Eric Zorn article on the longer day

August 10, 2012 at 9:32 am 75 comments

Looks like the Trib’s Eric Zorn is part of the subgroups of some of you who like to analyze the longer day down to the minute.  While I am a self-identified quant person, I have to admit that I still haven’t gotten my head around the logistics of the longer day.   I know that scheduling a lot of employees can be a major effort, based on when I used to manage the luggage department at Marshall Fields.  But like Karen Lewis, who is mentioned at the end of the article, I tend to think “it’ll all work out.”  Eric seems more skeptical and he’s compiled some numbers to make his case, which I love.

See if what he’s saying jives with what you’ve calculated.

And also – his kids are in CPS high school now?  I may have missed something, but I thought they didn’t place into SE high schools….anyone know the story?

By Eric Zorn:
My first thought:  The recent agreement between   Chicago Public Schools  and the Chicago Teachers Union to add 477  elementary teachers to the payroll and therefore staff the new, longer school day without appreciably increasing the workload for existing teachers heralded a miracle worthy of scripture.

Why? Because the planned longer day — the centerpiece of Mayor  Rahm Emanuel’s strategy to reform education — calls for 52 more minutes a day of instructional time in  kindergarten through eighth grades, a 17 percent increase, and an overall bell-to-bell increase of 75 minutes, a 22 percent increase in time spent in school.

And there are 472 elementary schools in the system with an average enrollment of just under 500 students in each school.

So by adding the equivalent of about one teacher per school, CPS is able to add nearly an hour of extra instruction time per day for every student?

It’s more incredible than that: After hiring (actually rehiring) 477 teachers for an estimated $150 million to $180 million and adding an additional 512 teachers at all levels with $130 million in discretionary funds earmarked by CPS to enhance the longer school day, Chicago still anticipates starting the year with 173 fewer teachers than last year — a staffing decrease of less than  1 percent that’s tied to an anticipated lower enrollment.

Systemwide, the teacher/student ratio will remain about the same. And those dollars now needed to staff the longer day — funds that may increase during the course of ongoing labor negotiations — amount to less than 4 percent of the school system’s overall operating budget.

The day will also be longer, though less dramatically, in the system’s 106  noncharter high schools, where two of my children now attend. Average daily instructional time will increase by half an hour, to 5 hours 52 minutes from 5 hours 22 minutes, or nearly 10 percent.

But because of the elimination of what’s commonly called homeroom, the bell-to-bell high school day will be only 21 minutes longer (5 percent) on average, because students will be dismissed 75 minutes early one day each week.

And this will all happen with high school teachers spending just seven more minutes a day in the classroom, officials said.

Jesus Christ is said to have fed multitudes with a handful of loaves and fishes. CPS CEO  Jean-Claude Brizard is planning to lengthen the school day for multitudes with a similarly minuscule deployment of new resources.

 My second thought:  I’ve  got  to be missing something.

In all these numbers –all these promises, all this confusion — there must be answers. But every single fellow CPS parent I’ve spoken to, including very active parents, is baffled by the question of exactly what’s supposed to happen for teachers and students when school (eventually?) resumes this fall.

How will the schools fill all this extra time? Who will provide supervision for the new recess periods in elementary schools? How could it possibly be cheaper for the system to hire a bunch of new teachers to cover the extra time rather than pay existing teachers to work a little longer?

By peppering the CPS communications department with dozens of pesky  questions, I assembled a lengthy, number-intensive page entry that I hope goes some distance toward at least sharpening the focus of these and other questions.

One data point, for example, is that even though elementary school teachers will work the same seven-hour days as they did last year, they’ll be teaching for an extra 20 minutes during time that used to be an unofficial break when students were at lunch.

Another is that schools will be utilizing not-for-profit groups, parent volunteers and other community and civic resources to help “reorganize” the school day (though not for teaching) in line with plans designed by principals to meet the particular needs of their students.

Still another is that Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, whom I expected to be very skeptical of the assurances that somehow all this will add up to a quality longer day for students, is on board: “If you stagger these things out properly, you can make it work,” she told me.

My final thought:  All that’s left for me now is to sit back and prepare to be amazed.

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75 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul  |  August 10, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Excellent article. I love the numbers as well. I too think that schools can stagger these things out properly to make it work, but some schools will do a better job at this than others. And, depending on enrollment growth or decline and the specific situation of the school, it will be an easier or harder transition. The miracle of additional instruction time with the same teacher work time can be achieved by the elimination of teacher breaks, the requirement for teachers to be at school longer with lunch taken during the school day rather than at the end, and the hiring of an additional “specials” teacher. The additional time and resources gives schools more flexibility with the schedule. We’ll see how much instruction time is actually added. I think many schools under the old closed campus schedule provided less instruction time than required.

