More Longer School Day News

January 21, 2012 at 12:26 am 266 comments

“Yo, wazzup little dude? Town Hall meeting Monday 1/23 at 6pm on The Facebook!”

The longer school day issue is starting to bubble up in the press.

The Chicago News Co-op just covered the topic:

I think this quote sums up my feelings perfectly:

Wendy Katten, co-founder of the parent organization Raise Your Hand, which favors a truncated longer day and has advocated for equitable school financing, said the district already has been “underfunding the five-hour-and three-quarter day.”

She added: “It’s not that more time wouldn’t be good, but I just think it’s unrealistic with the situation we’re in economically. It seems like ‘la la land’ to think that we can do this properly.”

Someone from my son’s school passed this along and says the comments are interesting too:

The Mayor’s Education Town Hall Meeting is Monday Jan 23rd at 6pm and I’ve been invited to attend and “live blog/tweet” from there (if I can figure out how.)

Don’t forget to submit your questions and VOTE on existing questions here:

I see that the Lincoln Elem people have gotten their question to the top:

#1How do you propose to deal with the high performing neighborhood schools that are overcrowded, for example Abraham Lincoln Elementary? Does your plan inlcude both short and long term solutions? The goal should be to expand on the success of these schools! (*I believe it’s clear that CPS hasn’t quite figured that out yet, right?)

#2Where’s the research behind the Ed policies you push (and why are you doing what Finland is doing?)  (*Finland? do they happen to have a giant population of “at risk” kids to educate?)

#3Do you think the extended school day applies to everyone? Would you consider looking at the needs of each schools’ student population before implementing this policy? (*I like this one, but let’s really think about how CPS would decide which schools are in or out?)

Many of the rest are different twists on the longer school day and school closings.  As I said, I anticipate hearing “Research we have from XYZ shows…” “Parents have told us….” “Portfolio approach….”  “Prioritizing the budget….” “Moving kids to better performing schools….”
I’m not saying these comments aren’t valid statements, it just would be more FUN to get one shocker for the night from Rahm such as ” or “Yes, I’m asking parents to figure out 7.5 hours themselves, suckas!”  Or “100 new gifted/classical schools coming soon!”  Or “I am a golden god!”

Frankly, I’m still mixed about the longer day.  If I thought my kid would actually learn more, fine.  I just priced a math tutor today.  $125/hour.  I’m still laughing.  If they keep my kid at school 7.5 hours a day and I still need to pay $500 to teach him math, that ain’t working.  He’s still going to be 1 of 28 kids with 1 teacher trying to explain goofy Everyday Math, just for maybe 15 minutes longer.

If he gets to do some deeper, richer, interesting things at school, maybe that’ll make him hate Mondays less and it’ll feel fine.  Maybe he’ll get some unstructured time where he gets to talk to his classmates socially an not get shushed (the beauty of our current 6.5 hour longer day with lunch/recess.)

I agree with those who feel that resources (ie longer day) should be directed at the schools with more “at risk” kids/low-performing schools.  Do you really feel like it’s possible that CPS could implement this?  Won’t parents at high-performing schools scream that their kids are somehow getting the short end of the stick?  Will teachers want to work at the 7.5 hour schools?  I think it’s a sensible solution, just not sure how parents would react.  Also wondering how bussing will work if schools don’t have staggered start times.  It’s just a lot to think about and I continue to feel like CPS is a do-it-yourself school system.  Maybe I just have to accept that as a fact of life in a large urban district.  I still can’t fathom living in the suburbs so I guess I have to find a way to make it work.


There is a group of parents at Mount Greenwood Elem and also organizing a letter-writing campaign.  Feel free to join them or organize your own:

ATTN CPS Parents: Parents from MT. Greenwood School are doing a stuff n sign campaign Tuesday the 24th from 1-3 in our cafeteria, we would encourage ALL cps parents regardless of what school your children attend to come and sign the letters and petitions we have written. We will then forward them to the Mayor, City Council, CPS board president and CEO Brizzard. If you cannot make it send me an email at and I can forward you the letter to print out and send.
Thank you,
Parents of the 19th ward
This SixPointFivetoThrive group also has an online petition:

Let us know if your school has discussed the topic at all….

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Longer School Day Mayor’s Education Town Hall Meeting Tonight 6:30pm on Facebook

266 Comments Add your own

  • 1. second time around  |  January 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

    $125/hr for tutoring??!? #&@* That’s outrageous and people should NOT be charging that much.
    I agree with you on a much better solution being to invest the money in schools with students who need the most help. I would not feel short changed. As a former teacher, i know many teachers who would work a longer day if they were compensated for it. I also know teachets in the communities who need the most help who say they need their down time to decompress at the end of the day because the environments they work in are extremely stressful. Teacher burnout is a reality. These teachers don’t want the longer day.

  • 2. anonymous  |  January 21, 2012 at 1:30 am

    In the early grades tutoring usually isn’t very difficult. Btw, unless he has cut this, for years there used to be a Teachers in the Library program. They helped kids with homework for free after school. Really nice.

  • 3. anonymous  |  January 21, 2012 at 1:31 am

    If we want an equitable system, then we should turn our attention to the kids who need it the most, imho.

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  January 21, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Yeah, I was reeling from the tutoring price. I expected around 45 and hour which I thought was high. I assume the place is geared towards kids learning the harder math and the parents aren’t able to teach it. Obviously, with my son’s math I understand it, I am just terrible at teaching it to him (especially in the Everyday Math way) and we always end up in a big screaming argument.

    As I may have mentioned, he is in 3rd grade, doing 5th grade math and they totally skipped 4th grade math. I think it’s insane and one of the ridiculous parts of the gifted program – the focus on acceleration rather than deeper learning. Of course part of the problem is him not paying attention in class, so that doesn’t help.

    I just don’t know how 1 teacher can get 28 kids caught up after skipping a whole year/book/lessons of math. Also, the kids don’t have a math book to bring home so I can see what was taught and how it was done. I’m going to try to order one, but Everyday Math has about 800 versions of everything and it’s very difficult to find the new Common Core stuff online. I have a little bit of hate in my heart for the Everyday Math company who must be raking it in via workbook sales, make up their own proprietary names for everything math-related — but don’t make it easy for parents to help their kids learn it.

    But I digress, obviously. To circle back around, I would LOVE to see the longer day used to make sure all kids really learn math at an level where it makes sense to them, not just spewing out the worksheets. But unless there are more adults in the building, I don’t see how the learning will be any different….

  • 5. anonymous  |  January 21, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Don’t purchase EM materials if you don’t have to. There’s been so much talk of replacing the program with something else next year. If I needed math tutoring for 5th grade work for my kid, I’d look into local universities to see if any math ed. majors might do it for $50 an hour or a current math teacher for $75. (or any math major) Tutoring is expensive once you pass the primary years unfortunately.

  • 6. Mom who's been there. . .  |  January 21, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Hope EM is finally on the way out! @4 Rather than hire a math tutor, you might want to afterschool him with a good, cohesive curriculum like Singapore Math ($8 workbook,$8 text each semester). Part of the EM philosophy is to expose the kids to multiple methods to solve a problem so they can find the one they like best. You can always argue, then,that the traditional method is the one he likes best. Also, once he knows how to do the math, you can teach him how to adapt what he knows to jump through the EM hoops. You don’t have to purchase a bunch of EM stuff. If you can buy the Teacher’s Reference Manual 3 – 6 off of Ebay, that will give you an overview of the philosophy and explain strategies EM promotes for solving problems. It’s what I’ve used when I haven’t understood why or what DC was doing in their homework. The goal, for me, is that my kids have deep conceptual understanding as well as mastery of basic operations. Although it purports to build deep conceputal understanding, in my experience, EM doesn’t do that, let alone build the mastery of basic operations needed for higher math.

  • 7. HS Mom  |  January 21, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I think this illustrates a point. Parents with money will educate their kids out of school. Still others have some kind of home schooling going on. While its great to be able to supplement a CPS education, not everyone has that. Even at the best schools there is some portion of the population that gets their sole education at school. A public education system needs to service all families.

    On the other hand, I do agree, in the case of a gifted program where every child in the school tests exceedingly well, hours of time in school is not as important (even though schools like Skinner want it for their programs). It would be interesting to see how these kids fare in relation to smart kids in other schools with extended time.

  • 8. Mom who's been there. . .  |  January 21, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Public education used to a better job of educating its population than it does now. And I believe a large part of this problem is with the curriculum school systems are choosing. My grandparents, who educated in 1920’s and 1930’s were quite disadvantaged; however, with only having completed high school, both were better educated than many college graduates today and were lifelong learners. (By disadvantaged, I mean that my grandfather did not speak English when he entered school, spent most of first grade absent from school after sustaining life-threatening injuries in a car accident and had parents with little education themselves. My grandmother lost her mother ay the age of five, was the subject of a custody war and was moved frequently from household to household (and school to school) throughout her childhood.) They both also graduated from a technical highschool and chose a business/secretarial track. Yet looking back at some of the workbooks and class notes they kept, they both had curriculums that emphasized explicit knowledge and skill acquistion as well as critical thinking. As much as I am a process person and like projects which employ the content and skills my kids have acquired, I think the emphasis on discovery learning hurts kids that don’t have the parental support to fill in the gaps in their education. I think the schools need to move toward a better balance in the curriculums them choose, especially if they’re serving disadvantaged kids. Spending more time doing something that isn’t working isn’t going to make it work any better. My two cents. . .:)

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  January 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Hey, CPS is trying to generate some more “thoughtful” questions for the town hall. I have the site address above in the post. There are a ton about longer day. And I assume they want maybe some bigger picture questions. And probably ones that don’t have an implied “you asshole” in the tone. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 10. another cps mom  |  January 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve tried several times to register at that AskChicago site, but the confirmation email never arrives (not even into my spam box). Sigh.

  • 11. RLJulia  |  January 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Before you buy anything, the EveryDay Math website has tons of stuff on it. My kids had Everyday Math and I loved it – but it only really works as a curriculum if the teacher has been trained and there is buy-in – if not, its a disaster. As for $125 per hour on the tutoring – I know some math tutors and no one is charging that. For the level math you are looking at, I think you could find a high school student who will do just as good a job and charge less -and they might have been schooled in Everyday Math themselves- so they know all the methods that EM uses.

    As for your grandparents Mom Whose Been There – I know what you are saying -however, you have to remember that the curriculum of 80 -90 years ago contained a lot less- there was that much less history to know and since no one cared about the accomplishments of anyone besides white men, your grandparents were exposed to one “classical” curriculum for English, History etc… They didn’t have to know about computers, they probably didn’t have to learn a language. One has to remember that back in the day, it was perfectly acceptable to push the disadvantaged kids out of school all together and just teach the ones who could keep up. Its sounds like your grandparents were smart people who really made the most of their educations, however, if I was to compare my similarly educated grandparents to my kids in terms of education – I’d have to say it was different but not necessarily worse.

  • 12. Mom who's been there. . .  |  January 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    @11 I hear what you’re saying, RL Julia. It is different from in my grandparents’ day, although I could argue they had shorthand, typing and comptometer instead of computers and English was the foreign language they were learning. The big difference, as I see it, though, was they could learn what they needed in school—without support from home. I think that’s much more difficult to do today. I think, by and large, schools ask for, and rely upon, parental support from everything to teaching kids how to read to teaching them to write cursive to buying supplies for dioramas, etc. in a way schools didn’t in the past. They expect parents to do much more of the work than schools of the past did. And while many of us have the resources or wherewithal to accommodate them, I’m concerned about those who do not. I used to work with disadvantaged kids and I don’t see these curriculums giving the kids the basic building blocks they need. I think that is a change for the worse because at least schools did once seem to do a better job than that, even for students who only went as far as the eighth grade.

    My thinking is also influenced by what I’ve seen in my 7th grader’s academic center. The kids in DD’s class had great 6th grades, high ISAT scores and tested well on the admissions test. Yet two-thirds of the kids were placed in pre-algebra because they were not prepared for algebra—and many of these kids have seen C’s, D’s , even F’s for the first times in their lives. Now again, these are bright kids whose grades indicate they had mastered their elementary math curriculum. If they’re struggling, it seems to me that there’s a problem with the curriculum. And that’s a problem that more time spent In school won’t fix.

  • 13. anonymous  |  January 21, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    I am not sure I agree that schools now expect parents to do more of the work than they ever did. It is just now that with nclb, scores don’t get hidden. All kids are tracked, even the ones that in previous generations, no one cared about. I’d have to see intensive research that indicated kids, not just the ones considered valuable, learned more or were taught better. I think we “see” kids failing whereas people used to just simply not look. And to me, that is the only success of nclb. It doesn’t allow populations to be hidden. Kids used to be passed along, remember? (though some may say they still are, which is a good point)
    I know my own mother was in a 2nd grade classroom with 45 other kids and her teacher told her she was stupid. So, she didn’t bother to try with her. Besides the fact that no one can teach 45 1st graders, that is how it worked back then. The kids who learned quickly, did. The ones that didn’t, oh well. Sped kids didn’t get the time of day years ago.
    As for the academic center mentioned, their could be any number of issues. The acceleration could be too intense (wasn’t CPSobsessed just talking about how her son’s school decided to skip 4th grade math altogether–really bad pedagogy), or maybe most 7th graders, even gifted ones, simply aren’t ready to go onto to more abstract math due to developmental reasons no matter how smart they are. Or maybe the A’s they got in 1st-6th grade were kind of inflated.
    And, maybe you are right, maybe there is an issue with the curriculum. I guess what I am saying is there are all kinds of reasons why kids aren’t learning. It is awfully hard to prove exactly why.

  • 14. IB&RGC Mom  |  January 22, 2012 at 12:11 am

    When my daughter had Everyday Math I bought the text books. Without it I had noooo idea how to help her when she came home with a worksheet and questions before I did. I would look at doing that before paying anywhere near that for tutoring. I should check if I still have the 5th grade text book. I did think we were going to do away with it. I like the concept of them doing problems a variety of different ways, but now my daughter doesn’t know how to do math the regular old fashioned way.

    As for the longer day, my 8 year old said to me today “Mayor Emmanuel is going to make the school day an hour and a half longer in September. I really hope he is not mayor by then.” LOL!

    I of course am in support of a longer school day and glad we have someone who can make that happen (while hoping he can find a way to fund it), but realize an hour and a half is probably too much. Especially after these kids have been accustomed to such a short day. I would really support a 7 hour school day. I think lunch needs to be lenghtened and recess lenghtened or added, and they more instructional time. If they can do that well in 6.5, great, if not how about 7? When I was a kid we went to schoo from 8 to 3 so it was hard for me to understand why my kids were only going for 5 hours and 45 minutes.

  • 15. LR  |  January 22, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Goofy everyday math…I love it! That is a perfect description. Although, I have to say, my daughter is in a 2nd grade RGC using 3rd grade Everyday Math and quite honestly, the other parents and I always talk about how it is not accelerated at all. I think it is the right level for 2nd grade…or at least compared to what I learned in 2nd grade. The thing that is goofy, is how they give kids problems that involve material they totally have not learned yet. For instance, my daughter had to find a median value the other day…in a group of SIX numbers. What that means is you have to average the 2 middle numbers, which involves division, which they haven’t learned yet. Plus, they don’t know how to calculate an average. I find myself writing notes to the teacher on my daughter’s worksheets out of aggravation.

    Anyhow, I like the question about looking at the needs of each schools’ student population in deciding a longer day. I’m sure the answer will be “No, everyone can benefit.” But, I would be pleasantly surprised (and shocked) if they were open to considering it. It would definitely make sense, especially given the limited resources they have for implementing a fuller day district-wide. It doesn’t seem like that’s a realistic possibility, so wouldn’t it make sense to put the schools who could benefit the most first?

  • 16. IB&RGC Mom  |  January 22, 2012 at 12:27 am

    @10, I had the same problem. I finally used a different email address (my work email) and registered without a problem. Not sure what that was all about.

  • 17. anonymous  |  January 22, 2012 at 1:08 am

    cps-o, I feel for you.

    My dds went to an rgc that had accelerated the curriculum by 2 years in first grade. A child coming in at a later grade would have to catch up, and that is hard. (imho, accelerating math by 2 years is the trickiest part of an rgc for many.)

    Again, just my imho, I wouldn’t give him extra math to do — since he gets so much homework now. And I wouldn’t use another textbook. But I would meet with the teacher to find out exactly what he missed in 4th that he really needs to know now. And ask for worksheets on those 4th level math topics. She should have them.

    I’m sure you’re tired at the end of the day and so is he. So I’d suggest that you try your best to explain it, take regular chocolate milk & cookies and praise breaks, and work the problems together. You do one, he does one. Maybe you do two, he does one.

    I say that b/c I wouldn’t want him — at 3rd grade — stressing about homework or getting a math phobia. That, to me, is the worst thing to do to a child. And he needs a lot of support, b/c he missed a year of math at a gifted school! But in time he will do really well. As long as he doesn’t get dispirited.

    Maybe there is a great high school student who would help for $25 an hour. If it were a h.s. boy, even better for him.

    Transitions can be hard. Wish you both the best.


  • 18. anonymous  |  January 22, 2012 at 1:10 am

    14 — your 8 year old and I agree!

  • 19. Mia  |  January 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

    A good comparison of math programs:

    I don’t know a single h.s. math teacher/math major who thinks everyday math is a good program. I think its adoption in many suburban schools has helped the Kumon, Sylvan and other tutoring centers immensely.

