summer b/c some kids have the opportunity to participate in programs at Marwen, Merit School of Music, Gallery 37, Goodman Theater, Chicago Park District camp counselors and lifeguards, volunteers at the Chicago Public Library, etc.

    I know that I’ve said it before, sorry, but Catalyst magazine does the best in-depth research and reporting on CPS schools. Here’s what they have to say. (BTW, anyone know why CPS gets waivers? Who asked for them? When?)

    “For the Record: Making a longer school year

    Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has proposed lengthening the school year by turning some or all of the 23 days children are not in school into instructional days for students.

    He focused on professional development days–which teachers have said do little to help them improve their teaching.

    A review of the 2011-2012 school calendar shows just eight professional development and planning days. Another four days are devoted to report-card pickup for parents. On two of those days, elementary students are not in school; on two days, high school students do not attend.

    Adding these as instructional days would bring the school year to 180 days, the national average. The only way to add 23 instructional days would be to eliminate holidays and winter and spring breaks.

    Although Brizard’s idea was touted as part of proposed “charter-style changes” to how schools operate, it also mirrors a statewide move just made in North Carolina. There, lawmakers just passed a bill adding five days to the school year by revoking a requirement for five teacher workdays per year. North Carolina students will now be required to attend school for 185 days.

    Illinois’ required school year is 180 days, but waivers have brought the state’s average to 175 days.

    Here’s how Chicago now stacks up against other large districts:


    Washington, D.C. 196
    Fairfax Co., VA* 183
    Baltimore 180
    New York City 180
    Philadelphia 180
    Los Angeles 175
    Dallas 175
    Denver 170
    Chicago 170

    *Fairfax County is outside Washington, D.C.

    For more on school time and its impact on student learning, see the Winter 2010 issue of Catalyst In Depth.

  • 73. Grace  |  June 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Maybe, H-mom, J.C. found your suggestions on this topic spot on.

  • 74. Grace  |  June 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    @ parent “scores horribly low”

    Hey, I might be a nice gal, but don’t just take my word for it. : )

    See Catalyst’s story on the “impressive” ISAT scores that, for some weird reason, CPS doesn’t want anyone to pay much attention to.

    Any way you slice it, when 69.6% of CPS students meet expectations in Reading and 78.2% meet expectations in Math, that is impressive.

    And much of the big gains were made this past school year, before Brizard, after Huberman.

    Teachers certainly weren’t giving their students the shaft, if they could get these results.

  • 75. mom2  |  June 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    @Grace, I agree with you about concern for adding more days in the summer interfering with camp, summer jobs as counselors and lifeguards and schools/classes, etc. However, almost all of these end after the second week of August. And even if they ended one week after that, starting CPS schools one week earlier would still allow students a week before school started. Right now many kids have nothing to do for 3 weeks after these things end.

  • 76. Grace  |  June 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    mom2 — Good point. I wonder what the Catholic schools schedule is, btw? I know they start about Aug 19 and get our 2 weeks before CPS in the spring. I think that they don’t have anywhere near the same number of school holidays interrupting instruction. Wonder how long their elementary school day/year is?

    Do you remember in the 1990s that CPS tried to start school before Labor Day? Many kids simply didn’t show up before then, and b/c funding depends on attendance in the early days especially, CPS switched to a post-Labor Day start.

  • 77. mom2  |  June 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I do remember when they tried to start before Labor Day. I think it is crazy to set your start date later because parents cannot get their kids to school before Labor Day. I think if school starts the last week of August for the next 20 years, after the first year, parents will learn that this is when it starts. To set all policies based on what some irresponsible parents do makes no sense to me. (However, I totally understand wanting the funding based on attendance. Maybe that rule should be approved to be temporarily changed to the 3rd week of school or something in order to accomplish this more permanent change). Not sure what is easier – changing a government rule or changing irresponsible parents. Neither one sounds promising, but I would try for the government rule for the benefit of our kids.

  • 78. Grace  |  June 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Mom2 — think we are talking about a lot of CPS parents, not just some here and there. Again, Not sure but think it is federal money at stake and I don’t know why that caveat was put into the law.