  • 2. CarolA  |  August 10, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I, too, wonder how this will all take place in just a matter of days for some schools. The only thing I can offer is that my school’s website is currently asking for parents to help with lunchroom and recess supervision. They are advertising a stipend of $10/hour with flexible hours. No benefits to my knowledge. Other schools are doing something similar. I wonder how parents will enjoy/handle 100 or more students at lunch and recess. I wonder what will happen when their own child is sick and they can’t come in. Will there be a substitute pool for them? Just as we worry about the quality of our child’s teacher, I worry about the quality of the supervisors. I have had some very good and some very bad experiences with parents on field trips regarding supervision. We also have to worry about food allergies and problems if someone gets hurt at recess. Will they be prepared? Should be interesting.

  • 3. Paul  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Yes, supervision for lunch and recess could be a disaster if it’s not managed well. Like Louis CK said, “I volunteer for lunch/recess because that’s a mess. There’s nobody there doing it.”

  • 4. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:45 am

    So far many elementary schools have no one to do before and after school day/recess/lunch…2 many parents work. This was not properly planned by CPS. It’s a mess from what I’m hearing.

    Also Zorn’s kids go to Lane.

  • 5. mekhi  |  August 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Unfortunately that’s where the reassigned teachers who were stripped of their classrooms and are now subs for 10 months comes in. Reassigned teacher reports to the school for 2 weeks. Walks in the office,”Hi I am blah blah reassigned teacher.” As soon as the clerk and administrators hear that, flashing lights go off in their heads responding with, ” Great you can do recess duty, or yeah and lunch duty !” As far as the administrators are concerned Reassigned Teacher means Deadbeat Teacher. It’s really a messed up system.

  • 6. CPS parent (for now)  |  August 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Not all h.s. have eliminated division either. I think the entire thing is a disaster and the board is, yet again, spinning things to make sense.

  • 7. Workingmommyof2  |  August 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Makes me glad I have one more year before my oldest starts K. Hopefully they work out the kinks quickly for this year’s kids.

    I remember Zorn writing in the spring that his twins were accepted to/chose different schools for HS. Maybe that changed?

  • 8. LR  |  August 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Interesting. Why do high schools get out early one day per week, but not elementary schools? Also, I’m wondering if they increased Options Elementary classes to 30 students. My son is going into 1st grade at Beaubien and we got a note saying there are 30 students in the class. Not sure if this was a central office blanket decision, or if it was a Beaubien deciding to bend the rules decision.

  • 9. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    #5~that’s what I heard…so they are paying all these teachers their saleries to babysit and watch over them during lunch.

    Most SEHS still have division but it’s cut down in minutes. This will be a nightmare. HS should be getting out 75 minutes early one day a week.

    Rahm has totally messed up w/the disastrous 7hr day he couldn’t afford. I don’t know why he was so hellbent on 7hrs when he should have been hellbent on paying for it and by that I don’t mean draining reserves!

  • 10. LSMom  |  August 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    His kids are definitely going to different schools, he’s mentioned that a few times. One may be Lane though.

  • 11. Paul  |  August 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    It seems more cost effective to hire supervisors for lunch and recess instead of certified teachers, but I know that many would rather hire more teachers than supervisors. I’m sure those teachers are more reliable than part-time supervisors or parents, but it costs a lot of money. My guess is that schools will generally hire an additional specials teacher or two this year, and then all the specials teachers will take turns in the middle of the day supervising lunch and recess with some parent volunteers helping out. Unfortunately, that reduces the amount of time these specials teachers spend teaching and risks not having enough coverage.

  • 12. CarolA  |  August 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I doubt there would be any available time from the specials teachers to do lunch and recess duty. Reason: Specials are supposed to be 64 minutes or something like that. Given the 7 hour day and the need for those teachers to also have their own lunch and own prep, they won’t be able to teach very many classes in one day. The need for more specials teachers is so that each class in a school will be able to get one special each day whether it be library, gym, music, art, computer, etc. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in a day to get it all in AND have time for lunch/recess duty. I’d be surprised if they could.

  • 13. EdgewaterMom  |  August 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    @6 ‘Division’ confused me for a minute – I couldn’t figure out why we were talking about Math curriculum. After reading the link, I realized that, for some strange reason, CPS refers to homeroom as ‘Division’. 🙂

  • 14. Kris  |  August 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Most high schools in CPS now call Division Advisory. I teach at a Track E H.S. We are working a much longer day than last year,all of our class periods are 18 minutes longer.

  • 15. HSObsessed  |  August 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I know you’re likely tired of hearing me repeat this, but in case there are any new readers: I’m still absolutely astounded that nearly everyone is forgetting that the official length of the CPS day for students ALWAYS was and remains to this day 6.5 hours, but that it had been reduced by 45 minutes to 5.75 hours by a vote of the teachers many, many years ago. That was done by a vote of each school’s teachers, and it allowed the teachers to “take their lunch period” at the end of the day, but basically arranged things so they could leave school 45 minutes early. The vast majority of schools adopted that shortened day for themselves and for the students. I believe this was first allowed in the 1980s or ’90s as one of many factors that helped avert a teachers union strike. To paraphrase what Rahm has said, “I know what the teachers got out of it, and I know what the politicians got out of it, but I don’t know what the kids got out of it.”