  • 20. Mom who's been there. . .  |  January 22, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I agree there are multiple issues but I think we underestimate curriculum. I afterschooled DD in math because I didn’t think her math curriculum could get here where she needed to be. It took about 10 minutes a day and I think it was time well-spent. She placed into Algebra and has had no problem with the material. The high schools will tell you that many of the kids are unprepared.

    No school system is perfect and, imo, we’re always making trade-offs. I think I’ve been able, more or less, to make CPS work for my kids but I struggle with idea that it isn’t working for so many others.

  • 21. Mom2S  |  January 22, 2012 at 11:03 am

    @20, your comment: “No school system is perfect and, imo, we’re always making trade-offs. I think I’ve been able, more or less, to make CPS work for my kids but I struggle with idea that it isn’t working for so many others” is spot on and something I think about a lot. I am in the research process for schools and am still on the fence about CPS as an option for my kids. I must admit that reading about all of the constant changes, the lack of money/resources, and now the addition of an unfunded longer day do not make me want to run to my neighborhood school to enroll my kids. My (possibly rhetorical) question for anyone who wants to answer is: Is CPS worth it? Do you regret choosing this system for your child or are you pleasantly surprised about system?

    Maybe that could be a question to ask in the town hall meeting: “Convince me to send my kids to CPS. What do ALL schools (not just the few that can raise $100,000+) in the system have to offer students in order to ready them for life?”

  • 22. North Center Mom  |  January 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    CPS-O, I have two kids who had Everyday Math. Unfortunately, I think fourth grade was a critical year. They learned the EM version of long multiplication and division, and the first real Open Response problems. I think they picked the wrong year to skip. Sorry for your son’s frustrations. It was bad enough doing it chronologically.

    @19, I know a Math Ph.D. who has students who can’t apply their math skills. I don’t know if EM is the answer to that problem, but our kids need to do more than rote learning.

  • 23. Chicago Gawker  |  January 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    The RGCs skip Grade 1 EM and go right to the 2nd grade book. This makes no sense based on what OAE says about how the Options program admissions are based upon ability, not achievement in the lower grades. You’re a smart 1st grader so you can just skip a whole year of instruction? I don’t think so, especially if you went to a play based K. They gave my 1st grader an ‘F’ in math at Beaubien with no opportunity for tutoring, walking to the neighborhood 1st grade for Grade 1 EM or anything. It was up to me to bring her up to speed. For years she was convinced “I’m bad at math”. Now at a private where they do not use EM in her grade and for the 1st time, she makes As and Bs. The success of EM as program depends upon trained teachers and very involved parents, which makes it an unsuitable program for most of CPS. Many, many teachers I’ve talked to loathe EM, but no one listens.

  • 24. Chicago Gawker  |  January 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    P.S. Cps obsessed we must have run across the same tutor. He quoted me $125per 50 minutes for my to come to his office in Lakeview also. There is still a little drop of coffee on my phone from when I spit out my coffee hearing that.

  • 25. junior  |  January 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm


    Putting in my 2 cents —

    Please go to and vote up the question:

    “Will CPS be compliant with ISBE rules requiring daily PE in k-8?”

    It’s nearing the top tier of questions!

  • 26. anonymous  |  January 22, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I’d LOVE to help bump this one up. But I clicked on the link and didn’t see it. Is it a few pages back?
    Daily PE would mean schools would all have to build at least one additional gymnasium and in some cases, several additional gymnasiums, but I think this is an imperative thing to add to our school day!

  • 27. anonymous  |  January 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Found it.

  • 28. cps alum  |  January 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    @26- click the popular tab. This organizes the questions by number of votes. This question currently has 20 votes.

  • 29. IB&RGC Mom  |  January 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    @21 that would be a great question to ask of a Mayor who sends his kids to private. Of course I don’t blame him, but that would be a great question!!

    Also for those of you who feel strongly about it, also vote on the tier system question…

    Why is the tier system in place and is it accomplishing what it is set up to accomplish? Do you feel it is fair that kids who live in tier 4 neighborhoods (no matter how rich or poor) be held to a much higher standard? They need to have near perfect scores to get into the top selective enrollment high schools while kids who live in tier 1 (who may even come from homes with a higher income) can get as much as 90-100 points off of the 900 and they can only get 9-11 points off.

    It is right now on page 3 of popular.

  • 30. cpsobsessed  |  January 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks everyone for all the math tips. I have a potpourri of math books (because when you don’t know what to do.. go online and shop!) I have Everyday Math and Singapore Math. Gotta say, so far I am liking the Singapore Math a lot (probably more close to how I learned math so I am biased.)

    I think Everyday Math has some good qualities… they seem to take a bit from Montessori but it is SO not as good without the hands-on materials. I also agree with whoever said that EM takes well-trained teachers and is probably not the best system for CPS. I feel my son’s teacher is good, but with the “spiraling” and the different learning system and goofy names they have for everything, I think it would be better suited for smaller classrooms. And i TOTALLY remember that median problem from last year coming out of the freaking blue!!!

    I also appreciate input from a real teacher on how to work with my son. Just the fact that you said it was ok for me to do some of the problems for him is so freeing. 🙂 I feel like I’m enabling him too much, but I do recall from when he was in a Montessori Pre-K the teachers said that he learned through observation. (I felt it was paying $8k a year to have him watch kids do stuff, but whatever.)

    I also tried more frequent praise today and that helped too. He would really like a parade to celebrate finishing his homework each night, but I really feel like my fresh approach helped. Thank you very much. We still fought a lot, but I think I’m getting closer….

  • 31. IB&RGC Mom  |  January 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I don’t miss the days of watching my daughter doing a long problem with lattice multiplication and being like “What the heck!”

    Even after she tried explaining it to me!!

  • 32. Against longer school days?  |  January 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I am shocked, SHOCKED, at these protests against the longer day. I thought this was one area we all agreed on! If people are against it due to costs I get it but there is no other possible sensical explanation. If you are against it because you think Muffy and Buffy can’t take a longer day you’re an idiot. Full stop.

  • 33. Facts please.  |  January 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    @Mom who’s been there: Can you please offer some proof to the statement: “Public education used to a better job of educating its population than it does now.” Please. Everyone wants to believe your statement, and many write it, but no one ever has anything to back it up. I suspect you and the thinking behind that statement are wrong.

    Just like the thought that American’s used to test well in international math and reading tests. We never have. Ever.

  • 34. CityMom  |  January 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    @21 — To answer your question — no, I don’t think CPS is worth it at this point in time. I hope that it is some day, but right now it seems to be in a constant state of turmoil. My daughter spent 2 years in CPS…Kindergarten was good and I felt like she learned a lot. 1st grade was a disaster and felt like a waste. Not only because she didn’t learn much, but because her teacher was so mean to her that it set her back emotionally to the point that I decided she would not go back to that school no matter what. I would have home schooled her if I had to, but fortunately she got into a very good private school and we both could not be happier. It is like night and day in terms of the school-experience, honestly. The differences are much bigger than I even thought they’d be (and that’s coming from someone who was pretty down on CPS when we left). We turned down a spot at a RGC to go private and haven’t regretted it for a minute (she was at a magnet, but tested into the RGC for this school year).

    Honestly, I would love it if she could go to a CPS school, but right now I cannot send her to one in good faith. Even the SE school she got into had aspects that I was wholly uncomfortable with and I didn’t feel like it would be enough better than her magnet to warrant a move. I also don’t want to move her again, so I made the choice to go private with the intention of keeping her where she is until at least 6th grade. We may try for an AC slot for 7th, but right now I’m just so relieved to not be on the CPS roller-coaster, I think that I’ll be very reluctant to jump back on.

    Just my 2-cents.

  • 35. cpsobsessed  |  January 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    What gave you yhe idea that the whole city agreed on a 7.5 hour schools day given the current budgets? I’ve seen people objecting to this for months now. Yes, some support it. My sense is that many don’t.

    RYH report that more community groups are joining in against the 7.5 hours.

    One thing I have seen (seemingly) unanimous support for is going beyond the 5.75 hour day.

    The question in HOW long.

    CAN kids do it? Yes! Can they also work 10 hour days in factories? Yes!

    Does their youthful stamina mean it”s the right decision?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 36. anonymous  |  January 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Our kids are at a wonderful CPS magnet and their education has been stellar in every single aspect. But being a part of the system is not worth it. We are leaving for a suburb this summer. I can’t say I regret starting them in CPS, but I no longer want to continue.

  • 37. cpsobsessed  |  January 22, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Been thinking about what CPS offers most of the day.
    I think it comes down to a tradeoff. You want to stay in the city, you are frankly trading off something. As part of CPS, you’re part of a meagerly funded large urban school system that has to educate a lot of low-income kids. To me, the tradeoff means that we get less “stuff” (enrichment, supplies, etc) and are stuck with some less-than ideal situations (bigger classes, bureaucracy, one-size-fits-all policies.)

    To make it work, IMO, you need to be willing to put something in. Time and efforts at the school. Money at the school. And/or time with your child to make up for the big classes.

    To me, so far, the trade off has been worth it. I’m not a suburb person. I just can’t fathom it, although I’ve thought a lot about it, for the schools. As the work gets harder for my son and I get overloaded as a single-working-mom who doesn’t get home until about 6:30 every night to help a child who has been at school from 8:30-5:30 and is fairly pooped/cranky, it starts to feel a little oppressive. If I thought 7.5 hours at school would “fix” it, I’d be all for it. I’m too skeptical though. I envision the same at-home time on top of the long school day. For him to learn the way I want him to learn requires a some one-on-one time working on homework, reports, reading, etc. a few nights a week.

    Admittedly, high school is another ball of wax. I think most would agree that the SE high schools are a great route for college prep. But are any other high schools going to cut it? Unknown.

  • 38. CityMom  |  January 22, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Yeah…I have a 2nd grader and have already started thinking about H.S! Sounds somewhat silly, but it’s necessary IMO. I’m also a single mom, work full-time and will never move to the burbs. So, I’m just planning ahead.

  • 39. RLJulia  |  January 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Interesting exercise to think about what CPS offers. Well, it has offered my kids exposure to a lot of different things and peoples and cultures that they wouldn’t get in the suburbs. It has offered them (and me) countless opportunities for better or worse to learn how to navigate a bureaucracy. Generally, they have had the opportunity to have some amazing teachers. As they have gotten older, they have the opportunity to test into some of the best schools in the state – if not the nation. They have (whether they have liked it or not) learned how to compete but also that competition isn’t everything – or an excuse to be mean. They have learned that they are in charge of their learning and that it is at least partly up to them to seek a good education from their teachers and their school – that they can’t expect things just to be given to them (at least as they get older). They have learned not to take things at face value. They have also learned that they are lucky – some of their friend’s and classmate’s lives are visibly more complicated than their own. Some of these lessons are sort of hard lessons to learn – especially in 6th and 8th grades but better now than later…. I guess.

  • 40. Mom who's been there. . .  |  January 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Sorry, @ 33, I’m not all that interested in proving anything to you. I was sharing my observation that somehow my grandparents, who faced disadvantages not unlike those some kids face today, managed to receive good educations, become accomplished people and lifelong learners, by going to public schools. You can do with what you may.

    If you wish to look further then my own anecdotal experiences, you might check out, where Katherine Beals regularly runs current math curriculum side by side historic or international curriculum. You decide what you think about which promotes a deeper, more rigorous mathematical education. You might also look at the article, “King’s Message: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste” by Peter Meyer via but again this is context, not the facts for which you’re looking.

    I wish I could whip out a study or two but unfortunately I don’t think this is the kind of research most institutions want to fund. Why prove we used to be able to educate various populations better in the past? If the old means, methods, curriculums are in some ways better than the new, what does that mean for today’s education departments? Text book companies?

    The process of understanding what’s going in education first began for me when I had to ask, why can’t my kids go to the neighborhood school? I’ve been trying to figure that out ever since. Along the way, I have come to believe that we used to do it better. Somehow we managed to educate huge immigrant populations without asking for any help from the children’s parents. Somehow we gave them enough of an education to give them opportunity. Maybe it was an eighth grade education. Maybe it was a high school education. But it was enough so that many learned read, write, budget, become citizens, find a place in society. Perfectly? Perhaps not. All of them? No,not all. But I’m not sure we can say the same today.

    Maybe I’ll change my mind when the teens at the skating rink stop asking my mom if they can have “two quarters for a dollar,” so they feed the vending machine.

    Of course, I’d welcome any facts you could provide that would prove otherwise. 

  • 41. Anonymous  |  January 22, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    30 cps-o — I’m so glad to hear that homework is going more smoothly for you both. You both deserve a pat on the back. Don’t forget to celebrate — maybe a dance around the living room rug or a joke of the day. All the best.

  • 42. Anonymous  |  January 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    21 I’ve been in CPS for 11 years now. My two have been in 2 different rgcs and one is in a top s.e. with all the pressure that entails. Both are doing well. But was/is it worth it?

    There have been so many system-wide problems. The first rgc principal targeted one child. We transferred. A higher up in CPS tried to move the second rgc to North Lawndale over a January weekend and only getting to Mayor Daley could stop it.

    Now we have a mayor who is keen on closing libraries, mental health clinics, and pushing through a long day, long year with no funding that will lay off masses of teachers and replace them with low-level employees and computers.

    So no. If I had any idea of what was to be in store for us, I would never have pursued a CPS education. And now that we have the mayor we have, there is no one to go to with the hope that he will listen to his constituents.

  • 43. LR  |  January 23, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Going back a bit…as much as I like the idea of 5 days of P.E., it isn’t feasible, which is most likely the answer we will get. However, since we will probably have a longer day, I would be thrilled (and so would my daughter) if they could have even one extra day of P.E.

    @21: I like the CPS school we go to – but my daughter is in a great RGC. I haven’t regretted leaving a private school we loved, until this whole 7.5 hour day thing came up.

    If my daughter had not gotten into the program she is in, I do not think I would have left our private school. At our private school, she would have most likely gone ahead a year (fall birthday, combined with the fact that she was light years ahead), so I didn’t really even consider anything but RGC’s. My younger son is still at our private school and I really am thankful for the times that I can just walk into the Principal’s office when I have an issue. I like the fact that class sizes are capped at 25. I like the after care program (Even though I don’t use it, it is nice that it is there. The CPS my daughter attends does not offer after care). Most of all, I just like the fact that if you really aren’t happy about something, it is easier to affect change. Then again, that should be the case when you are a customer.

  • 44. Anonymous  |  January 23, 2012 at 5:11 am

    I would never recommend to a young couple now that they stay in the city if their children must attend CPS schools.

  • 45. Anonymous  |  January 23, 2012 at 5:12 am

    9. So funny, so true. The implied “you asshole” is, unfortunately what they are getting b/c of how they treat parents.

  • 46. Anonymous  |  January 23, 2012 at 6:03 am

    29 — Do you remember reading last year that Mayor E. lives in a so-called tier 3 district?

  • 47. anonymous  |  January 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Here’s another question for Rahm: By which date are you going to announce to families that the school year is going to start two weeks earlier than typical? Teachers have been told the year will be extended by ten days and that likely this will mean a return to school in Mid August. I believe some parents know this, but many don’t. I wonder how this will impact all the families who leave for their country of origin for the summer, like most of my students, and for folks who have already booked vacations?

  • 48. AnonymousAnonymous  |  January 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

    @47, I’ve heard this too (that the 2012-13 school year will start mid-August), and am thrilled.

    It’s impossible to find camps open that late in the year.

    Thanks Rahm, for making this happen!

  • 49. Esmom  |  January 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

    As someone who left CPS in 2010 when my kids were in 3rd and 4th grade, I can now say it’s not worth it. As much as we loved our school and our life in the city, it wasn’t until we left that I realized how stressful that life was.

    In the end it was the oppressive anticipation of the high school process that finally did me in. It was also realizing that just because I preferred the city didn’t mean that my kids had to suffer if we did in fact have the means to move to a better (i.e. suburban) school district. I know how lucky we are in that we were able to sell our house in this dismal market and purchase a new one in a top school district at a great price.

    My kids are in heaven, happier than I could have ever anticipated. School, with its astonishing level of resources in comparison to CPS, has been like a candy store to them. Their lives are so much more carefree. As for me and my husband it’s been an adjustment but nothing to complain about. It’s fine. As for the diversity issue, the ‘burbs are becoming increasingly diverse and it’s evident in the kids’ school, more than I would have imagined.

  • 50. klm  |  January 23, 2012 at 10:12 am

    @11 and others….

    As far as the idea that there was once a “Golden Age” of public education when kids on average learned much more than kids today…virtually every historian that studies these things will tell you that is a total myth. Yes, in certain instances, some striving immigrant groups (think Jewish immigrant kids in places like Lawdale before WWII or the Lower East Side in the 1890-pre-War period, etc.) went to public schools and “leap frogged” into the middle class (also, think of asiam immigrant kids today, even those from working-class/low-income families that attend urban schools). Now, people look at these same schools and see what a disaster they are –failure factories and bastions of mediocrity. The contrast couldn’t be more great.

    However, think about African-Americans in the South, where most lived until the Great Migration (underfunded schools, teachers themselves fequently not well educated, legal and social racial artheid reinforcing black socioeconomic inferiority…etc.) , whites in the Appalachian region, etc. These populations always had crappy schools that virtually never provided the skills needed to move out of the lower classes. My own maternal grandparents went to country schools in Alabama and the hollers of Kentucky (typically for 4- months a year and then only a few years, as was the norm) –they were ‘smart’ in many ways but totally ignorant education-wise (unable to grasp how things worked because they had no knowledge whatsoever to create contexts, etc).