    What do you think if J.C. started by looking at the waivers that Chicago requested (as mentioned in the Catalyst story)?

  • 79. TIffany  |  June 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

    After reading the article about the ISAT scores, one things stood out to me the most…How can they determine if an 8th grade is ready for college or not? Honestly my 8th grade year (aside from moving to chicago) I was more concerned abou fitting in and developing than I was on what college I was goin gto go to. Most of the article refers to younger grade levels not meeting standard. I understand that the way to address a problem with education may be when the students are younger…but why not try some new ideas before completely altering schedules.

    The other thing that just kills me about this ‘innovation’ right now is that no one has thought to ask the students what they think about it! I was apart of an organization that would sit down with the CPS CEO and very rarely would he ask us what we thought about the CPS structure. Given the chance now I would again pitch the idea of block scheduling, but I would also suggest that, as the gentalmen in the article says, a lot of education has to do with class size and resources. Let students feel welcome. I can not begin to tell you how many times I have been in a class and felt as though I was ust a number, and that really changes to outcome of the learning situation.

    And extending the school year? I can maybe see changing the time lot, but giving students extra days seems a bit over the top. If parents and educators are worried about students staying out of trouble…give them something to do! Schools could make it a requirement to apply for a summer job or intership, or even have a freshman welcoming program in the summer that the current students have to hel at!
    It seem to me that those involved in this restructure idea are just doing what THEY think is right. Last time I checked, they’ve already made it through school. I STRESS that the adults in this process NEED to ask students what they think, and just 1 or 2 but school loads. This is something tha tis going to afect a students and they need to have a say!

  • 80. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I know what the kids will say: we don’t need school! We need more days off! There’s too much homework! The teachers are mean! It’s no fair that we have to be quiet in class and can’t text our friends!

    I’m not trusting 8-year-olds to make decisions about school. I’m not sure I trust 15-year-olds, either.

    Parents are the representatives of their children. That’s why the parents’ views matter.

  • 81. Icebaby  |  August 18, 2011 at 7:47 am

    The teachers union did a disservice to elementary students over 30 years ago when they took away their recess! I feel for all those chicago children who never got a break in their day to play. Play time, running, jumping outside with their friends is critical to childhood social, emotional development. I taught 4 years in the CPS elementary schools and had the hardest time getting the kids to settle down and focus. Come on, let´s support the kids in their recess time! Other than that the high schools need better electives and classes. CPS is so behind in teaching kids technology it is scary!

  • 82. cps Mom  |  October 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Why doesn’t anyone ask the students what they think is a good course of action? My sophomore son is surprisingly knowledgeable about the extended class time and has formulated a well reasoned opinion on the subject (I guess kids can really be proactive when given the proper motivation). He is of coarse against the longer school days as are all students I’m sure, but I was surprised when he gave me statistics, statements and news presses that were highlighted. For instance did you know that in 24 hours the human brain forgets 60% of what it learns. At first I didn’t really believe it, (how could we just forget 60% of our day?) but then my son told me that we don’t simply remember 40% of our day, our brains choose the most significant parts of the day (these are things that we can bring up easily if needed, example: if asked about homework it takes seconds to remember. other less important events are either faded away or disposed of altogether). Any work outside of the required homework is something to be praised and I’m glad he can get into politics easily. If my son can make such an educated stance, despite years of having teachers who are gung-ho about the union and a mother who is supporting this extended class time idea all the way, and choose to not lengthen the school time but still hate the union at the same time then I’m sure kids can make a reasonable contribution to this issue.

  • 83. Grace  |  October 15, 2011 at 9:05 am

    I’m probably wrong, but didn’t Emanuel come out and say that high schools won’t be part of the longer day next year, as they are already one hour longer than elementary schools?

  • 84. NATHAN  |  November 15, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    No teachers have enough grading to do and students should be able to have time to educate themselves at home

  • 85. navigator  |  November 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

    In consideration of November’s schedule, it would make sense to eliminate the PD days and other off days, rather than extend the school day.

  • 86. RL Julia  |  November 16, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Grace – you’re back! Where have you been?

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