    Anyway, after 20 years, memories fade and the voluntary shortening of time on campus but not time on the clock was forgotten. So now that the K-8 students’ day is going to 7 hours, Eric Zorn and others are calculating that the teachers are being asked to work 1.25 hours longer, when it’s really only .5 hours. That’s still worthy of discussion, as I wouldn’t love being asked to work 30 minutes longer every single day I was in the office. I don’t get 10 weeks off for summer break, though, either, which might soften the blow, were that to happen.

  • 16. chicagodad  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Sorry for going off topic, but found a good article on school funding/property taxes to share. I’m still making my way through it.

  • 17. HS Mom  |  August 11, 2012 at 8:21 am

    @15 HS obsessed – thank you for repeating the current situation. Our school was able to handle a 6.5 hour day with lunch and recess and will be able to use an extra half hour well. I’m guessing that this will vary school to school and that those with the extra short day are going to make big adjustments. Necessary, in my opinion.

  • 18. North Center Mom  |  August 11, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I don’t feel comfortable “outing” where minor children attend high school. If Mr. Zorn did this himself in one of his articles that would be one thing, otherwise…. not comfortable with this.

  • 19. cpsobsessed  |  August 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I would say given the extent to which he publicly discussed the application process it feels like a valid question, same as Rahm’s kids. But feel free not to comment on it. Or to comment on not commenting on it. Or to not comment on not commenting about it. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 20. CPSTEACHER4321  |  August 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    The union is holding a meeting for parents and community members at Sulzer.

  • 21. NBCT Vet  |  August 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    @LR re: Why do high schools get out early one day per week, but not elementary schools?

    The schools must meet an average number of minutes per day. To achieve that average some schools will choose a longer day four days a week to allow for a shortened fifth day. The total minutes in school and total instructional minutes per week should be the same.

    My neighborhood high school will have the same length day every day.

  • 22. Patricia  |  August 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

    @HS Obsessed. Thank you for the valid reminder of how we got into the short 5.75 hour day mess. Yes, in reality, we are talking about an additional 1/2 hour for teachers. I agree with Paul that it will vary school by school and that there are more cost effective ways to provide coverage, rather than a certified teacher.

    So far, so good at the schools my kids attend and those that I am very familiar with as well. It seems like the principals/APs are very good at scheduling……and rescheduling…………..and rescheduling. Practice makes perfect? 😉

    There are so many formulas for recess coverage and I beleive CPS has provided videos and profiles of school success stories to principals. The system may have forgotten a lot from 30 years of recess neglect, but it has been done in CPS currently, in the suburbs, across the country and around the world. I tend to think that most will figure it out how to let the kids be kids during recess.

  • 23. Patricia  |  August 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Sorry, correction. Teachers do not work 1/2 hour more, they are status quo at 7 hours. My bad…………..also excuse the poor gramar in my last sentence 😉

    One other point, we need to be careful to not assume that the current dollars are spent wisely at the school level. There is a lot of opportunity already if the principals allocate funds better and I am glad the economic/budget crisis is forcing every school to do this.

  • 24. Mayfair Dad  |  August 13, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Chicago had the shortest school day of any major city in the US. This was an embarrasment. Rahm fixed this. Go Rahm go.

    Today I read on the RYH website that Illinois is dead last in funding public education. This is a crime against children. Who will fix this?

  • 25. LR  |  August 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I didn’t realize Illinois was dead last, but I would expect us to be low in relation to other states because education is largely funded at the municipal level in Illinois. If you look at the numbers, it is almost entirely property-tax based, which explains why some districts spend over $20K per pupil, while others spend less than $10K. I don’t know how to rectify this. It would be great to increase State funding, but I don’t really think schools that already spend $20K per pupil really need any extra money. You could re-allocate state funds, so that the money goes where it is most needed, but certain suburbanites might cry foul.

    As far as Rahm “fixing” things, we’ll see if the longer day makes the enormous difference that he has been selling to everyone. I am skeptical. For our school, I think it is a foolish investment. Perhaps schools that are in lower socio-economic areas will show improvement, but don’t think we are going to see some drastic turnaround.

  • 26. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    August 16th the issue of ChicagoMagazine best schools b4 the longest day

  • 27. RL Julia  |  August 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    And here I always thought New Mexico was last and we were merely second or third to last…. People have resisted equalizing school funding since the beginning of public education practically – I mean what’s the point of living in Winnetka and paying Winnetka taxes when the per pupil alocation is funded at the same level as Dixon?

  • 28. CarolA  |  August 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    @LR Today’s SunTimes mentioned the test scores for the schools that went to the longer school day earlier this past year with Rahm’s incentives. According to the article, half did above the systemwide average and half did below. And that was with a 7.5 hour day, not the 7 hour day.