    Let’s not forget how bad CPS schools were a decade or a few ago. From what people tell me and from what I hear, virtually anybody that stayed in Chicago and was middle-class and above went private (with a few exceptions –I know somebody will write back about how their spouse went to CPS in the 1970s and then went to Yale and is now a neurosurgeon, but these kinds of stories are exceptions not the rule ). There were no RGCs, LaSalles, Hawthornes, Whitney Youngs (until mid-70s), Paytons, Northsides, IB at Lincoln Park, etc.

    Really, think about it: Yes, Urban public schools have a well documented and studied problem with achievement and learning (this is nothing new for this country’s minority population –it’s always been that way, sadly). but overall does anybody really believe that New Trier, Lake Forest, even regular schools in Downstate small towns are so much easier and/or less thorough –with all the AP classes, testing, increased competition just to get into the University of Illinois/U-C, never mind Northwestern or Swarthmore (all those highly qualified kids that get 30+ on the ACT, etc. and worked very, very hard to get into the College of Engineering at U-I would find it hard to believe that their education was somehow ‘easier’ or less thorough than it was 2 or 3 generations ago, if anything some people may argue the opposite).

    I’ve known and worked with lots of older people over the years. Many were clearly not well educated.

    Thing is, the economy has changed so much that the “sins of adolescence” (not doing well in school or dropping out, being enrolled at a ‘failure factory’) or an inadequate public school education are so much more detrimental to income and well-being than in the WWII-early70s. Even uneducated, functionally illiterate Southerners (black and white) used to be able to move to Chicago and Detroit and get jobs in steel plants and auto factories that paid good wages that made people feel “middle class” without even a good education or abilty to properly write an essay or cover letter, program/understand advanced manufacturing software, etc.

    Not any more.

  • 51. Mayfair Dad  |  January 23, 2012 at 10:42 am

    @ 35 and others.

    Based on many conversations I have had with CPS parents, most express support for the longer day — and then quickly follow up their statement of support with a question and a shrug about funding.

    Not sure I can get behind the “shorter longer day” position as I think this plays into CTU’s negotiating stance, but I do want to know where the money for music, art, recess, phys ed, biology labs, computers, etc. is coming from. CPS will need to fund more not fewer teaching positions.

    Ultimately our lawmakers need to devise a better mechanism to fund education in Illinois. While I think most taxpayers would concede they could be paying a little more towards public education, we are disgusted by decades of waste and corruption. I don’t want my tax money making Juan Rangel any richer than he already is, and I don’t want my tax money to be thrown into the bottomless abyss known as public employee union pensions.

    Show me a plan that benefits children – every child, not just at-risk because children from non-dysfunctional families should not be penalized – and I can get behind that plan. Is it possible to talk about funding education without enriching unions and charter operators? That’s the conversation we should be having.

  • 52. IB&RGC Mom  |  January 23, 2012 at 11:02 am

    @46. Oh I do. My mom lives not far from there and that is where I grew up. I could not afford to live there now, but I bought a home for much, much less in a supposed tier 4 neighborhood. Still waiting for them to update the tier map.

  • 53. CuriousGirl  |  January 23, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Three of my four kids late last week told me that next year’s school year will begin in mid August. Really? How did I miss this?

  • 54. Eric  |  January 23, 2012 at 11:58 am

    @11 RL Julia

    “One has to remember that back in the day, it was perfectly acceptable to push the disadvantaged kids out of school all together and just teach the ones who could keep up.”

    This still happens everywhere.

    It’s well documented that many charters don’t actively provide services for children with special needs thereby pushing out the historically lowest test takers.

    Another case was at Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone in 2009 when they got rid of the entire 9th grade class for low scores.

  • 55. junior  |  January 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    @54 Eric

    “Widely rumored” is not the same as “well documented”. Can you provide the documentation?

  • 56. c.l. ball  |  January 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    @47 They better not start the school year in Aug. until they have installed AC in every single classroom.

    They could wipe one week from the Xmas break, and get rid of 3 professional days & 2 report-card pick-up days.

  • 57. cps alum  |  January 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    The guidlines are out in the new CPS press release.

  • 58. klm  |  January 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm


    From what I understand, there’s all kinds of rumors about what CPS will do in order to add the 10 extra days it wants for academic year. Starting a couple of weeks early is a possibility, I guess. At a LSC meeting a couple of weeks ago, a CPS official mentioned that CPS is considering making all CPS schools “year round”, which may involve a mid-August start date (if that’s the case, please tell me CPS will get airconditioning system-wide!). A year-round schedule sounds awful at first thought , but maybe it wouldn’t be so bad in practice.

  • 59. kiki h.  |  January 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I personally love the track e schedule. My kids aren’t on it, but the kids next door are. By the the first week of August, my kids are squabbling. No matter how much I try, they do forget some of what they learned the previous year. I love the idea of having a nice break between quarters. There would be more flexibility in scheduling family vacations.
    I know a lot of parents would be up in arms about it, but I think track e is a great schedule. And it’s really not year round school. I would be much more willing to accept “year round” school than a 7.5 hour day.

  • 60. day too long  |  January 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    @59 kiki, I’m also all for a longer school year, as opposed to a 7.5 hour day. Growing up overseas, our school year was over on June 30th and began September 1st. Also one week of winter and one week of spring break. No teacher in service days ever. Few national holidays. School did not go past 2pm till the middle school.

  • 61. CPS etc  |  January 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    @55 Junior – The guy with the best documentation of students with disabilities and charter schools is Rod Estvan of Access Living. Give him a call for info.

  • 62. anonymous  |  January 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    @57, yeah, that’s been out to staff for a while. I look at the 140 minutes of required enrichment, music, PE, RTI interventions and have to laugh though. 60 minutes will be in the cards for kids to have specials (music, PE, etc.), but I can’t envision CPS paying for additional materials or curriculum so I, like other teachers in the system, can teach really interesting, in depth lessons in the arts or whatever. This means the additional 80 minutes will be all RTI and test prep. Imagine, kindergarteners filling out bubble sheets. Yep, that is our future. More phonics worksheets, cause god knows they are cheaper than purchasing some great Art curriculum and supplies or additional science units with materials!
    I do envision this: starting in 2013 and 2014, teacher ratings will be based partly on their students test scores. I actually support this. (I would not support it being based completely on scores) Principals ratings are already being tied partly to how their school as a whole scores. But the result of that will be even more pressure to get the bottom 50% of kids up to grade level. Again, not entirely a bad thing. But the pressure will be enormous, their will be more testing than now, there’ll be more worksheets, more homework, more kill and drill. And I worry that system wide, all but the very best schools with the most parental funding and support, that schools will not be able to implement anything enriching and interesting.

  • 63. cpsobsessed  |  January 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I’ve abandoned the Town Hall to watch from home. We got put in the Overflow Room and the school couldn’t give us wireless access. Easier to watch from home if I can’t even see Rahm’s face.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 64. Mom  |  January 23, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Dear # 62, really? Do you imagine yourself a great teacher? The best you can come up with is “bubble sheets”? There are no materials, so you just “can’t” teach the arts? Really? Can’t you just teach them to the best of your ability? What, god forbid, do they do in countries that can’t afford “materials”? Your response is just gross. You can do something. You may not be able to do the most you could do were circumstances different. But, why won’t you try, given what circumstances are? Unions just beget greedy, ridiculous behavior, IMHO.

  • 65. anonymous  |  January 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    #64, uh, yeah, with no paint and no paintbrushes I can’t teach art. With no clay or playdough, forget sculpting. With no paper (yes, really!!! most schools do not supply enough paper) I can’t do much. If the school doesn’t supply the basics, and parents don’t either, what exactly would you have me do? Should I buy it myself? I could show art pictures on the lcd screen, but, oh, wait, I don’t have one.
    Science? Ever tried to teach a plant unit without cups, soil and seeds? My school doesn’t supply those. Ever tried to teach about magnets without actual magnets? You really think schools, all schools, have those things? Wow. You don’t get into schools a whole lot do you? Especially those not on the northside close to the lake.

  • 66. Mom  |  January 24, 2012 at 12:02 am

    **content deleted**

  • 67. CPS_Parents  |  January 24, 2012 at 2:23 am

    For those who pulled out of CPS and went private or to the burbs, where did you go specifically? (Schools in the city, specific suburbs) Thanks.

  • 68. anonymous  |  January 24, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Wow, let me restate your points so far—- so unions are greedy when they expect school districts to provide basic curriculum and materials. Teachers are gross when they resent being handed standardized testing materials, like bubble sheets, from the board of education and being mandated to use them instead of something useful. And I must be old and lazy because I can’t figure out how to teach something with absolutely nothing. Got it.
    Never mind that my running total out of pocket costs for the year is close to 2K already. Never mind that I had to purchase my own copy machine at home because my school won’t provide what I need. Never mind that my 5 year olds, who virtually all came to me in September in serious risk of failure, 70% are now reading, not rgc, not magnet, just regular, neighborhood kids, mostly ESL and more than half at poverty level.
    You know, cause I am lazy and all. Got it. I understand your position quite well, now.

  • 69. cpsobsessed  |  January 24, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Sorry, I am going to delete any nasty and personal posts. We’re not re-hashing the “do teachers work hard enough” debate. Some do, some don’t. Does the union enable some teachers to slack? Probably? Do others work their butts off for 30+ years? Probably.

    I think we would all welcome any clever and constructive ideas on how teachers can stretch that school day without additional funding. I’m trying to help my school figure out that very thing. We fundraise a lot but most of the money is already allocated to other things that parents/the school have chosen to fund. We all sat at a school meeting saying we want more interesting activities for the kids, deeper, richer, more meaningful. I’m certain some of these can come for free, but with 9 months of school to fill up, it would certainly help to have some materials to make it happen.

  • 70. monica  |  January 24, 2012 at 10:05 am

    re: #67

    I have lived in the city limits my entire life; until my son turned 3 and we realized the extent/depth of his special needs. He is now 7 and in 1st grade in district 64 (park ridge/niles). We are thrilled with his school, teachers, support staff, etc. Yes I miss the diversity, culture, shops, but if I need a fix I hop in the car and I’m there in half an hour or so. It was hard at first but now it’s better thanks to some great new friends/neighbors. We see how our son is thriving and we have no regrets.

  • 71. hotdog  |  January 24, 2012 at 11:12 am


    Thank-you! We all know each side of that debate has its own horror stories designed to shock. We’ve all heard them. Personally, I knew a teacher in the inner-city (not Chicago) that proudly went on about how she wouldn’t buy a box of Jell-O (what does that cost –like 89 cents?) for a class experiment since the school was not going to reimburse her and was actually bragging about it at a family function. Ew.

    Also, I know that she is an exception. Most teachers in Urban school districts go into things with their minds and hearts open and deserve praise for their selflessness. Teachers are human beings like everybody else –some are jerks, but most are not. We can’t expect them to be parent, social worker, private tutor, absolute role model, inexhaustibe human robot and saint to kids that are at high risk –it’s not humanly possible. We all want miracles coming from schools with lots of high risk kids, but we have to be realistic as to what any given teacher can do in a single year –even the best of them.

    I see no reason why teachers shouldn’t be given the (reasonable) resourses needed to enrich students’ lives with the extra time given to them by CPS. Effective planning, curriculum design, etc., obviously take time and lots of effort. I don’t blame any good teacher that really wants to make a difference for fearing that CPS will simply force more time onto the school day without enough planning time, money, materials and other resources to effectively use this extra hours added to the school day. Any person at any job wants to have the resources available and a reasonable time frame to implement changes effectively.

    I’m glad “anonymous” cares enough to have these concerns –an indifferent teacher would just shrug and not be concerned.

  • 72. Kristen  |  January 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Finland is frequently in the news because they have one of the world’s best education systems. This is a good, brief article about it:

  • 73. KeepHopeAlive  |  January 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Does anyone know when the letters are mailed to students who took the selective enrollment high school test?

  • 74. Esmom  |  January 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    @67, funny we also are in district 64 now. Love it. Our schools in the city were Audubon for pre-K and then Bell beginning with K.

  • 75. Sunny1  |  January 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I always encourage people planning on having kids in public school to avoid Chicago. If I had know then what I know now about CPS, we would have shopped for a home in a suburb with robust neighborhood schools. The extra taxes would have been worth it and would have included better park district, child care and other options my family needs. I’m a CPS grad, but it was a different CPS. It was probably the last era that had a fair number of OK general elem & high schools. If we can’t gain entrance into an acceptable CPS high school, we’ll go private.

  • 76. anonymous  |  January 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    75 — Seems to be that the general consensus around here is to ditch CPS. Thank you, Rahm.

  • 77. Chris  |  January 25, 2012 at 1:00 am

    “Seems to be that the general consensus around here is to ditch CPS. ”

    Selection bias.

    I dont recall ever having a less than 7 hour school day in either of the private schools or public schools I went to in a non-Illinois, mid-sized city. 7.5, which *will* include the 15 minutes of forced breakfast time and is thus really only 7.25, may be a bit too long, especially for the younger kids (barring three recess periods), but its not genuinely excessive, from an objective standpoint.

  • 78. AnonymousAnonymous  |  January 25, 2012 at 9:12 am

    @76 – The general consensus among parents at my child’s neighborhood elementary school is very much pro-7.5 hours day.

    Recently on this blog there has been a huge influx of new posters seeming to be pro-CTU/anti full-day. Many come straight from the District299 blog’s links.

  • 79. cpsobsessed  |  January 25, 2012 at 9:18 am

    It is certainly interesting to see that parents are split on this one. At my son’s school the parents seem to feel 7.5 is too long, but again, selection bias – that is who showed up for the meeting. I assume other people just don’t feel that strongly about it….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 80. CPSDepressed  |  January 25, 2012 at 9:20 am

    KeepHopeAlive @73, I’m under the impression that the SEHS letters are sent early in March, and that they are sent to the school rather than home. I have no idea why it takes so long when the evaluation is strictly quantitative, but there you go.

  • 81. klm  |  January 25, 2012 at 10:23 am


    Again and again, over the years I’ve read so much about the Finnish model for k12 education as a sort of Gold Standard. They really seem to have done a great job of getting kids to learn ivery well n the classroom.

    Interestingly, I’ve read many times (the WSJ had an article a few years back called ‘Why Finnish Kids Are So Smart’) that kids in Finland typically don’t start school full-time until the age of 7, watch lots of TV, play a lot on computers and with videogames, aren’t necessarily big readers outside of school and don’t get homework until high school –all things that seem to contradict popular American notions about what constitutes the right recipe for academic success.

    Apparently, the Finns have classroom learning down to such a science that kids learn at school everything that they need in the classroom. Educators from around the world go there to observe and learn.

    A guy I know from Sweden with kids at Lincoln tells me even people in Sweden lament “Why can’t our school be as good as Finland’s?”. He’s happy with the quality of education his kids are getting at Lincoln, but his young kids (like so many) are having difficulty doing all the homework given –so much emotional turmoil and stress created around getting it all done. He says, “the schools in Finland have a end result just as good, but without all the homework” that takes away from playing and family time. He mentioned to me: “In Finland parents get to be parents (instead of mean Homework Drill Instructors and Enforcers) and kids get to be kids, instead of 2 people fighting over getting worksheets done”. He has a good point. How many of us have conflicts with our kids about getting all the worksheets, projects, etc., done –it’s emotionally and physically exhausting and often leads to a family dynamic of dread and reprimands relating to school –hardly a recipe for a happy home life, especially on school nights.

    I understand that in a 5.5 or even 6.5 hour school day there may the need for homework to complete or reinforce academic lessons. If the school day DOES become 7.5 hours accross the board, I pray to God that the amount of homework decreases accordingly. How many of us have sat at the kitchen table with a sobbing, miserable 7-year-old because they need to get another sheet of “drill and kill” math or reading done so that they can finally go to bed?

  • 82. cpsobsessed  |  January 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Klm, you pretty much just summed up my life.
    I need to read up on this finland stuff!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 83. CPSDepressed  |  January 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

    The secret to homework: sign your kids up for the afterschool program. They all sit down, do their homework together, help each other, and have a teacher they can talk to if they have questions.

    This is especially important if your kid plays sports, because then the homework is out of the way before practice.

    My kid doesn’t go to after school anymore, but he really picked up good habits when he did. I swear by it.

    And, I agree – if there is a longer school day, there should be less homework. In essence, after school is a way that many families pay for a longer school day.

