Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students will attend high school an extra 36 minutes a day and homeroom will be a thing of the past under district guidelines issued on December 22 for moving those schools to a longer school day next year.
By lengthening and reconfiguring the high school day, CPS officials say they can add 46 minutes of instructional time for students, to give students more time with teachers and improve their performances in core subjects such as math and reading. I wonder what plans they have to improve math and reading instruction?
Move To Align With CPS Elementary Schools
The move also aligns the high school day with the new 7 1/2-hour standard for CPS elementary schools, which historically have had some of the shortest school days in the nation. Mayor Rahm Emanuel led the charge earlier this year to lengthen elementary school days by 90 minutes, dangling financial incentives to schools that adopted the longer day this year.
Thirteen elementary schools took up the offer, implementing longer days over the strong objections of union leaders, who accused the mayor and CPS officials of coercing teachers into breaking their union contracts.
All Schools Will Move To 7 1/2 Hour Day
But in spite of this contentious battle with the Chicago Teachers Union, all of the district’s 675 elementary and high schools are scheduled to move to the 7 1/2-hour day with the 2012-2013 school year.
“We have launched an intensive planning process to ensure all schools are ready to implement a more rigorous curriculum focused on college and career readiness when the full school day schedule begins next fall,” CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said.
Chicago Teachers’s Union Is Not Happy
Once again Thursday, union Vice President Jesse Sharkey called the longer school day push “politically motivated” and said that if the district was serious about wanting students on campus longer, it shouldn’t have cut so many after-school programs from next year’s budget.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve heard no demands from actual education practitioners or parents or community members for a longer high school day,” Sharkey said.
The change would require teachers be onsite for an extra 39 minutes a day, providing an extra 32 minutes of instruction.
Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) officials, who won their Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board case accusing CPS of illegal negotiations in its recruitment of schools for the pilot — ahead of the planned 2012-2013 rollout — and got CPS to agree to freeze the pilot in order to avoid a preliminary injunction being sought by the Illinois attorney general, said the new guidelines do not address necessary reform.
Concerns With Lengthening The School Day
From The Chicago Sun Times:
“It won’t matter how much longer a struggling student stays in a high school building if that school is under-resourced and under-staffed,” (CTU spokesman) Gadlin charged. “Lengthening the high school day, without a thorough public safety plan for students or a commitment to additional funding and staff is not good education policy.”
Gadlin said the union is also concerned about teens who hold down jobs to help out at home.
“We don’t want teens choosing between staying in school longer or going to work to help support their families in these hard economic times. The Chicago Teachers Union looks forward to a productive and challenging dialogue with CPS,” Gadlin said.
Teachers also will be expected to lengthen their workdays by 39 minutes, although CPS’ announcement did not say whether that would come with an increase in pay.
More Of The Same Won’t Provide Improvement
Adding more minutes to a school day that is unproductive makes no sense at all. However, if Chicago Public Schools are planning to revamp their entire high school education system to provide better instruction, then an extra 36 minutes could be useful.
It all depends on the quality of the instruction.
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