  • 29. Christine Whitley  |  August 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    @SoxSideIrish: I think CPS Obsessed and I are quoted in that Chicago Magazine article.

  • 30. Recess  |  August 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I can’t imagine that anyone got recess today because it rained all day long…I wonder what the children did during recess time…

  • 31. anonymouse teacher  |  August 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    No good place to put this, but just wanted all the Burley parents out there to know (though you probably already do) that at a literacy workshop today, the facilitator, who sees schools all over the system mentioned Burley as an example of a school that works really well. To be exact, she was semi-speechless and kept using the word “amazing, just amazing” over and over again.

    On a different note, we surveyed the many teachers at this workshop (none were from Burley mentioned above) about class size and half the attendees taught in classrooms with between 36-38 kids. Everytime I hear this, I am beside myself with anger. What horrible learning conditions for kids and horrible working conditions for school staff. Our city has no trouble affording beautiful flower boxes all over the place, but we can’t seem to keep class sizes down to even a high of 30. I don’t know how those teachers do it. I’d take one look at my class list, wait to see how many kids walked in the door the first week, and without a promise to hire an additional teacher or aide, I’d be packing up my things and handing in my resignation letter. 38 is crowd control, not teaching, not by any stretch of the imagination. Why does the media NEVER report on this?

  • 32. Tchr  |  August 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I can tell you! Because lunch and recess now has to be scheduled together and we cannot break it up in the day like we used to, first grade and kindergarten are scheduled to go at the same time. You better believe our gym is not big enough to hold 120+ kids!! My kids came back to our classroom for recess, sat on the rug, and talked to each other while the security guard assigned to watch them… Watched them. Meanwhile I used my 10 minutes of other adult supervision to label the cubbies and folders of newly arrived students. Then when the security guard left, I supplied blocks and play doh, etc for the students. No way I am going to let them play with materials with another adult supervising them BEFORE I teach, model, and practice proper toy use.

    Also, since recess and lunch have to be scheduled together, my students eat breakfast, go to the bathroom, go to their specials class, and go to lunch AND recess all in the first 3 hours of school. And then there are 4 hours of instruction remaining. When we were lining up for lunch, many of them said but we just ate!! Yes kids, but we must eat again now. Primary always gets stuck with the worst lunch and prep schedules, but now I can’t even provide them recess in the afternoon because other classes are scheduled to be on the playground throughout the day according to the lunch schedule. Blah!

    But all in all, I am being too negative. The kiddos were great. They adjust remarkably, and we will make it work the best we can. But that afternoon us going to be a long one!

  • 33. WendyK  |  August 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    @HS Obsessed -the reason recess was eliminated in the 1980s was not as simple as you describe. CPS offered this option because it was no longer deemed safe for students to go home for lunch and CPS was able to save money by not having to figure out how to cover the lunch period so teachers could have a duty-free lunch. A few schools figured it out on their own but the majority did not. I am thrilled that kids will get recess again (barring that CPS provides enough supports for schools that really need help and resources transitioning) but I think it’s false to blame one party for what happened.

    Also, most schools had two short recesses and an hour lunch back then so it’s not accurate that teachers are adding .5 hours now to what they always had.

  • 34. WendyK  |  August 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    @Mayfair Dad – you…me…anyone interested in getting to work on it and actually taking some action. We are planning to work on a long-term coordinated effort over the next two years. Let me know if you want to help. It’s never going to change unless many people demand that it changes.

  • 35. IB obsessed  |  August 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    @34 Wendy-Where do I sign up?

  • 36. WendyK  |  August 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    @IBO – You can sign up for our emails at under “Join Us” or email me your contact info and let me know your level of availability. I am at

  • 37. MMGary  |  August 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I am a CPS high school teacher, and an instructional leadership team member who worked diligently this summer to propose SEVERAL school schedules to the Board. While I appreciated this post, and Zorn’s piece, a couple things to be clarified… The high school bell-to-bell schedule is NOT only 21 minutes longer. The difference depends on the pre-existing schedule. For example, my school previously ran from 8am-2:35pm. We began classes today (Track E) and our new, “extended day” schedule runs from 8:00-3:30, four days a week and until 2:45 on Wednesdays. That’s an additional INSTRUCTIONAL 55 minutes a day, which may not seem like much, but at this point it is unpaid time. The agreement for schools to hire displaced teachers or other new staff for the additional time does not apply to high schools.
    The schools that went back to class this week raise an additional concern, as we have already started teaching and may never be compensated of the work we are doing for free. At the very least, this amounts to about $600 that each teacher will be out before a strike is even called.

  • 38. EdgewaterMom  |  August 14, 2012 at 3:21 am

    @37 MMGary In previous years, did high school teachers also have their lunch break at the end of the day the way that elementary teachers did? I know that for elementary teachers, moving their break to the middle of the day makes the day seem longer even though it is not increasing working time.