  • 84. cpsobsessed  |  January 25, 2012 at 10:41 am

    The afterscool homework had been working well but this year the math seemed to bypass the ability of the helpers and he’d come home with it done wrong.
    I think I’m going to start discussing another option though. I heard that some of the kids in his class do the math homework together in afterschool and that could be a better way for him to learn than me being on the verge of squashing him every night in a fit of frustration.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 85. Joel  |  January 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

    @the Finland issue:
    I had the great opportunity to live in Finland for 3 years. The mentality of the people there is amazing; it is characterized by the term “sisu” which means strength of character, pragmatic thinking, perserverance, and determination. It truly sums up the Finns. If you want to know why Finland succeeds in its schools, look no further than “sisu” and you’ll see a big difference in attitude to people here.
    My fiancee told me a story of the recession of 1990-91, which hit Finland EXTREMELY hard. She and her classmates at school ate pea soup for 3 years, every day. This was the meal option. There was no complaining beyond the everyday regular complaining that children do. When I told her what the reaction would have been here, she laughed and said, “Well, that’s ‘sisu’. And besides, if we didn’t sacrifice for our country, our country would disappear.”
    Finns know that they live on the edge of extinction; a country of 5 million, an incredibly difficult language, a difficult living condition. If they don’t work hard and create success, they will literally disappear. This is the mentality of most Finns.
    When that is the mentality, you will work hard. You won’t need much other than your own determination to succeed. Do you see that here on a broad scale?
    If you’d like to read up on Finland, I suggest reading “Under the North Star” trilogy by Vaino Linna. This will give you a deep, provincial, and wonderful understanding of a most unique country.
    Remember, this is a country that repelled Russia after it invaded in 1939, a country that had about 4 million people at the time going against the mighty Soviets.
    The best ending to a book I have ever read was from “The Unknown Soldier” by Linna, about this conflict. The last line was “Although Russia won the war, Finland finished a strong second.”
    Look for this in America and when you don’t find it, it may go some ways towards realizing why America and Finland don’t compare.

  • 86. northie  |  January 25, 2012 at 11:52 am

    “The secret to homework: sign your kids up for the afterschool program. They all sit down, do their homework together, help each other, and have a teacher they can talk to if they have questions.”

    That sounds great – now, if only they offered ANY kind of afterschool program where we are. There are a few expensive “classes” or an extremely expensive aftercare program, but that’s it.

  • 87. RL Julia  |  January 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    In regards to the homework – this is what I did when my kids were in the earlier grades – first – remember your child is supposed to get about 10 minutes of homework per grade – thus in second grade, it should be about 20 minutes of homework (unless the child is really into it). That is what is developmentall appropriate. I would look at the clock and do 20 minutes in second grade and if after 20 minutes the homework wasn’t done, I’d make a decision about how important was it for everyone to continue. If it my kids were tired, etc… I’d write on the paper that they had put in their time and this was how far they got. I also (especially for math) would fill out the worksheets while my kids gave me the answers they worked out in their heads or on a piece of paper since I noticed a lot of the time, it was the writing stuff down that was killing them -not the work itself. Then I’d write on the paper that the assignment had been done orally. Since getting good grades is nice but knowing what you need to know is more important, I never got too into grades untill my kids were a little older – I mean, ultimately, so what if you get a B in 3rd grade whatever – as long as you are learning what you need to learn well enough to make it to 4th grade and understand what is going on. I also tried to make it fun. Let the teacher be the bad cop on this one – I get to argue with them about other things like brushing their teeth mroe than once a week,taking a bath and eating a balanced diet, I was not going to become math nazi as well.

  • 88. AnonoMa  |  January 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Our NW side school offers NO after school programs.

  • 89. cps alum  |  January 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I’m just curious, since I know that many of you work with your children on homework every day, how well the daily homework reflects the current CPS guidlines as outlined in the link below. Do you find that your child has more/less homework? Are teachers assigning more homework (perhaps not correctly calculating how long it takes a child to complete the assignment)? (Look on page 2 bottom left. The page one large print outline per grade CPS trying to suggest “how to be an involved parent.) Will CPS revise this document to reflect the longer day?

  • 90. Chris  |  January 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    “I’m just curious, since I know that many of you work with your children on homework every day, how well the daily homework reflects the current CPS guidlines as outlined in the link below.”

    We’re generally below that, excluding the expected amount of reading, in neighborhood program, 2d grade. The occasional project is the only thing that pushes it up.

  • 91. day too long  |  January 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm

  • 92. Chris  |  January 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm


    Why is everyone forgetting/ignoring the Morning Max effect? That’s been 15 minutes out of our school day this year. And I have little doubt that it will continue in a similar format next year, until someone gives me a reason for doubt.

    Also, why does everyone hammer on the “105 minutes” away from the students time, as if it is currently 0 minutes away from the students. Yes, it’s easy to equate to the 105 minute longer day, but it’s easy because it’s facile and inaccurate. Managed simply (yeahyeahyeah), that added “non-student” time–at least at elem level–will mostly be slightly longer lunch, and recess time, and *maybe* one “special” (hate that term). What’s the grousing about? Maybe if someone complaining about this aspect laid out the details with some precision, it would make sense?

    Finally, cant look at the Rahm pic at the top w/o thinking something like “I owe you some change for you high five”.

  • 93. anonymous  |  January 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I know that homework is the hot button issue, but is it ok to talk about yesterday afternoon’s petition drive at Mt. Greenwood school?

    In 2 hours, 350 people signed in favor of either no change or a 6.5 hour day.
    Only 15 signed in favor of a 7.5 hour day.

    CPS officials Dr Saffold and Tom Connor, Chief of Staff to the CEO, both claimed incorrectly that 7.5 hours was the national average. It’s actually 6.5 hours.
    Other than that, there was an lack of solid answers for parents regarding planning, staffing or funding.

  • 94. Eric  |  January 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    @ 55 junior

    For one, I work with several CPS charter kids in need of services who have yet to get them, nor were they properly evaluated. Their parents don’t have the capacity/resources to enact the protections of IDEA. In many cases the charters don’t have the money or want to provide these services.

    Here’s some docs:

    Check out the complaint in the PDF

    Here’s an example of a pushout:

    Check out “Charters: Students With Disabilities Need Not Apply?” by Thomas Hehir (Harvard)

    Here’s the HCZ piece:

    “The school, which opened in 2004 in a gleaming new building on 125th Street, should have had a senior class by now, but the batch of students that started then, as sixth graders, was dismissed by the board en masse before reaching the ninth grade after it judged the students’ performance too weak to found a high school on.”

  • 95. Chris  |  January 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    “claimed incorrectly that 7.5 hours was the national average. It’s actually 6.5 hours.”

    Cite please. And if not a cite, do you happen to know how they weighted the data to determine the average? Was it just a school district count, or a building count, or a student count?

  • 96. kiki h.  |  January 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Both of my kids have had well over the CPS recommended homework since kindergarten.

  • 97. Chris  |  January 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Ok, found a decent source. In 07-08, the average (seemingly weighted by student or school count) was 6.6447 (std error of .02). And in Illinois it was 6.5–but obviously dragged down by CPS’s prevailing 5.75, however they determined n.

    Range was from Cali and Washington at a touch under 6.25 to Texas(!) at slightly over 7.17.

    So, we aim for a round number slightly over national average, and get 6.75, then add in the 15 minutes for required, in school, breakfast, and we’re at 7.

    7.5 may well be too much, but 6.5, with Morning Max, is still too little. Sure, sure negotiating etcetc, but 7, given total context, seems more sensible than 6.5.

  • 98. AlsoAnonymous  |  January 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    LOL. After school program?

  • 99. anonymous  |  January 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Illinois was not obviously dragged down by CPS 5.45.
    It’s not a weighted average. It’s an average of all the districts.There are a lot of districts, so ….

    Mt. Greenwood’s efforts underline those of Raise Your Hand, which polled over 1,000 parents — 83% wanted 6.5 hours or less.

    Parents don’t want 7 or 7.5 hours. It’s an intrusion on family time and after school activities. It’s not developmentally appropriate for the young ones. There is no funding for special classes like art,music, Foreign language or computers. Many schools lack adequate facilities to support kids in a long day, long year, like air conditioning, or a playground, or a library.

    Check it out.
    http://www.6.5to has great data well-sourced.

  • 100. Chris  |  January 26, 2012 at 7:50 am

    “It’s not a weighted average. It’s an average of all the districts”

    If its not weighted, its largely garbage. An average has a huge potential to mislead in the first place, but when a district of 500 students counts the same as a district of 400,000, the misdirection is guaranteed.

  • 101. Chris  |  January 26, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Also http://www.6.5to is a dead end. Variations dont work, either. Maybe im doing something wrong.

    And “Parents don’t want 7 or 7.5 hours.” is crap. YOU dont want it. Your friends dont want it. Many parents do.

    Mt Greenwood has 728 kids–they actually got responses from 100% of parents? If not, i dont believe that n=1000. And absent a very rigorous poll process and documentation, i find that really hard to believe.

  • 102. anon  |  January 26, 2012 at 8:20 am
    Northside College Prep has a well written petition also against the longer day.

  • 103. Angie  |  January 26, 2012 at 8:36 am

    @100. Chris: “And “Parents don’t want 7 or 7.5 hours.” is crap. YOU dont want it. Your friends dont want it. Many parents do.”

    Exactly. Forget the petitions organized by disgruntled teachers. If you want to get the real results, hold a formal and secure vote among the parents, the same way we vote during the elections. And make sure the parents know that the vote is really for CTU members to continue receiving more money for less work, and has nothing to do with improving the education of their children.

    I’m not looking forward to the time when SE acceptance letters start rolling out. If this site is overrun with CTU shills now, it’s going to really get out of control when a lot of worried new posters start coming in.

  • 104. CPSDepressed  |  January 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

    @102, yes. I’ve been laying low because I’m busy with life anyway, but I’m also tired of the CTU PR people who are here now.

  • 105. anon  |  January 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I have nothing to do with CTU for the record.

  • 106. Joel  |  January 26, 2012 at 9:33 am

    As a teacher, I’ve offered up a suggestion about a longer school year, and I did forget to add that I would be happy to do that for a very small pay increase. My hourly rate right now is $48.82. That’s pretty damn good, and I know it. An increase in days, yes I would expect a slight increase in pay, but nothing outrageous. The CTU is just as corrupt, if not moreso, than the CPS.
    One thing for people to think about regarding longer day: many people agree that depth in learning is as important as breadth. The longer school year allows for depth of learning, while maintaining breadth. The longer school day, as it seems to be packaged, might make some students (and teachers) unable to maintain their high mental level throughout the day.
    But the basic thing is that education in Chicago has become flat-out ridiculous. It’s a moneygrab and a powergrab for so many people. I’m happily leaving the profession at the end of this year, to join the ranks of those like Angie who put in their “12 hour days” (complete with 2 hour commute; is that like our ‘prep’ time?!).

  • 107. watcher  |  January 26, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Ho, ho. So anyone who doesn’t demonize CTU & unionized teachers is a CTU shill? Hilarious!

  • 108. mom2  |  January 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I’ve been posting on this board for a while and there has certainly been a change in the types of posts and the tone recently. It does sound like people from the 299 blog decided to come over here and sway things. It doesn’t change my opinions at all and makes me even more set in my opinions.
    I am a parent of two kids – one in a magnet elementary school and one at a SE high school. I am all for the 7.5 hour day. 8-3:30 sound like fine hours for school. With that time, students can have a lunch where they don’t have to gobble down their food, time for exercise or a break from studying every day (without it all being spent putting on coats and taking them off again), and time for more in-depth learning about a subject rather than just the basics to pass a test. I think that is wonderful.
    In high school, they could use that small amount of extra time to give kids some choices in classes that they normally don’t have time for – maybe an ACT prep class for Juniors, study and note taking skills, consumer education (financial planning, insurance, investing, buying a house, credit cards, etc.), or tutoring. The choices are endless depending on the school and their needs.
    We need to trust the teachers and administration at our schools to use the time wisely and with the most bang for your buck for their type of students. Every school has different needs and they need to determine the best way to use those hours at their school for their students.

  • 109. anonymous  |  January 26, 2012 at 11:03 am

    7.5 hours is a long day.

    CPS has no money for it.

    So no special classes like art, music, foreign language or computers. And no after school programs like chess or band.
    So more seat time, test prep, and testsare in order, with a bit of recess to mollify the folks.

    Principals, teachers, parents and LSCs can’t make something out of nothing.

    We know our children. And Central Office doesn’t.

    We want the decisions about the school made by our school community.

    In one week 500 parents showed up in the middle of the day to express their concerns about the mayor’s aggressive push for a 7.5 hour day — the longest by far in the country.

    This is a lot bigger than you are pretending. This will hurt the President’s re-election and any other politician who goes along with it.

  • 110. anonymous  |  January 26, 2012 at 11:28 am

    watcher, anon, they always blame the union when someone disagrees with the mayor’s school policies, which are, frankly a disaster of historic proportions in the making.

  • 111. Angie  |  January 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

    @108. anonymous: you forgot to add that increasing the school day will cause The Great Flood, Rapture, and the end of the world as we know it, all on the same day.

  • 112. EDB  |  January 26, 2012 at 11:36 am

    My son’s CPS school has a longer than average day now. They do have language, art, music, computers, and afterschool programs (including both chess and band for the record).

  • 113. Mom  |  January 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Our CPS school teachers seem excited by the long day.

    One has said she’s certified in a language not currently offered by the school and she’ll start teaching this language now! How great for the kids and for the teacher to use her un-used skill.

  • 114. dianeb  |  January 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    @110 – thanks for making me smile today. 🙂

  • 115. NotDickens  |  January 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I’ve noticed that Chicago schools are a tale of two cities. Schools with higher income students (including the various SE, etc., schools), tend to have more specials and enriched opportunities. The schools with lower income have fewer such opportunities. It’d be great for parents to be very familiar with the different experience in these two different sets of schools. It would inform opinions (here), I believe.

  • 116. cpsobsessed  |  January 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I don’t know if that is actually true, but I’m curious to hear what others think. Schools with a high share of low income kids get more discretionary funding which can pay for more teachers. I thought those schools tended to have the librarians, gym teachers, etc. I think it is a function of school size as well. Bodies get positions from CPS. So a fully (or over-enrolled) schools gets more positions.
    Lincoln elem may get more but it”s because they are bursting at the seams, not because it’s a well off neighborhood.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 117. Esmom  |  January 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    114, 115…I think parent fundraising plays a big role, and that probably correlates to the socioeconomic makeup of the schools. Schools with higher income students probably raise a lot more funds, which are then applied toward enrichment opportunities. Our relatively affluent school had a “wish list” complied by teachers so parents could choose to fund initiatives that would directly affect their kids.

    Even with all our private fundraising, I was told that only 30% of school families participated in the fundraising efforts. I’d think in lower income schools that number would be much lower.

  • 118. Mayfair Dad  |  January 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    @ Angie 110. You might be onto something. Clearly the ancient Mayans predicted a longer school day would cause civilization to crumble and hasten the end of the world. Their circular calendar only devoted 5.5 hours per day to education.

    Did I mention the ancient Mayans belonged to the International Brotherhood of Municipal Calendar Makers? Eventually barbarian charter tribes from the north conquered the Mayans because they had become complacent.

  • 119. HS Mom  |  January 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    @107 very nice post, thanks.

    What you said about High School is right on. This is exactly what our selective high school will be doing. The extra block of time will be used as you suggest and will provide in school time to meet one on one with a teacher in a subject that needs some extra help. It will also provide kids involved in sports in school time to work on assignments instead of attempting to start it at 10:00 at night. We can hold monthy pep rallies and college workshops. Very exciting. Some parents don’t attend the meetings that explain the benefits and just focus on the “what? more school” aspect.

    Angie – thanks for your perspective. Yeah not only is Rahm going to take a fall but now THE PRESIDENT (dramatic music playing in the background)

  • 120. CPS_Parents  |  January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    @100, @102. The website is The group, 6.5 to Thrive, was founded by CPS parents. It is a grassroots organization. We founded it because we are being told that we will get a 7.5 hour day whether we like it or not. No input. So we created an outlet for parents to share their concerns about the day length. Yes, some want a 7.5 hour day. Others clearly don’t.

    I have a 5-year-old and 4-year-old at CPS schools, so perhaps my concerns are different than others. But shouldn’t all of our concerns and ideas be considered, and discussed in an intelligent, thoughtful way? I don’t like the finger-pointing and accusations, as I’m sure a lot of people are tired of as well. Why can’t the Mayor, CPS, parents, teachers and community members all come together around one table to discuss policies and their implications? I’d rather be a partner than a protester, but I felt I had no other way of being heard.

    At the Townhalls and CPS meetings on the issue, I feel like I’m being talked to rather than listened to–it’s not collaborative. Hopefully the petition leads to some parent autonomy on this issue, and other issues/policies where parent input is an afterthought. If anything, it shows that not everyone is behind the longer day, and maybe we need a better understanding of the plan, the funding and implications before it’s implemented–not after.

  • 121. Mom1  |  January 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    @CPS_Parents #119 – sounds like you’ve never been told “no” before or given a direction to follow. You come off as really entitled.

  • 122. mom2  |  January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    @118 – Thank you. I’m glad you agree. There really can be great benefits to a longer day (7.5 hours) – even for young kids – as long as each school determines what is best for their population of students based on needs, age, etc. The amount of time can be the same everywhere, but the 7.5 hours doesn’t have to be the used the same way at every school.

  • 123. Notanentitledlemming  |  January 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    @Mom1 #120- On the contrary, questioning something does not automatically make one entitled. It’s a duty as a parent to thoroughly evaluate large changes in school policies especially if it affects your child. I read some thoughtful insights from CPS_Parents #119 post. Mainly, why can’t parents be part of the dialogue. Can’t say that I got much from your snarky comment.

  • 124. Skinner North Mom  |  January 26, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Look 120, you have posted snarky comments relating to the Longer School Day under 4 different “names”….Mom, Mom1, anonymous mom and need a longer school day. (Thanks to my entitled sahm IPad, I can tell that its the same user posting with a different name.) Please do everyone a favor and stick to one name. This way we will see you coming and be able to take your snide comments with a grain of salt.

  • 125. IB&RGC Mom  |  January 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Mom2, I agree as well. I think your post was right on. While I would prefer 7 hours, be happy with 6.5, I will take 7.5 over 5.75 any day! It has been too short for too long. Even for those of us lucky enough to have kids in schools that have been mostly meeting or exceeding standards. I hate that everything gets crammed in and kids do not have any breathing room. The 20 minute lunch is ridiculous (especially in larger schools where it takes kids 5 minutes to get to and from the lunchroom only to wait in line). And with no recess (and limited P.E.) at many schools I don’t think our kids are getting a needed break for socializing with their peers. And I do hope that my kids are not coming home with hours of homework once this happens as the battling that we do now is not the quality time I would like to be spending with them once they are out of school. Hopefully there will actually be more quality time with less homework. The teachers at of my kids schools that showed up to the meeting seemed to be on board as well.

  • 127. day too long  |  January 26, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    oops, three articles, I meant

  • 128. Bookworm  |  January 27, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Sadly in my experience many of the schools with higher levels of low income students are the schools without libraries period. Art can be non existent. I can’t imagine the effect of implementation in poorly funded schools of this totally unfunded longer day mandate.
    Also parents (@119)with younger children in the few schools with preschools as part of the program are facing a completely inappropriate day for those under six years old- the day is already far too long for these children.
    Why not let all school staff and families vote per school on the longer day. One size can’t fit all in Chicago there is just too wide a disparity from school to school of funds and ability for parents to mitigate the negative effects for their kids.

  • 129. anonymous  |  January 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Skinner North Mom — thanks for pointing this out!

    Mom, Mom1, anonymous mom and need a longer school day

    Are all the same person all supporting Emanuel’s ed policies.

    Maybe you work for him, too?

  • 130. anonymous  |  January 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    sorry about the shift in pronouns in prior post. ; )

  • 131. anonymous  |  January 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Stand Together for our Children

    We are a group of parents that feel the proposed 7.5 hour school day is too extreme. Parents can download a petition from our website. We also have a survey on there as well you can take:

  • 132. NotDickens  |  January 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    @116 – Yes, that’s what I’ve seen. Not having poverty funds is tough for regular schools (ours asks parents to provide Xerox paper and toilet paper), but the level of parental involvement and the home support at schools with higher income students seems to create a school environment that feels like it has more and balanced opportunities and resources.

  • 133. CPSDepressed  |  January 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    The loss of antipoverty money tends to make the us vs. them situation worse at schools in changing neighborhoods, so it seems. And that’s too bad.

  • 134. foureyes  |  January 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    What is truly sad is that education is becoming corporitized. Look into the Broad foundation. Kids are not commodities. Education is becoming like Venture Capital…under the guise of philatropy. He who robs the schools – robs the Public.

  • 135. mom2  |  January 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    @124, I also agree with you about homework. I forgot to mention that before. I do hope that there will be less homework because they will have had more time to cover things in class and more time to simply help them with individual work while they are still at school.

  • 136. foureyes  |  January 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Just a few thoughts….regarding all of Rahm’s references to Finland…Chicago is not a homogeneous society (as is most of Finland). It is not accurate to compare our city’s society and school system to Finland and expect it to ‘act’ the same. We have a myriad of issues which are not even of concern in their society. (side note: they also have among the highest rates of suicide and alcholism).

    Regarding the plan for the longer school day in HS. In anticipation and working to prepare for the coming school year(s) several select admission HS have submitted plans to the network to be approved for how to spend this extra time. The network rejects the plans (and these plans are well thought out with regard to enrichment activities…not just slap/dash put together). The network (should clarify that it is an arm of CPS which supervises the select admission school where I teach) does not offer reasons why nor suggestion for improvement or what ‘they want to see’. They simply reject the plans. We are trying to work with this…and it is very difficult!
    Were they to state…we would like to see X, Y, Z…this would make sense….but they offer no constructive support.

    The kids at my school are already super involved in so much – I really am concerned about them.

    Anyone interested in more about the longer school day/Brizzard/Rahm/CPS and very concerned teachers and parents might also consider checking out this site
    by Fred Klonsky
    (daily posts from a public school teacher who is just looking at data)

  • 137. foureyes  |  January 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    @133 with regard to HW. (but with a HS perspective)

    with the longer school day, the select admission HS where I teach wanted to add on more instruction time to the idea of the longer day. As a teacher, I am NOT opposed to adding instruction time to cover more information and help the kids get mastery….I want my kids to understand and ‘get it’!

    The CPS network – in our proposals for longer school day… does not want us to add instructional minutes (which I honestly find ironic and really odd – and I don’t think I am the only one who thinks this is odd).
    Nor do they want us to add on a study hall…in which kids – who are struggling – could get tutoring (and kids who are overscheduled with activities/sports/extracurriculars could do work). So…if we are presuming that the thought is for the kids to do more of the academic work in class (thus avoiding HW at home)…this is not at all the logic that is being presented to us (from CPS) based on the intitial discussion/lack of approval of our proposals for the longer school day.

  • 138. HS Mom  |  January 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    @135 – don’t get it. Are you saying that high schools with approved plans are not really approved? Is a “select admission” HS the same as a selective enrollment HS?

  • 139. foureyes  |  January 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Yes…I am talking about selection admission/select enrollment…sorry for confusion.

  • 140. foureyes  |  January 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    @136. We wanted to give the kids MORE instruction (if it is a longer day…after all)…and they did not like that.

  • 141. anon  |  January 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Do you know how many selective enrollment high school plans for the longer day were rejected?

  • 142. HS Mom  |  January 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    You also said that kids could not get study hall/tutoring – not true

  • 143. Future CPS Kinder Mom  |  January 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    My SIL is a CPS high school teacher. She and I were discussing the longer school day proposal. Her opinion is that having year round school would be far more effective in a positive way than having a longer school day. Thoughts?

  • 144. Future CPS Kinder Mom  |  January 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Just FYI – SIL teaches at a west side high school with mostly neighborhood kids (and lots of social challenges like gangs and teen pregnancy) so she was specifically speaking for her school’s situation. I realize that parents of kids at schools like Northside or Lincoln Park might not feel their children need a year round school year but SIL was saying that every time her kids come back from any kind of break they are a mess, and the longer the break the worse shape they are in. I am wondering if a year round schedule might be to the benefit of most CPS kids. Also, wondering if all kids (with the exception of the very few) might not benefit from this type of calendar instead of a longer day? They would forget less during off times and still have time for after school activities or jobs. I would not even be opposed to more days being added to the school year, with the shorter day.

  • 145. Mom  |  January 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    @ 142 — Does the “year-round”, i.e, “Track E” calendar really mean more days in school, or just that the days are spread out differently? And would one way or other make a difference to you? I ask because one time I was counting up days, and it didn’t seem that the number was different for Track E vs. regular– what differed was just when the “off’ days were. For me, one huge problem with CPS is the relatively few days the kids are in school. Literally every other week it is a four-day week. That’s worth fixing!

    The longer school day to me does not bother me. I am appalled that 5.75 hours per day has gone on for as long as it has, frankly. I’m also a bit appalled by those parents who would look a gift horse in the mouth and complain about 7.5 hours. It may not be appropriate for K students (but neither is full-day K in general, from a developmental standpoint — so keep your kids in private until 1 if that matters to you), but for virtually every other kid, it sure beats 5.75! So, I’m scratching my head about the complaints, frankly. Guess it goes to show that someone will always complain about whatever change is made. Sad to me that vocal complainers might ruin it for those poor kids whose parents probably don’t think it’s a problem for their kids to be in school longer. As someone above mentioned, truly a “tale of two cities.”

  • 146. HSObsessed  |  January 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Re: CPS high schools and the “full day”: the CPS site says HS will also go to a 7’30” day, which is an increase of 36 minutes, so I guess right now they have a 6’54” day. I looked up the starting and ending times of a bunch of HS via their websites’ bell schedules and was going to make a grid but didn’t get to it. What I found was the neighborhood high schools in general currently have school days of around 6’54” but the SEHS were already close to or over 7’30”. Whitney Young is the huge outlier at 8’25” per day, starting at 7:05 AM and going until 3:30 PM. Lincoln Park HS was the next longest that I found, at 7’50”, with Lane Tech close behind at 7’45”.

  • 147. anonymous  |  January 27, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    #144, I think those start and end times making “longer” days at SEHS schools include all offered periods of the day. Teachers are not working the 1st period through the last nor are students attending every period. If a high school has, say, 9 periods, they’ll either start 1st and end 7th or 8th, or start 2nd and end 8th or 9th. It is kind of staggered. You probably already know this, so forgive me if I am stating the obvious.

  • 148. HS Mom  |  January 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    @144 – The school day is around 6.54 at SE. There is an early 0 period Academic Decathlon which is an optional extra, not part of the school day. Whitney has an option of 6 or 7 classes. With 7 they have a 7.5 hour day. Someone from Whitney feel free to correct me. As 145 mentions, can’t tell by the bell schedule.

  • 149. anonymous  |  January 28, 2012 at 5:03 am

    That’s the issue with h.s. There is a long commute for many, as the s.e. schools in particular pull kids from all over the city. Then there is just about 7 hours of instruction. Then sports, clubs,. service projects and the commute home. H.S. kids could have a 12 hour day before dinner and homework.

    The idea that the school staff’s plans are overridden w.o. a reason by a central administration that has been overhauled , and now has people in charge who never worked in Chicago before, who don’t know our schools, who are charter boosters, is worrying.

  • 150. anonymous  |  January 28, 2012 at 5:22 am

    My neighbor at an s.e. begins her commute at 4:30 am, b/c of swim practice. It is already a very stressful schedule for kids. Most adults don’t have anything like it.

    How is an even longer day going to make s.e. kids more college-and-career ready? That’s the stated goal, isn’t it?

    Or raise their already high ACTs?

    Maybe there is another reason for the Central Office to mandate for change at s.e. schools, which are so successful..

  • 151. anonymous  |  January 28, 2012 at 7:01 am

    From a blog, Mayoral Tutorial

    “The truth of the matter is that Rahm is building a political machine that is going to strip a vast number of currently working and middle class Chicagoans of their capacity to be working and middle class and he knows it. He is counting on a strategy of division, misdirection, organized money, an inept media and a harried public to make that happen and if things go “awry” he wants the power to slap the taste out of the public’s mouth and he now has that. It is brutal, simple and well within keeping with his past behavior and what loosely passes for his soul or moral center.

    If you believe that a democratic system starts with a social contract, ours being the Constitution and that there are checks and balances in place to enforce said contract; that being Aldermen and the Inspector General and that finally, if everything goes to hell in a flaming, screaming hand basket the public corrects the nonsense by protesting, organizing, striking, voting and being civilly disobedient then the Emanuel Administration should enrage you because it is building a machine to contain, constrain and dispose of you.”

  • 152. Mom2  |  January 28, 2012 at 8:51 am

    @foureyes, I was told that cps doesn’t want a school to simply keep their same schedule and just add 5 or 6 minutes to each class or just add study hall. The want them to be more creative. That makes sense to me. So if the submitted plans were just that, I could see them rejecting it.
    However, if the plans included new enrichment classes, act prep classes, consumer education along with options for tutoring, and maybe a new style of schedule or block scheduling to accommodate that, then I have no idea what they want. I would or will be very dissapointed in all of this.
    Can you share the specifics of your school proposal?

  • 153. Angie  |  January 28, 2012 at 10:34 am

    @149. anonymous: “The truth of the matter is that Rahm is building a political machine that is going to strip a vast number of currently working and middle class Chicagoans of their capacity to be working and middle class and he knows it.”

    The truth of the matter is that Rahm is going to strip the unions of their capacity to abuse the system. They are livid about it, and they are trying to bring him down.

  • 154. Joel  |  January 28, 2012 at 11:52 am

    At my neighborhood high school, we will be using the extra time to add a class for each grade level. The courses will be heavy in SEL and general lifeskills, especially at the 9th and 10th grade level. 11th grade will be test prep, and 12th will be post-secondary options. Nobody is super excited, but nobody is super against it. All in all, there’s a sense of “whatever” that permeates our building regarding the additional time.
    I’m all for the addition of these skills to be taught in school, although some may argue that it is adding a heavier “parental” element into the school; that being said, many of our students would benefit from this type of learning. We do have a music and art program, and we offer Spanish and French. There will be no additional elective course offerings with “Full Day.” The “seminar” class, as they are calling it, will be a forced elective for all students, just like ACT Prep is for our 11th graders.
    Personally, I’d like to see 80 minutes classes, but that sure as sh*t ain’t gonna happen.

  • 155. HS Mom  |  January 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    from the CPS website

    High school parameters include:

    Students will be in school for 7.5 hours each day, an increase of 36 minutes.
    They will receive 6 hours and 8 minutes of instruction, an increase of 46 minutes, a 46-minute lunch period and have 36 minutes for passing and entry. Mandatory home room will be eliminated.
    Teachers will be on-site for 7 hours and 40 minutes, an increase of 9.5 percent from their current work day.
    On average teachers will provide instruction for 4 hours and 36 minutes (276 minutes), an increase of 32 minutes.
    Teachers will receive a 46-minute duty free lunch and 92 minutes of planning time (half of which will be principal-directed) and, supervise passing periods. They will also be required to be on-site for 10 minutes before and after school.

    Schools will receive their budgets over the next few weeks, including funding that will help them transition to the full school day.

    @foureyes – what you say is a direct contradiction to the CPS statement and to what has been confirmed at our SEHS through the LSC, Freinds of and at a special presentation meeting to all interested parents and students. @150 Mom2 is also reiterating the policy as we have accepted it at our school. Any substantiation?

    @148 – you should know that being involved in sports at a selective college prep HS is very challenging. These kids are not aspiring to be professional sports figures they are working to achieve admissions to top colleges and professional careers. My teen takes honors and AP and it takes longer to do homework/assignments because that’s the way he is. There is no way that he would have time for sports and getting up at 4:30 after working until 10 or 11 or longer is not an option for us. Other kids are different and can do it or take a more moderate class schedule. The new 2012 schedule changes are designed to help kids in sports and in advanced classes get more of their work done in school.

  • 156. liza  |  January 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    @151 It is true that many instances of incredible abuse by union officials and other well connected people have come to be in the news lately. As a union member, I find it just as disgusting as you do. However, what about holding our elected officials who enacted legislation to allow for these abuses responsible? Is it too much to ask that those in federal, state, and local government have some integrity? It’s very sad that the fingerpointing in the mess of pension funds is only unions, and not the politicians who neglected to follow the law and make the necessary contributions to keep these funds solvent by allowing pension contribution “holidays”. I don’t see anyone in federal, state, or local government giving up any of their agreed upon salaries and benefits. In fact, right here in our own very hometown, the city council voted themselves a nice little raise, which I’m sure is “pensionable”. You might want to check out how healthy that pension fund is – no “holidays” there! Maybe Emmanuel can give up his salary (he already made his millions) to fund a few more art, PE, music, etc. “for the children”.

  • 157. HSObsessed  |  January 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    @145, no, I didn’t know that about kids choosing how many classes to take, so thank you.

    I did NOT include a 0 hour, when I saw it, since I assumed that was elective, only 1 through whatever was listed. I may go over those again and make a grid so we can obsess, comment, and lead to no productive end. : )

  • 158. anon  |  January 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    thanks for the info @Joel did your school submit its plan already, and did they try for block scheduling? Or was it something your school as a majority did not want? You mentioned in a previous post this was your last year at CPS?? If so that is ashame I enjoy hearing from others from other parts of the city as well.Sometimes we only see what we are immersed in ourselves.

  • 159. Angie  |  January 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    154. liza: “@151 It is true that many instances of incredible abuse by union officials and other well connected people have come to be in the news lately. As a union member, I find it just as disgusting as you do. However, what about holding our elected officials who enacted legislation to allow for these abuses responsible?”

    Weren’t most of these officials hand-picked and endorsed by the unions with the understanding that they will cater to them, or at the very least not interfere with the way unions operate?

    Why is the newly elected mayor being blamed for the mess that his predecessor created, especially when he is trying to fix it?

    Why should Emmanuel give up his salary, instead of, for example, making the CTA union give up their $29 million of fraudulent overtime pay? That alone would fund a lot of art and music classes for the children.

  • 160. CPS Teacher  |  January 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    A rumor from contract negotiations is that CPS is looking for HS teachers to teach an additional class per day. This would, in itself, add 45 minutes to the day, without needing to hire additional staff. In addition, they will increase class size. CPS could then actually cut staff. Perhaps this is why proposed new schedules haven’t been approved?

  • 161. Joel  |  January 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    @153: regarding sport and academics. I took a course load of 5 AP classes, played on my HS soccer team and traveling club, and continued my studies in violin at the concert level. It is difficult, but not impossible. I went to University of Wisconsin-Madison and was part of their Honor’s Program, which is for people with ACT of 31 and over. I’m not trying to be a braggadicio, just want people to know that it IS possible to balance.

    @156: my pleasure. Southwest side neighborhood high school’s are not usually sexy topics, so I try to add something to the conversation. No attempt for block, as was stated in the guidelines we couldn’t add time to classes, it had to be something new. We have an ILT which came up with the main framework and was then presented to teachers to give suggestions and feedback.

    Yes, it is my last year. I’m off to law school next year. I’ll try to add as much about Farragut and what we are doing with Full Day to the conversation so that people can have a complete image of the whole of the CPS (or for those few that care about neighborhood high schools).

  • 162. CPSDepressed  |  January 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I care about neighborhood high schools because I hope they indeed become better and become a viable option for college-bound students. I’m not yet ready to make the plunge myself, but the kids in Chicago desperately need better schools.