    It must be especially challenging for Track E schools, because they really did not have much time to prepare for the changes!

  • 39. CPS Parent and Counselor  |  August 14, 2012 at 9:21 am

    No. High School teachers have never had the option of moving lunch to the end of the school day. It’s always frustrating because discussions around this subject always imply that all CPS teachers had that option when, in fact, it only applies to elementary schools.

  • 40. HS Mom  |  August 14, 2012 at 9:50 am

    @37 – Looks like your day is longer because your high school has a shorter day. Why should you be paid for additional time when other high school teachers have already been working additional time as part of the current schedule?

  • 41. Patricia  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    @ IB Obsessed and WendyK. Agree that both sides bear the burden of the pathetic 5.75 hour day without recess. The change in schedule was not mandated it was negotiated as a schedule option by both CTU and CPS. It permeated through the system on a school by school vote as IB Obsessed pointed out. (And let’s be honest, it was primarily driven by teachers and the principals did not fight shortening the day.) Essentially all schools walked through the loophole created in the contract and there is no way that almost the entire system had to go to 5.75 hour day. While some instances may have to do with cost, the main reason is the schedule was better for the adults involved. Plain and simple. Some of the best schools like Bell, Edison, Norwood Park, LaSalle, etc. have maintained recess and/or never gave it up. It was a school by school choice. I do agree that both CTU and CPS had their agendas and the kids were left out of the equation and got the short end of the deal for decades. As Mayfair Dad pointed out, it is an embarrassment that is well on its way to being rectified.

    Also, teachers are not being asked to work any longer in elementary. They are status quo at 7 hour work day. I think there was the additional .5 before the recent longer day interim deal.

  • 42. Afterschool  |  August 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I have many friends who are teachers in elementary schools. What really burns me about the longer school day is that ALL of them say they will NOT be staying after school to do clubbs, sports, etc. If they work the klonger school day & are let out before the students then who is going to really wait around until the kids get out???

  • 43. teech  |  August 14, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    We used to get prep time before the school day started. Our start time has now changed to coincide with students’ start time. Of course many teachers will no longer volunteer their time for after school programs. I know many coaches that won’t be coaching this year. Also, I wonder how after-school programs will be funded? Or will the powers that be say that those programs should be implemented during the extended day?

  • 44. anonymouse teacher  |  August 14, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    @42, all teachers must stay until the end of the school day hours that children attend.
    It is true that much of the funding for after school activities has been lost due to waning grant money and that some teachers who used to do after school programs will no longer be working that extra program due to increased responsibilities to meet the rigor of Common Core. It is my understanding that at least some schools will offer tuition based programming for after care and after school enrichment. I believe some schools are hiring outside vendors to teach those programs. Each family will be able to decide if such programs are within their own budget.

  • 45. CarolA  |  August 15, 2012 at 6:27 am

    There will be a lot of extra responsibilities this year with the Common Core implementation. At least, that’s my understanding. I know that my principal plans on having meetings with us all day on each of the 5 days before the children start. By union rules, he must give us 1/2 day for getting our room together, but any good teacher knows that’s no where near enough. I spent all of yesterday at my room and will be spending at least 4 more full days before I officially start to make sure I’m reading to go when the students arrive.

    I know when my school was looking for new teachers, part of the requirement for being hired was that they were would be willing to work after school programs. I think teachers will really be exhausted and over time it will take it’s toll.

    My school is once again advertizing for parent feedback regarding tuition based programming for before and after school. Last year we only had 3 parents take advantage of it. It was a great program run by qualified teachers, but it was EXPENSIVE! As a result, it couldn’t be maintained. I think they needed at least 15 children in order to make it worthwhile.

  • 46. DREAM For CPS Kids | District 299: The Inside Scoop on CPS  |  August 15, 2012 at 8:01 am

    […] Eric Zorn article on the longer day cpsobsessed: Like Karen Lewis, who is mentioned at the end of the article, I tend to think “it’ll all work out.”  Eric seems more skeptical and he’s compiled some numbers to make his case, which I love. […]

  • 47. Also mom  |  August 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Does anyone know of a compendium of the new 2012-13 school hours? Thank you.

  • 48. Don Justice  |  August 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Have any of you seen the REACH assessments that will evaluate student growth for teacher merit pay. (1) the “learning tasks” are awful. say what you will about the ACT, but the questions are vetted by millions of test takers per year, and bad questions are eliminated because of focus testing. (2) did you know that teachers grade their own tests? what kind-of moron is going to say that their students learned nothing.

  • 49. @#44  |  August 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    When I add 5hrs and 45 minutes plus the 45 minute lunch I come up with 6 hours. Teachers won’t be working past that time according to the news. So that leaves 30 minutes of the 7 hour day. What do teachers do with the 30 minutes if they aren’t being required to work additional time??? I don’t get how they get out when the kids get out? Am I missing something???