  • 163. liza  |  January 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    @157 Angie
    I wouldn’t go so far as to say these politicians were “hand picked” by unions. Were many of them endorsed by various unions? Absolutely – and the politicians were more than happy to play the game whether it was ethical or not. Just like Jonah Edelman and his group, ComEd, and every other lobbyist group that makes contributions, promises votes, etc. to state lawmakers who always seem to have their hands out. Unfortunately, lobbyists of all kinds wield quite a bit of power and everybody wants their piece of the pie. Union members are not the only ones who chose to put these people in office, I would guess some non-union members voted for them as well.

    As far as blaming Emmanuel for the current mess, I don’t. This mess has been in the making for years. I do find his heavy handed and dictatorial approach to things a trifle hard to take. I might like him a little better if he asked the council to rescind their 6% pay raise, or do away with the security detail for Burke, or make public Chicago Board of Education financials for the last few years . . . but that won’t happen. It’s part of the “I’ll scratch your back, and you scratch mine” routine. Same old, same old.

    CTA fraudulent overtime? Where was the mayor appointed head of the CTA? Why wasn’t he doing his job? I would expect a little more oversight from him and his staff to make sure things like this did not happen. It’s a pretty high paying job and political stepping stone. Maybe he should give up his pension!

    We could go back and forth on this issue forever, but what’s the point? Things are a mess in this state and city, but it is only fair that everyone who had a hand in creating the mess accept some of the blame, not just unions. So I guess we can agree to disagree.

  • 164. anonymouseteacher  |  January 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Joel, I wanted to say thanks to you for your service at Farragut. I used to teach at an elementary school in that area and while many of our kids were very nice, very good kids, some were very difficult and virtually all were years behind. The community there has some incredible challenges and I can’t count the number of times I heard kids tell me they witnessed a murder or came out of their home in the morning to find crime tape right outside their front door. So, thank you for your service to children who very desperately need waaaaaay more support than our city is willing to give them. Thank you for giving them what you can.

  • 165. anonymous  |  January 29, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Joel, not to be the grammar police but the word you ere looking for is braggart. Sounds as though you were in the TFA program. Good luck in law school.

  • 166. Joel  |  January 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

    @163: Noted. I think I was actually going for “braggadocio”, which I believe is synonymous with braggart. -1000 for me. I’ll probably have to write myself a remediation plan, make 38 phone calls home to myself, beg myself to stay after for tutoring, and then answer to my administration why I am doing so poorly.
    No TFA for me, I was an English major at UW, and then did my certification at National Louis. We have had plenty of TFA at Farragut, mainly in the science department. They’ve all left, many right after their 2-year stint. Many great teachers, sad they couldn’t have stuck around longer to continue their good work. I’m happy I made it as long as I did, but it’s time to move on.
    I’m going to teach and sub after my second year of law school wherever I choose to go, and I also have the opportunity to teach community college with my master’s in literature. I don’t think teaching is something that most poeple want to leave, but that various schools/systems start to push out.

  • 167. cpsmama  |  January 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    @164- FYI: braggadoccio is boastful behavior, braggart is the person w/ the braggadocio. But your point was clear & you were neither a braggart nor exhibiting braggadocio in your post.

    @155 HS Obsessed, some info for your future chart:

    WY no longer starts at 7:05. Students who take 6 classes attend from 8:00-2:35 or 8:55-3:30.Students who take 7 classes attend form 8:00-3:30.

    Lane’s general day goes froms 8:00-2:55. Clubs meet during 0 period and very few students have 9th period classes Can a current lane parent elaborate? Lane studentss are not required to be in school until 8:00 when division starts. 7:40 is when kids are let into the building but attendance it not taken until 8:00 in division and they are not considered tardy until after 8:00. Not sure how they can claim school starts at 7:40 but more power to them. And, if it counts for the longer school day next year, other school should do it.

  • 168. Chris  |  January 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    “Northside College Prep has a well written petition also against the longer day”

    Per the peitition, they have a 7:19 day 4 days a week, and a special 5th day (do they split 3-1, or 4-0 during the 15 out 36 weeks there are less than 5 days??). As they say, 11 extra minutes is de minimus change, so they are merely trying to protect their colloquium day. Whatever else is going on with the “full day”, Northside is going to get to keep their colloquium–they might just have to fudge how it’s handled.

    Separate question:

    When everyone who says “CPS doesn’t have money for a longer day”–does that mean “not enough money for raises “due” existing teachers for more time”? Or is it a veiled strike threat? Or is it “not enough money to pay for the additional classes that will most make the longer day worthwhile”?

  • 169. foureyes  |  January 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    trying to comment…post was erased?

  • 170. anonymouseteacher  |  January 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Chris, there is not enough money to fund 45 minute duty free lunches for teachers (because now we need recess supervision and lunches will be moved to the middle of the day) and there is not money for adding prep periods (currently there are 4, 40 minute preps per week but we are going to 5, 60 minute preps). In my school it works out to hiring an additional 1.5 staff members just for preps and an additional 2 aides for recess duty. That’s easily $250K for one school. I estimate it will cost something like $150,000,000 system wide, on the conservative side. Plus, the “no money for the longer day” also means no additional funding for extra curriculum or supplies (more science, for example, means they have to purchase more science curriculum and for my school alone, one 6 week science unit complete with materials for one grade level cost $10K). On top of all this, which is no small amount of money, there is also no money for any raises at all.
    There is talk of raising class sizes and there is also no guarantee (straight from the office of early childhood) that kindergarten will or will not be full day next year. (essentially, they are not committing to full day kinder, but are not saying at this time they will make everyone half day) Cutting services in both those areas would help pay for the costs involved, but any gains made by the longer day would be lost due to increased class sizes and half day kindergarten.

  • 171. Angie  |  January 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    @168. anonymouseteacher: Is there a reason why each teacher is not able to supervise recess once or twice per month instead of having a prep period? Same question about supervising lunch?

  • 172. Bookworm  |  January 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Teachers can’t supervise the lunches per their contract. Parent volunteers shouldn’t have to shoulder this increase in need for time at school either to oversee lunch and recess. If this change is as key at the mayor says he should be funding it.
    I think that offering money to the schools with the most innovative plans is also sad. Which schools have the luxury of time and creative thinking to put them forward? Mostly the schools that will weather this with the input of parents and fundraising that creates such disparity already.
    Preschoolers don’t belong at school for 7.5 hours a day either.
    I’m not looking forward to the extra hours working to fundraise to make this work for my children’s school. At least we have the ability and administrative, parent and teacher power to make it work as well as it can. I feel bad for the kids –and parents and teachers without the extra resources to make the 7.5 day work.

  • 173. Angie  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    @170. Bookworm: “Teachers can’t supervise the lunches per their contract.”

    Oh, that’s what it is. Then maybe revising the contract should be the answer, rather then shifting more responsibilities to parents or hiring people to do things that can be done by existing staff.

    As for the preschoolers, if I’m not mistaken, those who go to tuition-based pre-K stay at school for 9 or 10 hours every day to accomodate working parents’ schedules. How in the world do they survive?

  • 174. TwinMom  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    “Specials” teachers supervise recess at our school (limited open campus, 6.5 hour day). Classroom teachers are eating their lunch during that time (and I, for one, am all in favor of allowing the classroom teachers a duty-free lunch break, just like I get at my job). That might have to change with the 7.5 hour day — not because of anything to do with the teacher contract, but simply because those specials teachers likely will be in the classroom for longer periods if the school opts to increase time spent on music, art,. etc.

    When I, for one, talk about there not being enough money to fund this, I’m talking about adding staff and materials for all the enrichment stuff that CPS touts in its propaganda about the “fuller” day. If a school doesn’t have a dedicated music or art or language teacher, a longer day isn’t going to give the kids music or art or language without some additional money. At more affluent schools, parents may be able to fundraise to pay for the enrichment activities, but if it’s a school where the majority of families are at or below poverty level? Without some miracle funding (and I’ve yet to see JCB explain the miracle), there will be more of the same.

  • 175. anonymous  |  January 31, 2012 at 3:03 am

    He can only squeeze the money out of the system by firing teachers and replacing them with classroom monitors who will supervise the kids in front of their computer learning sessions.

  • 176. LP Parent  |  January 31, 2012 at 9:07 am

    @171 Angie…I’m curious how your neighborhood school plans to implement the fuller day and whether or not you have had success in fund raising for your school. Do you find that teachers are open at your local school to volunteers? Do you feel that a longer day will cut into time that you spend with your children or time that they participate in activities?

  • 177. Bookworm  |  January 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    School in one of the CPS Montessori programs runs a typical school length day. Pay pre school may be more play based and is really day care. The CPS Montessori programs are not day care. The school day is not play based and includes the specials and other state required components of the school day. This is too long for a typical three or four year old already. The longer day will not benefit these kids academically, socially or emotionally. It will be too long. Free day care isn’t the point of these programs. Some of these children are not even offered a nap which is developmentally inappropriate and no boost to long term academic achievement.
    I am interested in why you or other posters here believe teachers or parents for that matter should be asked to work for this mandate when the city is blatantly unwilling to make it work with the correct funding. One full time art teacher is certainly not going to be able to cover the change in hours to enrich a whole school of kids during the 7.5 hour day. Where will the supply costs for these art classes come from?
    Parent volunteers at our school are already working overtime to generate the extra funding to cover the unknown costs of this mandate for every kid in our very mixed economically city school. A very few CPS schools have this kind of parent power.
    Our mayor could be leveraging the incredible wealth of cultural, academic and arts organizations legion in this city to offer the deep intellectually stimulating enrichment proven to raise test sores in every single Chicago city school as a given for this extended day. This is simply not what they have told us is at all part of this plan.
    He lacks honesty and imagination on this issue.
    As with LP I’m curious about how much time you might have had to spend in your child’s school building it’s success or hours a day laying the groundwork for extra funding. There is far more to it then showing up at a party and writing a check.

  • 178. Angie  |  January 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    @174. LP Parent: The full day is still under discussion, but we already have recess, so there won’t be too much time added. The fundraising happens constantly, just small things here and there, plus a few big events during the school year. And teachers love parent volunteers.

    My kids are small, and usually do their scheduled activities, museum trips, etc. on weekends. After school, they play outside, weather permitting, then do homework and play some more at home. I don’t think the longer school day will have any negative effect on our family life.

  • 179. Bookworm  |  January 31, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Forgive me but I think it’s important to consider who plans the” little things here and there” or the ” few big events during the school year that fund successful CPS schools?” Parents. They need to spend time– hours weekly they could be devoting solely to their own children’s academic achievement making these things happen.
    How does the extra time spent volunteering in a school impact parent’s schedules and the achievement of their own kids? What happens to families who benefit greatly from the extra time of other families when parent volunteers are no longer able to meet the needs of a school?
    Where would the best CPS schools be without the years and sometimes decades that parents have given to help teachers build these schools not only for their own children but for new families arriving at these lucky schools.
    I think parent volunteers are not quaint but essential to the success of CPS where it is successful. The longer day will have an impact on the parents able to do this work and the teachers tasked with making the mandate function. Ultimately this will affect all of our kids somehow.

  • 180. Angie  |  January 31, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    @175. Bookworm: First of all, Montessori is a choice, as are gifted and classical programs with their higher work load that may be too much for a typical child. If a child cannot handle it, than maybe he/she does not belong there.

    As far as I know, CPS tuition-based preschools are not a simple daycare, and have both learning and play time. They are the ones I’m talking about. Some parents here have children in these preschools, so they may be able to better explain how the time is spent.

    I also don’t know who is responsible for not offering naps to little ones. Maybe this should be discussed with the principal at a particular school? My preschooler is in CPS deaf program, and he has study time, play time, nap and recess. I don’t think that longer school day is going to harm him in any way.

    I also don’t believe that parents should be asked for anything more than they already provide. As for the teachers, yeah, I think they could work a few more hours per month to balance those extra holidays and 15 weeks of vacation.

  • 181. Chris  |  January 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    “they are not committing to full day kinder”

    Wait–isn’t one of the HUGE complaints about the 7.5 hour day that kindergarteners aren’t ready to deal with 7.5 hour days? Can NOT take both sides of that argument.

  • 182. Chris  |  January 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    “Where would the best CPS schools be without the years and sometimes decades that parents have given to help teachers build these schools not only for their own children but for new families arriving at these lucky schools”

    Where would New Trier schools, or Parker, or whatever be without parents who do similar things? There is fundraising for schools *everywhere*.

  • 183. Chris  |  January 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    “1.5 staff members just for preps and an additional 2 aides for recess duty. That’s easily $250K for one school.”

    $71,000 for a recess aide? Sign me up! Then I’d have time to volunteer as a classroom assistant, too.

  • 184. cpsobsessed  |  January 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I recall a few years ago the preK aides in my son’s tbpk class were making around $12/hour. Not sure if there were benefits or if they got paid over break.
    Assuming no benefits and 9 months of pay, that’s probably around 18-20k per aide per year?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 185. cpsobsessed  |  January 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    What is the fundraising at new trier and parker covering vs that in cps?
    I think the difference is vast.
    I was going to say I’d love to know what they spend their fundraising dollars on, but on second thought, I really don’t want to know.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 186. foureyes  |  January 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I seriously doubt a recess aide makes 71K

  • 187. Angie  |  January 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    From CPS employment site here:

    “Title Special Education Classroom Assistant
    Location Bethune School of Excellence
    3030 W. Arthington Street
    Chicago, Illinois 60621
    Position Number Available
    Position Value 1.0
    Position Grade G04
    Position Period 38.60 Weeks
    Salary The minimum annual salary is: $28,589. – Maximum $ TBD
    Position Summary Under the general direction of the school principal, and under the immediate supervision
    of a teacher holding a valid state certificate directly engaged in teaching subject matter or
    conducting activities, assists in the instruction of pupils; and performs related duties as
    ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS: Assists in the supervision of students during lunchroom and
    playground activities, assists students in understanding and completing classroom
    assignments, assists teachers in preparing bulletin boards and displaying students work
    in classrooms, operates photocopying and duplicating machines to reproduce
    educational materials, assists in maintaining the orderly arrangement of classrooms,
    greets and directs visitors to appropriate areas of the school, consults with teachers
    regarding concerns of individual students, operates audio-visual equipment such as
    video cassette recorders, movie projectors, film strip projectors, tape recorders, and
    phonographs; provides tutoring services to students under the supervision of the
    classroom teacher; assists in collecting and grading students’ homework assignments
    and examination materials under the supervision of the classroom teacher; assists in
    supervising the loading and unloading of students on school busses; assists in the
    receipt, processing, and issuance of new books under the supervision of the classroom
    teacher; may assist elementary school teachers with wraps and toilet recesses as

  • 188. Chris  |  January 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    “I seriously doubt a recess aide makes 71K”

    How are 1.5 FTEs and 2 recess aides costing “easily” $250,000?

  • 189. Chris  |  January 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    “What is the fundraising at new trier and parker covering vs that in cps?
    I think the difference is vast.”

    Of course it is, but that (some) parents need to take the time to plan events and spend added money on donations is not unique to CPS–without those efforts, the other schools would still be “better” than CPS with them, but they would definitely not be the same that they are now.

  • 190. foureyes  |  January 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    @Chris…that is a questions for #168…I would like to know more about those figure as well….
    but I would say that 250K has to account for programming issues/books/materials and the like besides just the salary.

    I don’t make anywhere 71K…and I have 10 years of experience and a Masters degree.

  • 191. Chris  |  January 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    foureyes: ” I would say that 250K has to account for programming issues/books/materials and the like besides just the salary”

    That makes sense, but that’s not what was posted:

    ” In my school it works out to hiring an additional 1.5 staff members just for preps and an additional 2 aides for recess duty. That’s easily $250K for one school.”

    Two $30k aides–who will have additional duties beyond recess/lunchroom supervision–and 1.5 FTEs doesn’t come close to “easily” $250k.

    Or maybe you should apply for one of the openings at 168’s school! Sounds like a big pay raise!

  • 192. foureyes  |  January 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    This point…squeezing money by firing teachers….is what worries my colleagues and me ….
    because less teachers (and the same amount of kids)…as you (all) know…it leads to bigger class sizes. I have had classes with 36 kids (which is the TOP end)…and I spend far more time on discipline than I would like.

    What is maddening is that much of the regulations affecting ONLY CPS are made by the State govt. (one issue regards the possibility to increase class size (if I remember)…as well as collective bargaining/and the like) How is it that persons from Peoria/Carbondale would really care about what is happening here? Is it right that they make those decisions? Why not make the decisions for Evanston, Oak Park, and Schaumburg too? I know Cook county is a huge finance drain for the State… does seem odd that issues that are really local are state-made (and don’t affect other communities in the state …ONLY Chicago). That seems a bit ironic and unfair.

    I am a little troubled by the point about teachers’ 15 weeks vacation/holidays…..
    I work 50-80 hours a week during the school year. I know not all teachers do so. I work on those one day holidays too (the stuff you don’t see…like grading/lesson planning). During Winter break…I came into the school twice to work on my classroom and to work on lesson plans. I have to take sick days to grade. I know other teachers who must do this also. During ‘vacation’…is when I do professional course work/development…which is required by the ISBE for me to maintain my certificate. I pay for any and all of the couses out of my own pocket (in the suburbs…the teachers will often receive a reimbursement for these courses).
    I also work on curriculum and new lesson plans during the summer. I know many teachers who do this as well. I understand that not all teachers might work as much as I do…but I do believe that a large amount of teachers work a tremendous amount of time during the school year…and on holidays/vacations.

  • 193. Chris  |  January 31, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    “I know Cook county is a huge finance drain for the State”

    You may “know” that, but it ain’t exactly true, under most definitions of “true”. Downstate (ie, not Cook, or the metro collar counties) have the great divide between payments to the state and payments from the state. On this count, if anyone has basis to complain, its DuPage and Lake counties.

    See, eg,

  • 194. foureyes  |  January 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Thank you, Chris
    I am always willing to learn more. (and I appreciate you taking the time to clue me in)

  • 195. anonymouseteacher  |  January 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Re: teacher aides and pay. I stated 250K for 1.5 teaching positions and two aides total. Here is how I came up with the number.
    1 teacher = 100K when you figure in salary and benefits (average 60K salary +40K benefits
    .5 teacher is 50K when you figure in salary and benefits (yes, half time teachers are eligible for family healthcare at a slightly larger premium)
    each aide=30K per year in salary + 40K in benefits. 70K x 2= 140K per year.
    That is roughly about 290K. The benefits end up costing a lot. When I say benefits, I include health, dental, disability, pension, etc.

    Regarding half day K. I am not arguing that we NOT have half day K. My point is that full day is not guaranteed. And that kids cannot learn as much in 3/3.5 hour K or whatever it is as opposed to a 7.5 hour day. Merely stating facts. I personally think we should have K for 4-5 hour sessions (and then K teachers can be used to provide RTI at the beginning or end of the day, parents would just have more than one drop off if they had a kid in K and another grade). Yes, I believe 7.5 hours is too long for K and I base that on years of experience teaching K. But, at the same time, I can tell you for sure, kids in half day K don’t learn as much as kids do in the current 5 hours and 45 minutes. To restate, I think 7.5 hours is too much for K, and 2.5 hours (what CPS half day K kids currently have) is too little.

  • 196. Bookworm  |  January 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    @ 178 Cps Montessori programs are about independent learning– not accelerated, selective enrollment programs.They welcome children from every part of the city and every kind of learner including those with very complicated special needs.
    Younger children will be affected by the extended day and therefore parents with children in these successful experimental programs are rightly questioning the wisdom of a one size fits all day. A too long day has a negative impact on our kids in the long run and we have every right to ask good questions about why the longer day is being pushed this way. We have not been given any answers by CPS about our concerns.
    I’m glad that some parents with younger children have a program that fits their kids needs right now.
    Teachers at our school work full tilt all day and then some more. They earn every perceived perk that comes their way. I imagine that teachers in your child’s program do the same or you wouldn’t be so happy with it. I don’t want my kid’s teachers over burdened with an unfunded mandate any more than I relish the opportunity to over volunteer to cover the extra costs this extended day is going to generate. It doesn’t take an every day math program to figure out that the longer day isn’t going to be free. It’s who will be bearing the real cost that I worry about.

  • 197. northie  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Maybe everyone here has hit on exactly how the mayor plans on paying for everything – extend the day to 7.5. At the end of this year, or during the summer, sneak in the fact that full day K is no longer offered and that the K teachers should cover the other hours. Then, when most of the parents scream about half day K, CPS tells them that if they want full day K they must fundraise for it – which they have done for the past two years. In the past they suddenly, miraculously find the money for full day K. Maybe next year it just won’t show up because of the longer day. Principals and parents will be on their own to figure out how to make it all work. In current meetings at our school about the “full day” our principal keeps reminding us that full day K is never guaranteed.

  • 198. Anonymous  |  February 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    North Side College Prep petition has more than 2,ooo signatures.

  • 199. anon33  |  February 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    198 — good for them

  • 200. Chris  |  February 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm


    On re-read the “know” thing seems snarkier than intended. It was supposed to evoke the gap between what we all believe to be true and actual facts. Thanks for taking it not the wrong way.

  • 201. anonymous  |  February 4, 2012 at 3:03 am


    Please sign the petition for a 6.5 hour school day

    We are against a 7.5 hour school day for Chicago Public Schools–it is extreme and unnecessary. We advocate a 6.5 hour day. At least 13 CPS elementary schools already have a 6.5 hour day … with recess, physical education, art and music.

    –They outperform the CPS average in testing.
    –They also outperform Chicago charter schools with a 7.5 hour or longer day.
    –No state has an average school day as long as 7.5 hours.
    –There is little scientific evidence that an extended school day leads to better test scores.

    An after-school program helps parents who have childcare needs.

    CPS shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken and instead take a closer look at what IS working.

    Thank you.

  • 202. Esmom  |  February 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I’ve received this petition from a few people…Whitney Young parents/friends asking that the school be exempt from the longer day:

  • 203. Angie  |  February 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    @198. Anonymous and 202. Esmom:

    Do you realize that you are talking about the top 1% of students here, who had to prove that they are great at studying and testing to get into those schools? Maybe they don’t really need a longer school day to succeed, but what does that have to do with the rest of the CPS kids?

  • 204. mom2  |  February 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    For high school, isn’t it just an extra 36 minutes? It seems like the SEHS’s would easily find a way to make good use of that short amount of time and it wouldn’t be much of a hardship on people or sports or other after school activities since it is only 36 minutes. I am certainly not an advocate for the usual CPS one-size-fits-all approach (like breakfast in the classroom – ugh), but this one doesn’t seem like people should be so worked up.

    Does WYHS have that same colloquium day that they offer at NSCP? I somewhat understand the concern about possibly having to eliminate that when it really does seem to work well for them. I just think CPS has no ability to be flexible or offer different things depending on the school population needs.

  • 205. anonymouseteacher  |  February 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    @203, maybe only 10-20% of the system doesn’t need the longer school day. Maybe. And if that is true, then let those schools that are doing great keep doing things like they’ve always done. And let the other 80% of schools have the longer day. My kids don’t need the longer day, nor do my students. And parents at the school I teach in are vehemently opposed. Why can’t each school decide for themselves?

  • 206. Chris  |  February 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    “For high school, isn’t it just an extra 36 minutes? ”

    FOr Northside–per their petition–it’s less than 36 minutes, except one day a week. They just want an exemption for that one day.

  • 207. Gwen  |  February 9, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I love Ben Joravsky. Love this article on Mayor Rahm and CPS.

  • 208. Angie  |  February 9, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    @205. anonymouseteacher: ” Why can’t each school decide for themselves?”

    Because when schools were allowed to decide for themselves, most of them voted to deprive the kids of recess and shorten their lunch so that the teachers can go home earlier. Why should they be trusted to do what is best for the children in this case?

  • 209. anonymouseteacher  |  February 10, 2012 at 7:26 am

    I never said teachers should be the ones voting. I meant parents. And since you appear to be unaware of the history of CPS/CTU negotiations, it was every bit as much the decision of the BOE to shorten the school day and have lunch at the end of the day because they didn’t want to pay for the supervision that would have been needed to provide a lunch recess combo.
    If parents at both my kids’ school voted and parents at my workplace voted, we’d not have a 7.5 hour day. Guaranteed. Parents at my workplace are talking about pulling out en masse. They are pissed.

  • 210. Jen  |  February 10, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Aren’t Chicago parents generally pissed about anything CPS does? If people were genuinely going to pull their kids from school over a 7.5 hour day (and go where?) why didn’t they do it over any of the other ridiculous policies they’ve come out with recently?

  • 211. Mia  |  February 10, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I personally have not been convinced that the longer school day is going to be the panacea they are making it out to be. Adding time for longer lunch and mandating recess, that I’ve seen lots of studies that support it’s importance to learning. Incidentally, does anyone know how long is the elementary school day is at Chicago Lab School?

  • 212. HS Mom  |  February 10, 2012 at 9:49 am

    @209 – maybe you could mention which school and what grades will have openings. Lots of people looking to get in to a good school.

  • 213. Chris  |  February 10, 2012 at 10:38 am

    “Incidentally, does anyone know how long is the elementary school day is at Chicago Lab School?”

    I believe it is 6:45 four days a week and 5:45 on Tuesdays.

    Note: they don’t take 15 minutes out of the school day for breakfast–to have the same amount of *school* time in CPS requires a 7 hour day.

  • 214. RL Julia  |  February 10, 2012 at 10:51 am

    @208 – “Because when schools were allowed to decide for themselves, most of them voted to deprive the kids of recess and shorten their lunch so that the teachers can go home earlier. Why should they be trusted to do what is best for the children in this case?”

    This is a low shot. I don’t think this is what the majority of teachers would vote. In my experience, teachers usually are going above and beyond – despite any number of contridictory memos from the central office, new matrices being thrown on them etc…

  • 215. Mia  |  February 10, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Chris- Neither of my kids schools has lost any time for breakfast, i’m not sure if that’s the norm or not.

    RL Julia- I agree that it’s a low shot. In my daughter’s school, many of the teachers have expressed for years that they were in favor of extending the day to allow for recess (no recess in her school at all, and just 20 minutes for lunch!), and in this case it was the formerly mentioned lackluster principal who quashed efforts, but not the teachers! I can’t stand the current climate of teacher vilification that this administration/school board/central office is pushing – it really sickens me.

  • 216. Angie  |  February 10, 2012 at 11:53 am

    @214. RL Julia and 215. Mia:

    Frankly, I don’t care who is personally responsible for removing the recess. My point is that it happened because the individual schools were allowed to decide these kind of things for themselves.

  • 217. Joel  |  February 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    @216: Normally I let your comments roll off, because who doesn’t like a little stirring of the pot. That being said, your comment @208 was pretty lame. Since you seem to think most teachers are lazy, good-for-nothing, selfish louts, I would assume that you spend your time home-schooling your children? If not, I would like to invite you to come teach in my classroom for a week (you get to attend all meetings, do all paperwork, attend IEP meetings, meet with students before and after school, explain to the principal why your attendance is low and what are YOU doing about it, develop lesson plans, grade papers, make sure everything is properly posted in class, break up a few fights, have a guy or girl tell you to “f*#k off,” make sure everything you do is aligned to CRS standards). I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.
    And by the way, I was the one who suggested I’d like school to be in session for 46 weeks, and I’d like a school day where I can teach my English classes at least 90 minutes. But I’m one of those lazy, selfish teachers…

  • 218. another cps mom  |  February 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    @216 Angie: “Frankly, I don’t care who is personally responsible for removing the recess. My point is that it happened because the individual schools were allowed to decide these kind of things for themselves.”

    There is a lot of support among parents here, and the one Lane student who posted, for students learning to think critically. Context is important to critical thinking.

  • 219. Chris  |  February 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    “Chris- Neither of my kids schools has lost any time for breakfast, i’m not sure if that’s the norm or not.”

    So, those two schools added 15 minutes to the school day? How are the kids supervised, if not?

  • 220. Chris  |  February 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Angie: “Frankly, I don’t care who is personally responsible for removing the recess. My point is that it happened because the individual schools were allowed to decide these kind of things for themselves.”

    That’s not quite right; it’s not an opt-out, its an opt-in. The contract provides that there is no recess, and the schools can opt-in to having recess. Say it’s a distinction w/o a difference, but I’ll say you’re wrong, and pile on the evidence (regarding how opt-out v opt in is a real diff), if necessary.

  • 221. Angie  |  February 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    @220. Chris: So the lack of recess is in teachers’ contract, negotiated by the teacher’ union on their behalf, yet the teachers who benefit from it have no say in that decision whatsoever? Did I get this right?

    @ 217. Joel: I have met great teachers and bad teachers in my time. I would like to see the great teachers rewarded, and the lousy ones kicked out of the classroom, regardless of their tenure or seniority. I think that teachers who worked with children in your high school classroom from the time they were 5 years old bear at least some responsibility for the way they behave and talk to you now. Also, I think that if having the shortest school day and school year was sufficient to give the Chicago children a good education we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.

    However, the teachers and/or the union were perfectly fine with the way things were until the big bad Rahm showed up and decided to change the system. And now they are organizing the petitions, threatening dire consequences and plotting the ways to make him a one-term mayor. They can talk all they want about doing this for the benefit of the children, but I’m not buying any of it.

  • 222. Mia  |  February 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    @Angie- It appears that you have accepted as fact the premise put forward by Rahm and the School Board (since they are appointed by him one assumes they will be lock-step together) that (1) Chicago actually has “the shortest school day and school year” and, perhaps more importantly, that (2) increasing the amount of time they spend in school is actually going to “give them a good education”. I will post links later to some very interesting articles about the longer school day (many of the Illinois suburban schools have no more than 5 minutes more in instruction per day yet have much better test scores), and about the relative success rate in other urban areas (a Harvard study on Boston’s extended school day program) – I’ll give you a hint – it didn’t do anything for their performance. And by the way – I’ve signed a number of petitons against the proposed plans, not one has been organized by the teacher’s union (though I probably would if presented by one). On the other hand, the Central Office/School Board/Rahm (all one entity to me) did apparently pay protesters to show up in support of school closings . . . . .

  • 223. Mia  |  February 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    @Chris – if you read the above, please disregard all of the grammatical, punctutation mistakes etc. (presented by one – shudder – i meant presented with one) – i was typing quickly ;).

  • 224. RL Julia  |  February 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I think most teachers are probably too focused on the task of doing a good job teaching the kids in front of them and getting through the day than to really be thinking about organizing for whatever. THat’s the union rep is supposed to do.

  • 225. Mia  |  February 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    @ Angie – I’m curious are you also a fan of Charter Schools? Even though once the data on them was finally released we learned tht nearly all of them performed equal to or WORSE than the regular CPS schools (only one Charter System – the Noble charter – performed better, and only slightly so.)? But of course, they serve what i think is the the ulimate purpose for our mayor – not improving education (the test scores tell us they are not doing that) but rather busting the teachers union . . . I can only hope he’s a one-term mayor.

  • 226. Chris  |  February 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    “negotiated by the teacher’union on their behalf”

    There’s a reason that many teachers are at least quietly anti-union leadership (if not actually anti-union).

    Also, that change was made when many/most of the current teachers were themsleves elem/hs students.

    Basically, I think you’re being a bit unfair on thie point, even tho I generally agree with many of your points/issues.

  • 227. Chris  |  February 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    “please disregard all of the grammatical, punctutation mistakes ”

    The arrogant thing just seemed so odd, and the principal thing had been repeated so many times, plus I had the mnemonic tie-in. I try to stick to noting funny typos.

    ” I can only hope he’s a one-term mayor”

    Who, or what, would be your dream mayor?–keep in mind the reality of the city’s three-sided politics and the poor state of the overal budget.

  • 228. Mia  |  February 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    W/o forgoing my right to tell you in more detail my dream mayor’s characteristics – right off the top of my head it would be include someone who would use TIF funds for the schools – instead of handing them out to the CME to renovate their bathrooms – and yes, I know, they declined the offer (after having some protesters deliver a “golden toilet” to them) but that wasn’t Rahm’s doing – and of coure they got the sweetheart tax break from the state legislator before declining the TIF funds.

  • 229. HS Mom  |  February 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Angie, I was wondering what you think about Obama’s birth control plan? 🙂

  • 230. Chris  |  February 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    “someone who would use TIF funds for the schools ”

    Sure, but is there anyone *likely to win* who would do that? Not promise to do it to get votes, but actually do it once they got the checkbook?

  • 231. Mia  |  February 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Ah – but you asked for my dream mayor – and actually there are a lot of public officials who – perhaps because the public is getting more educated on TIF funds and how they are being used – who have been pushing for TIF reform and “sunshine” on the whole process. I don’t know if or when such a person would be mayor – but I do know that if people become informed and involved in these issues that at least there is a chance for electing that kind of person. But right now, especially in education, there are so many generalizations about teachers, unions, time in school, etc. that are being thrown around- and I like to read information on both sides and try to educate myself as much as possible before forming my opinion on the issue.

  • 232. Chris  |  February 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Mia: Yeah, I moved the goalposts.

    But I was trying (maybe not very hard) to make a similar point to my point in one of these threads about the “why doesn’t CPS do *something* to make it all better?” premise–that all of the kvetching should (I’d say *needs*) to recognize the two step of (1) desired policy with is actually possible (ie, no $$ from the sky; no cold fusion; no time travel), and (2) implementation of said policy through the actual political reality, using an actual set of persons who have some possibility of coming to power (so no touchy-feelie, hippy-dippy, wannbe philosopher-kings).

    Spending the TIF $$ on education at least satisfies #1. I have serious doubts about #2.

  • 233. Angie  |  February 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    @225. Mia: First of all, I have no use for the public service unions which use and abuse their negotiating power to force the taxpayers to fund their inflated salaries, pensions and other benefits. Seriously, 132K per year to drive a CTA bus? Give me a break! The unions are way overdue for some busting, and good for Rahm for having the guts to finally do it.

    As for charters, I think having a choice of schools available to the kids is a very good thing. I haven’t looked at that research, but test scores are only part of the picture. There’s also the matter of the safety of students attending these schools, the ability of the administration to control their behavior and create the environment that supports learning, getting rid of the known troublemakers, etc. If charters can do that successfully, then they just might be a better option than some of the worst-performing neighborhood schools.

    @229. HS Mom: Let’s not go there 🙂

  • 234. Neighborhood mom  |  February 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Our neighborhood school loses no time for breakfast. It is picked up by children in front of classrooms as they file in. The teacher then begins class, on time, while children eat.

    Angie is right. The teachers by contract, took away from the kids recess and decent amount of time to each.