  • 50. @#44  |  August 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Oops I meant 6.5 hours not 6 hours….

  • 51. CarolA  |  August 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Quick update: Rumor mill has it that these big unit plans that are now expected are time consuming, but they will take the place of weekly lesson plans which I have always felt were useless to me. They only helped administration see what we were teaching and that could easily be done by them just popping in often. So, that’s actually great news because we should be able to use them from year to year if we stay in the same grade level with minimal changes. Also, at my school, we are switching to a computer based test rather than DIBELS and that’s fantastic news. DIBELS was super time consuming and wasted a lot of valuable class time for those students not getting tested at that moment (given busy work). Between these two changes, it should free up a lot of my time so that I can dedicate quality time to the students. YEAH! Change can be good!

  • 52. anonymouse teacher  |  August 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Carol, have you seen in writing which tests your school will be required to use? Our school got the low down from our network chief. We are also doing the NWEA test (the computer based test you mention) PLUS every single other test we had to do last year PLUS performance tasks each quarter in each subject. All that on top of unit tests, etc.
    We are worried that with overcrowding, too, our computer lab will have to become a classroom. At this point, our administrators are seriously looking into having their offices, and the offices of the case manager, the nurse, the social worker, PT/OT and those kinds of staff in the hallways using dividers. But fire code issues arise with that. It could be that we have to do away with our gymnasium or ripping out all the chairs in the auditorium and turning that into 3 different classrooms with dividers. Everyone at my school is majorly stressed out!

    I don’t agree that we’ll save time with the unit plans and I also think this will be a passing trend, so I fully expect we’ll be doing something completely different next year or the year after. But, who knows? If I am pleasantly surprised, I will come back and let you know!

  • 53. the 30 minutes  |  August 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    OK anoymouse teacher I just got off the phone with a teacher friend of mine. Previuosly teachers were required to arrive 30 minutes before the students and now they enter with the students. Although the school day for kids was 5.45 the teacher day was 6.15 and that accounts for the 30 minutes….

  • 54. CarolA  |  August 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I know for sure we are doing NWEA and for sure we don’t have to do DIBELS. However, I think we all have to do the REACH and I forgot about that. I know I also have reading and math tests that go with our programs but was seriously thinking of doing a major reduction to that. Our KDG teachers said they stopped doing them 2 years ago and do their own assessments. I know the unit plans are supposed to have assessments built in so why not use that for the assessment? Maybe I’m just dreaming that it will be better. I was just THRILLED that I don’t have to do DIBELS.

    Sounds like your school is super overcrowded. Went through that same situation years ago where the lunchroom got converted and dividers used. Bookrooms and hallways became classes. Not fun. Finally got an annex. Not fair, those teachers got air conditioning! Happy for them, sad for me. LOL

    I agree the unit plans are a passing fancy as most things are in CPS. In the meantime, we are stuck doing them. I remember years ago we spent days and days aligning curriculum between grade levels. We had charts and graphs and the whole nine yards and then…..gone.

    Do you remember being told that the Palm Pilots we use for DIBELS were like gold and we practically had to sign in blood for them? I bet they never get collected. Again…..wasted money. And I just got a new one last year.

  • 55. anonymouse teacher  |  August 16, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Yes, 53, that is how the BOE accounts for the time. Though, obviously, no one can really enter with the students. I could see, in an emergency or something, one might be able to walk in the door at 7:58, but on a regular basis, no way. It is a way to “spin” hours so that the city and the union can try to save face. Personally, I can’t do a good job without at least an hour in my room both before and after school, not counting time at home, but that’s just me. I would be surprised to see any teachers, in my building at least, arriving less than 30 minutes before kids. It just isn’t that kind of job. Plus, we all know there will be required meetings once or twice a week and that is part of the job.

    Carol, I can see where the unit assessments could take the place of some other “teacher made” tests, so you are right on that–I am going to take that piece as a bonus. I am actually beginning to wonder if some system change has happened since I last got our testing schedule that eliminated Dibels. The last schedule I saw was put out 2 weeks ago, and so much gets shifted around–I am crossing my fingers that we don’t have to do them too! I did hear that we’d only have to do Dibels on kids that didn’t do well on TRC’s, but since virtually all of my students walk in the door unable to meet the basic standards measured on the TRC’s, I was counting on having to give Dibels to them. Could it be that is what you meant? Otherwise, who knows? Maybe your network doesn’t have to give them, maybe the network chiefs all got push back from principals and next week we’ll all get a revised version of the test schedule or maybe my network chief just won’t bend whereas another one did. It is hard to understand how we can say we want to be able to compare all schools through those school performance reports that come out each spring when every network is requiring different tests!

    About the palms–too funny! My husband thinks CPS is in the dark ages for still using them. My guess is they’ll end up in the trash. I’d actually prefer to use running records on paper anyday, because I feel they give me the very best information about all of my readers but my school won’t use them. Seriously, sometimes, and I realize there is no great conspiracy here, but sometimes the policies and procedures in place make me think they actually WANT us to do poorly. Good school districts, even “meh” school districts are not run this way. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, good schools and good classrooms happen in spite of our system, never because of it.

  • 56. The 30 minutes  |  August 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Just got off the phone with another teacher friend and she said this… teachers worked 6 hours and 15 minutes before and with the 45 minutes for lunch that brings us to 7 hours. The 30 minutes before school was a prep then most BUT not all teachers got a 40 minute prep during the school day. Now that teachers have an hour prep they lose 10 minutes of prep time and she & I just figured that out today! However like you say most teachers will still arrive before the students and end up working longer hours for no pay….

  • 57. CarolA  |  August 17, 2012 at 6:50 am

    @56 Yes, I tried explaining that loss of 10 minutes to my neighbors because CPS is advertising all about how we are getting this fabulous 60 minute prep each day when the reality is that we are losing time! That’s CPS

    anonymouse: All I know is we have a new teacher on our team and she was nervous about learning DIBELS. When she talked to the principal for training he told her not to worry because we weren’t doing it at all. We’ll see. As much of a pain administering the test was, it did provide some good data. I hope the NWEA does the same for us. My daughter uses NWEA for her KDG students and loves it. They also use Fountas and Pinnell for running records.

  • 58. CLB  |  August 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Keep in mind that the schools have limited discretion over the use of the daily instructional time, at least at the elementary level. For 3rd-8th, only 25% of the time (90 min) is decided at the school level (Academic intervention, Full Academic Offerings [Arts, World Languages, Library, Physical Education, Health & Wellness],
    Social emotional learning & behavioral interventions). The majority of the time is pre-set by CPS.

    At Mayer, some students will receive two “specials” (art, music, drama, Spanish, gym, library) a day, rather than just one. Others will receive Spanish twice a week rather than just once a week. It’s a fair plan, but CPS has not given the schools much time to plan this out since budgets were not available until May. The result has been frustrated parents with the school admin left holding the bag.

  • 59. Chris  |  August 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    “I don’t feel comfortable “outing” where minor children attend high school. If Mr. Zorn did this himself in one of his articles that would be one thing, otherwise…. not comfortable with this.”

    1. He’s avoided it, except that they are at CPS, in diff schools, and not their attendance area school.
    2. BUT, he posted something that disclosed it, to those who might do 2 google searches.
    3. SSI is at least partly incorrect.

  • 60. Tchr  |  August 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    School begins at 8:15am for students.  Work “begins” at 8:15am for me as well.

    There is no way I could actually show up at 8:15 or even 8:05.  Teachers are required to set out breakfast for students. How is that supposed to be done unless I come in before 8:15?  Also, our school does announcements and greetings at say 8:11. Students begin walking in the building at 8:15. 

    It seems petty. Like I am worried about not being paid for 15 extra minutes of work. But I am constantly not paid for 15-20 minutes of work throughout my work day. **
    When specials teachers are absent and subs don’t show up or teachers quit mid year and even mid day (which unfortunately happens quite often in high poverty schools) we lose our prep. Yes, that 60 min prep.  Or when it is raining or too cold and recess needs to be in my classroom and there are not enough adults to supervise, I lose that 25 min prep. Or when maybe 2 adults isn’t enough to watch 120+ 5, 6, and 7 years olds wait in the lunch line, get all the parts of their lunch, sit in the right spot and actually EAT their lunch. 

    We stretch ourselves thin because we have to and we want the best for our students and we dread the bigger mess of breaking up fights and stopping arguments that wouldn’t have happened had we just watched our kids. 

    My paycheck is not any more than it was last year, but I AM doing way more work. Work I have described that isn’t actually even “teaching”.  Yay CPS. You extended the day, but don’t mistake that the raise in my students’ test scores is because of the “added time”. It is because I am a year smarter and did professional development on my own in the summer. 

    **(Not including the extra 3.5 hours I am at school after the kids leave. Not including the extra hour of work I do when I get home. Not including the days I went in over the summer to get my classroom ready.  Not including the days I will go in on weekends to change/clean the room, make copies, or put up required new bulletin boards,  and do lesson plans on Sundays.)

    People will always say, “but you have the summer off”, but really, how much disrespect and extra work do I have to do to rightfully earn that???

  • 61. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    #59~Mr Zorn has said on WWT b4~his one child goes to Lane, his oldest just graduated from College~private in the City/more southside (I’ll let every guess) and I don’t know where his younger one goes to elementary school but I believe it is his neighborhood school bc I heard he didn’t get into the sees.

  • 62. mekhi  |  August 17, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    @ Tchr…Amen!

  • 63. mekhi  |  August 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    @ CLB..Mayer had some nice want to learn upper grade students, but mixed in that nice bunch are some upper grade students who are pretty rough! How is that working out?