  • 235. anonymous  |  February 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Mia — what a breath of fresh air you are.

  • 236. wy mom  |  February 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    @233~Angie~charters aren’t a good choice if you want your kids to get a good education. CPS should fund our neighborhood schools. Charter schools drain funds for neighborhood schools. It’s all about privatization and money not going to our schools:

  • 237. wy mom  |  February 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Angie, I know you said you didn’t research the charter schools, I have. please read the above link! Get informed. Charter schools will be closing too!

  • 238. Angie  |  February 10, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    @236. wy mom: OK, I read your link. So the charters drain money that could have gone to the failing neighborhood schools to do what? How would throwing more money at the existing administration and staff that allowed the school to fail in the first place solve anything?

  • 239. anonymouseteacher  |  February 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I still propose that parents get to vote on how long their particular child’s school day is. I’d vote (as a parent at my kid’s school) 6.5 hours.
    This 7.5 hour day appears to be a done deal-no matter how many times they say it is not, and it appears as if Rahm believes my children, at the high end of the achievement spectrum have the same needs as those children at the lowest end of the achievement spectrum. It’s sad really–the hours and hours I spend as a teacher differentiating for my students. Differentiated reading instruction, small groups, math games at different levels, parent volunteers trained to work with kids at their point of need, even differentiated homework–and yet, our mayor appears to believe that students do not need differentiation in terms of length of day. He appears to believe that what is best for a 16 year old is what is best for a 5 year old. We don’t give a 5 year old the same dose of medicine a 16 year old would get. Doctors do not tell all their patients to take medication for the same length of time, regardless of the extent of their illness. So why does our mayor think all students, regardless of their educational achievement levels need the same thing?

  • 240. RL Julia  |  February 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I don’t think Rahm thinks that all students need the same thing, I think that there are so many financial, union and other concerns that the end product (the actual child’s actual educational experience) comes dead last. I’ve seen this happen again and again when dollars come from one place to serve a third party – particularly a vulnerable third party, everyone takes a cut until that third party is getting not what the need but what is left over.

  • 241. Gwen  |  February 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Angie, Do you know how Charter schools get rid of the “problem” students? They get to send them back to the low performing neighborhood school, an option the PUBLIC schools don’t have. You really have a beef with unions, but you are ill informed.

  • 242. anonymous  |  February 11, 2012 at 9:22 am

    The long day is about opening up the schools to online learning companies. Kids will drill themselves at computers in reading and math. CPS will pay for it by firing lots of teachers. That’s why Emanuel wants to impose it upon all schools, regardless of student performance — so he can fire as many teachers as possible.

  • 243. cpsobsessed  |  February 11, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Why would we need a longer day to bring in online learning and fire teachers? Couldn’t it just happen now?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 244. anonymouseteacher  |  February 11, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I don’t know if I believe the whole line about online learning and firing teachers. For one, I only have one computer in my classroom and it doesn’t work all the time. Maybe in high schools?
    I do think that it is possible instead of a lot of firing, that when the larger-than-normal amount of retirements happen this spring, some of those teachers just won’t be replaced. Which will mean larger class sizes.

  • 245. local  |  February 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Charter & birth control in one comment: My little buddy who graduated from CSI (?) Longwood HS on 95th say almost all her girlferinds from there are pregnant or already new mothers less than a year& 1/2 after graduatuon. Good planning? I guess it depends.

  • 246. local  |  February 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Needless to say, xcuse phone keyboard typos

  • 247. Glass half full  |  February 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    @245 – so….they are graduating, eh? Isn’t that the 1st goal of high school?

  • 248. anonymous  |  February 13, 2012 at 7:33 am

    The CPS proposed 7.5 hour-day and 180-day school year are modeled after a charter school called Rocketship. We believe that CPS sees this long day / year push as a “budget fix” first and foremost, because under this model low-level classroom monitors replace teachers. That is why the mandate is unfunded.


    Rocketship operates a “hybrid” school model, including an extended school day with as many classroom instructional minutes as district schools and an additional two hour practice period each day called Learning Lab, in which students work on computer curriculum, read books independently, and participate in enrichment activities.

    In addition to the academic benefits of additional practice time for students, Learning Lab allows Rocketship to hire one fewer teacher per grade level than a typical elementary school (because students in Learning Lab are supervised by non-certificated staff).

    This savings amounts to $500,000 per year for a school at full size.

    This savings allows Rocketship to spend significant extra resources on professional development, salaries, full-time teacher mentors at each school site, and other school-level areas to ensure we meet our academic mission.

    It also makes Rocketship the first charter school network which is completely scalable.

    All of the start-up costs associated with new schools, including building facilities, are covered by fees from existing schools.

    Rocketship has pegged a 30% annual growth rate in schools, which means that within a few years, we can serve every high-need elementary student in the cities we locate. This is a far different approach than the traditional “tipping point” theory whereby charters tried to influence district policy with a few lighthouse schools.

  • 249. cpsemployee  |  February 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

    We were given guidelines to follow when completing our Longer School Day Plan (due Feb, 24th) and one that was repeatedly stressed was that a certified teacher MUST be with the students at all times. This means you can’t do something like have a class in the computer lab being supervised by non-certified staff.

  • 250. anonymouseteacher  |  February 13, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I personally don’t think we are going to have large groups of students sitting in front of computers for long periods of time. Where would they even put all those computers? In my room, the only way they could do that would be to get rid of the classroom library, the writing center, and the block center. That would be beyond stupid.
    Still, even though I don’t think that will happen, there is a scenario where non-certified staff, or volunteers or whoever could be allowed to supervise groups of kids. All you need is ONE certified staff member to be present. If, say for example, at recess, there are 200 kids on the playground and blacktop, there only needs to be ONE certified staff member present. The other 2-3 people could be anyone. Same in a computer lab. If you put two kids on each computer, so 66 kids on 33 computers, you can have one certified staff member supervising and one aide or volunteer or hired out worker to be the other adult there.
    As well, all of us who have ever worked in CPS understand, just because there are rules and laws, doesn’t mean CPS follows them. I witness federal guidelines, sped laws and other state board of education laws violated virtually every single day and I don’t believe I am the exception. Just because there must be certified staff with kids at all times doesn’t mean that will happen in reality.

  • 251. anonymous  |  February 13, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Could it mean that many current teachers will be replaced by TFA-ers? They have no experience or teaching degrees, other than the 5 weeks at National Louis.

  • 252. anonymous  |  February 13, 2012 at 10:44 am

    They could use tablets, much cheaper now.

  • 253. anonymouseteacher  |  February 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

    I doubt it. TFA people have to go through the same app process as everyone else and they have emergency certification, so they’d not be considered non-certified. I have heard numbers of up to 20-30% of current teachers retiring system wide and a larger percentage than normal looking to leave for suburbs or other careers. With the end of tenure, it is likely many teachers with poor ratings and without endorsements like sped, ESL, bilingual, math or science could be let go in the next year or two as that law regarding tenure kicks in.
    Still, there is a huge glut right now of teachers, who went through real teaching programs, looking for jobs. My principal has 2500+ resumes in boxes already and we don’t have any posted job openings.

  • 254. Chris  |  February 13, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Neighborhood Mom @234: “The teacher then begins class, on time, while children eat.”

    Yeah, and none of the kids are distracted at all!! Nothing to see here, move along!! Why not just roll lunch into calssroom time, too!

  • 255. King Ph.d.  |  February 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I think that the Mayor, the CPS Board (read Mayor’s people) and some Alderman mistakenly believe that the resistance to the 7.5 hour day is coming from the CTU. I know the women that are behind this effort on the Southside, and most of them could care less what the CTU wants. Their concern is that the 7.5 hour day is too long. In fact, nearly all of them believe that the current length of day is too short, and that the current CTU contractual language allowing the teachers to vote on the length of day is inappropriate.

    Most of the people I know that are involved in promoting a 6.5 hour day have elected to stay home with their children. Most of these people are working class, with spouses that work for the city, county or in the skilled trades. They looked at the money they might make working, less taxes and childcare and decided their family would be better off if they stayed home, cared for their children and got involved in their children’s school. They decided to forgo the extra money. It is my opinion that one of the reasons they could make this decision was because their spouses are some of the lucky few left that have a pension and healthcare. It is one of the few working class neighborhoods in the city of Chicago that still resembles the fictional “Fishtown” neighborhood as described in Charles Murray’s recent book, “Coming Apart”.

    As a result, a significant number of children have a parent that is home and active at school. Research show that this parent involvement improves school performance, and if you look at Mount Greenwood test scores, you can see that dedicated parents and teachers have resulted in good scores, even though this elementary is not located in a North Shore suburb.

    Unfortunately, there are many other residents of the city that do not have the benefits of a job with benefits and a pension, and the parents and children are suffering for want of it. These parents have different needs, including a need for childcare because many households are ran by single parents, or both parents have to work to survive, if they are lucky to have a job. These families clearly need a well thought out plan to provide them with extra support. Perhaps part of this should be a longer school day for these families, with extra academic support.

    Meanwhile, the working class way of life, such as the one in Mount Greenwood has been under assault for at least three decades in our country. What Mount Greenwood residents are asking for is the ability to raise their children in a way that they know is working for them, and has worked for many years.

    I believe the Mayor should be flexible with the longer day, and give them that chance. Perhaps his upbringing has not allowed him to understand how a successful community of working people needs to be structured versus a community of knowledge workers to be successful. His efforts to attract new knowledge based jobs is to be commended, and will help Chicago in the future.

    Being Mayor of the one of the largest municipalities in the country is a vastly more complex job than being a Legislator or Chief of Staff. A little flexibility here would be a magnanimous gesture to indicate he wants to be everybody’s mayor, and would go a long way to shed his pit bull image.

  • 256. Anonymous  |  February 15, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Nicely phrased. But if I had to pick a motto for the mayor it would be, “Power Never Concedes.”
    Wish it weren’t so.

  • 257. kate  |  February 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    king ph d- so parents w/o pensions need “longer days” for their kids AND working class parents with a SAHP and pensions need only 6.5 hours. Is that your premise? What do the kids need? What do our teachers and schools need inorder to provide instructional time for all subjects?
    This SAHP believes that the 7.5 hours is a negotiating stance. This mayor didn’t “concede his power” on this city’s budget and as a result he closed the budget gap successfully. As a test of your and Mayor E’s “power”; name a city budget cut or fee increase, other than the vehicle sticker fee, that impacted your family.

  • 258. Anonymous  |  February 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Kate, sure, he’s had a big job to handle, but some things weren’t absolutely necessary to cut considering the huge TIF surplus, like the mental health clinics and libraries. The speed cameras will come in, and property taxes are up, and vehicle sticker, as you said.

    There’s nothing wrong i saying some parents need childcare more than others, is there?

    Did you know that the CPS plan is this — of the 105 min extra for elementary schools, just 37 min of instruction will be added to the core courses: reading, math, science and social studies?

    What if some communities want their kids to do other activities, instead of staying at school?

    And, btw, CPS has said there will be no added funding for the long day / year. So I don’t know what new programs CPS can add.

  • 259. Chris  |  February 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    258: “property taxes are up”

    What? You got your second installment bill already? How’d you manage that? [snark-free: None of us know if property taxes are up; and won’t know til at least October]

    258: “of the 105 min extra for elementary schools, just 37 min of instruction will be added”

    How much is for recess and enough time to actually eat lunch? Do you *honestly* believe that a bit of down time is *not* seriously beneficial for Elem kids?

  • 260. Kind Ph.d.  |  February 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm


    I think that parents that have low paying jobs without benefits, especially single parents, struggle to provide the basics for their children. Not having a pension and healthcare means that they have to work even more, if they are lucky enough to have a job. A longer day could provide a place for their children where there is supervision, help with homework and perhaps even some tutoring. These are things a stay at home parent does because they are home with their children. Many, many families in this city do not have that luxury.

    I believe in an education for children that is developmentally appropriate. This means that the length and structure of the school day, as well as the length of classes and the subject matter must vary based on the age and the abilities of the students. Elementary school students cannot focus as long as high school students. Elementary school students need recess, some form of physical activity or at a minimum a mental rest between periods of focus. Moreover, it would be better to teach children foreign languages at young ages instead of social studies, using conversational methods because that is how language is universally learned by human beings. The brain readily acquires language early in the development of a child. Teach social studies when the child is older and can put the subject matter into its proper context. These are merely examples.. I believe music and art should be compulsory – yet fun. These are just a few examples. I think a well structured day of 6.5 hours can achieve great things for average children.

    This may not be the case for disadvantaged children, so perhaps the structure should be different depending on the student body.

    As for 7.5 hours being a negotiating stance. I have children to raise. I am trying to schedule summer activities: tutoring, therapies, camping trips and the like, and I don’t even know when school will start. My local school staff is being browbeaten to plan for a 7.5 hour day without funding. If this is purely a negotiating stance, the Mayor is wasting everybody’s energy for nothing, and getting everyone angry in the process. If he wants to fight the CTU, let him. There is nothing stopping him from trying to open negotiations early. He has the law on his side given what has happened in the State Assembly, as it will be nearly impossible to get a strike vote, so why doesn’t he take them on? Everyone knows there needs to be changes in the pension plans and other costs. It is the obfuscation and the lies that are frustrating.

    A classic example is the farce of justifying speeding cameras by placing them by parks and schools. We all know the city needs money. Its just that I prefer cops pulling over speeders because you also catch bad guys with arrest warrants. Just don’t expect officers to pull over people when they don’t have a partner in the car.

    As for your comment regarding testing my power – I don’t claim to have any power, certainly not political. I am a parent, nothing more. I am not sure what you meant by this comment.

    Regarding budget cuts impacting my family, my kids love to read. We use the library. It is not open as often as it used to be. While I have internet access at home, my local library is filled with people that use the computers and read. I can’t think of a more worthwhile way for people to improve their lives than by reading and learning, and I believe it is a mistake to not keep libraries open during most days and early evenings. I am having problems getting a tree cut down in the parkway in front of my house. It is dying and threatening to fall on my house. I am told by my alderman that I am not supposed to have the tree removed myself, but the city is not staffing the tree crews, so there is a long wait.

    With respect to trash collection, the recycling is being picked up less often, and by Waste Management instead of city workers. I believe that they are teamster drivers, but I am not certain that they are required to live in the city. This reduces demand for my house, lowering its value. Again, I am not sure what your point is here, but you have my honest answers.

  • 261. anonymous  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Chris —

    I took it on faith that my property taxes will go up when the Board of Ed raised them, wouldn’t you?

    The average school day in Illinois is 6.5 hours. In the top 10 suburban schools, the average day if 6.5 hours. They get 20 min for lunch and another 20 min for recess. In primary grades there is often 2 recesses.

    In middle school, lunch is 20 and recess is replaced by daily gym.

    All in 6.5 *developmentally appropriate* hours.

    Add an hour of optional after school programs and you get to 7.5 hours. But parents can decide what works best for their children, not CPS.
    That is the difference.

  • 262. Chris  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    “I took it on faith that my property taxes will go up when the Board of Ed raised them, wouldn’t you?”

    When did the BOE raise taxes that are payable *this* year? We don’t know the eq factor (tho we can guess pretty well) and we certainly don’t know the tax extensions–and I’d wager we won’t know until the day after the November election. Sure, it’s a reasonable supposition, but it ain’t a fact, yet.

    “But parents can decide what works best for their children”

    80+% of CPS students are “low-income”–how many of them have the means–financial and otherwise–to provide “developmentally appropriate” after school programs for their kids? This seriously isn’t about the preferences of the 10%, it’s about trying (and quite possibly failing) to meet the needs of the 90%.

    The thing to press for is some fashion of opt out for schools that are meeting their students needs (eg NSCP and Young really should be opt-out no brainers).

  • 263. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:05 am

    That is just what CPS after school programs are for — to provide developmentally appropriate activities — and there are some great opportunities for elementary and high school kids available now through them.

    Frazier Intl has a wonderful school day with an after school component for kids from Englewood area that include debate among other activities through its after school program.
    Debate hones critical thinking skills.

    After School Matters is another great program for high school students that even pays some of the kids a stipend so that they can attend and get hands-on training and experience in a number of the arts from professionals — instead of having to work in, for example, a fast food restaurant.

    Chicago is filled with cultural deserts, and this is a great way to bring the kids to the arts.

    I don’t know why you think parents with low income wouldn’t want that for their kids, too.

    Wonder how many kids have been enrolled in this?

    The issue about parental decision-making is simply this — it makes no sense to mandate an extra-curricular, something kids pursue as an avocation.

  • 264. Chris  |  February 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    “it makes no sense to mandate an extra-curricular”

    Who has many any suggestion like that?

    “Wonder how many kids have been enrolled in this?”

    I’ll go with “less than 1%” (no warranty for accuracy), until you can scare up the taking point.

    “I don’t know why you think parents with low income wouldn’t want that for their kids”

    How are all these “enrichment” activities funded? Can all the low-income parents afford even nominla fees, without potentially making untenable budgeting choices?

    “After School Matters”

    …(no offense intended) died with Maggie Daley. The program is going to go away without its connected benefactor. Just watch; no one can curry favor by donating anymore, so the funds move on to something else.

  • 265. anonymous  |  February 27, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Letter to Editor in Sun Times today

  • 266. HSObsessed  |  January 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Just spent my lunch hour reading this in-depth article in the Atlantic on the current state of the longer school day in Chicago, now that we’re a year and a half in. I think the article is very accurate, and fair to both sides of the debate.

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