  • 64. cpsobsessed  |  August 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    I guess I’m not that curious about which specific schools his kids go to, but I *thought* he’d written like they’d totally missed out on SE high schools. As I re-read his post, it sounds like perhaps he meant they missed out on the top SE schools perhaps? So maybe 1 is at Lane. I guess given that he seems like a fellow obsessor a bit, he knows a lot about the schools, and I trust him to make wise education choices, I was curious how it had played out assuming the kids hadn’t gotten into SE high schools. We’re all curious about other choices and “back-ups” so I was just curious how it had worked out, as I would be with any other parent in that situation. More from a selfish point of view, imagining myself in that same situation in a few year.

  • 65. teech  |  August 17, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Anonymouse teacher- It is called disaster capitalism. The government will purposely set up a system for failure. It will intentionally create chaos and effectively control propaganda. Typical tactic for union busting.

  • 66. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    @64~CPSO~I’m always curious too abt parents’ kids’ school bc I like to find out if they are happy w/their schools. Just from your site, I’ve learned abt a lot of schools I’ve never heard of and ppl seem so pleased w/their neighborhood schools. I enjoy hearing that. One reason we moved into our neighborhood was bc of the neighborhood schools. However, now bc the schools are good, many families have left the Catholic schools and began going to the neighborhood schools~thus all schools are becoming really overcrowded.

  • 67. anonymouse teacher  |  August 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    @65, really? I wasn’t being serious, are you? I guess I have never viewed CPS as competent enough to set up any kind of a system with an actual goal in mind, let alone to “bust the union”. Don’t get me wrong, I think 90% of CPS policies are really, really bad ones and I don’t think we do much that sets us up to succeed, but I don’t truly believe their is anything being set up on purpose. The leadership throughout the system, for the most part, just isn’t intelligent enough for that.

  • 68. anonymouse teacher  |  August 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I should have said “there” not “their”.

  • 69. RL Julia  |  August 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    @67 – as a governmental employee – I can attest that we have no overarching plans for systemic disaster. For the most part the people in my office are just trying to get their work done with no extra time for hatching large scale disruptions of social order. i mean, we spent all of our time trying to prevent, patch up life disruptions – why would we purposely create any??

  • 70. Don Justice  |  August 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Don’t forget that JC Brizzard was trained by Eli Broad, who hates unions and believes in creating working tension and stress for success. Of course, Broad knows nothing about education . . .

  • 71. anonymouse teacher  |  August 20, 2012 at 12:05 am

    @69, yeah, I am agreeing with you, thus my statement of, “I don’t truly believe there is anything being set up on purpose.” Who was it that said that bureaucratic chaos can often be misconstrued as conspiracy? Sometimes things are so bad in my workplace that it really does appear as conspiracy, but I know it is not.
    I don’t view CPS leadership at being competent enough to pull any kind of overarching “evil plan” (sorry, my brain is creating really funny comic book like illustrations right now and remembering back to when Bush called the 9/11 criminals evildoers. My husband would just shake his head and say no one should use the word evil doers unless they were wearing a blue cape.) But anyone who has ever had to deal extensively with CPS or worked for them understands that feeling of “set up to fail”.

  • 72. Constance Kalas  |  August 24, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Has ANYONE checked the math of the cost of hiring 477 additional teachers! At a cost of $150,000,000 to $180,000,000, each teacher would receive between $315,000 and $377,000 in salary and benefits! I just retired after 34 years of teaching at CPS and my peak salary WITH benefits was $80,000. Most of the teachers CPS plans to hire are within the 55,000 to 80,000 range (and that includes cost of benefits). I was on the LSC. I saw the numbers). Anyone making more than that would be retiring. How does CPS come up with these figures? if they hired 477 teachers at 100,000 each it would only cost $47,000,000 not $180,000,000. Teachers wouldn’t be striking at that salary.

  • 73. Chris  |  August 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    “Mr Zorn has said on WWT b4~his one child goes to Lane, his oldest just graduated from College~private in the City/more southside (I’ll let every guess) and I don’t know where his younger one goes to elementary school but I believe it is his neighborhood school bc I heard he didn’t get into the sees”

    Dude, his younger kids are twins. They are both in HS, at different HS’s. Elder, off to grad school, went to Payton. There is no Zorn child in elementary school, but they went private, not neighborhood.

  • 74. cpsobsessed  |  August 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Dude, he refers to “non charter high schools, where two of my children now attend.”
    That isn’t private.
    I thought they went to private too, so this was my question.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 75. Chris  |  August 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    “Dude, he refers to “non charter high schools, where two of my children now attend.”
    That isn’t private.
    I thought they went to private too, so this was my question. ”

    I was unclear–they went to private *elementary*.

    They are both at CPS, non-charter HS’s now. 2 different ones(unless one switched for some reason). Which ones was revealed by details he posted. Because he chose not to disclose directly, I won’t confirm or deny about which beyond that.

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