Chicago Public Schools Add 36 Minutes To High School Day

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

From Chicago Tribune via Education Week:

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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Photo Credit: iStock


Nancy W.
Nancy W7 years ago

sounds horrible, I remember school for me was a stressful place.

Richard S.
Richard Scaturro7 years ago

The purpose of contemporay American public schools is to create and develop obedient future corporate slaves. It is ridiculous to think of them as being in any way good or effective at providing a necessary and useful education. The are government-mandated day concentration-indoctrination camps, where the poor, the stupid, and the uncaring send their kids to have their spirit and expectations of freedom and discovery of their own potential and possibilities destroyed. They are the government cheese, with debilitating additives, of the masses, and only people who are too poor, too stupid, and/or too genuinely uncaring about their own children send them there. I retired in 2009 after a career teaching in public secondary education spanning 40 years, and I assure you that this is just what they have become. Don't stand in line for that tainted government cheese to give to your children. Buy them the steak of a good private school education instead.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G7 years ago


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson7 years ago

what happened to kids being kids?

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush7 years ago

There's no question, are students are NOT learning properly, at the rate of other industrialized nations. Something has to be done, but, it is not the voucher system, which takes money away from public education, and caters to a fortunate few.

Nancy Black
Nancy Black7 years ago

It may be corny, but it does take a village to educate a child. A part of this village has to be the parents and their culture. Unfortunately, many children are growing up in single parent homes where the parent has to work all the time to support the children, and then the support is generally lacking. It is difficult for children to learn values or material if they are hungry and have no role models to follow. Most of us who are educated came from homes where education was very important; I remember that I was told that college would be my way out of poverty. I believed it, but I wasn't hungry, and my parents explained to me that my job was to learn, not entertain the class. Kids, now adays, do not respect teachers; they see that those who break the law make more money than teachers so why value education. I am not throwing the blame totally on parents; I am throwing the blame on a society that accepts divorce easily and refuses to financially help single parents support and raise their children. Children need to be taught responsiblity and consequences for their actions. It is society's job to help. We can't expect teachers to do it all; they can't.

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T7 years ago

It's a good start, better than losing minutes...

Donna S.
Donna Smallwood7 years ago

Continued - I say lose some of the "fat" at the top and give teachers the opportunity to actually TEACH the kids in a realistic way instead of worrying about political correctness and you will see happy children that are interested and learn what is necessary for their futures.

Donna S.
Donna Smallwood7 years ago

The problem with American education is that it's top heavy - too many chiefs making decisions without regards for the reality of what's going on in the classroom. The kids of today are primarily kinetic learners; they learn BEST by hands-on. No amount of snoozing through boring lectures and textbook-as-teacher will cut it. Kids CAN'T RELATE to what happened in the past so it has no relevance for them and they could care less if they learn it. Not only that, but NCLB has DESTROYED American education! There's no way that children operating at 90% have ANYTHING in common with children operating at 20% except maybe age and geographical location. ALL children AND teachers LOSE BIG TIME by not putting children into level appropriate learning groups. This leads to teacher burnout and student drop out! Just like you don't feed an 8 year old Gerber's cereal and you don't give an infant Corn Flakes, you can't effectively meet the needs of 20 children at all the stages in between with ONE curriculum aimed at audio-visual instruction! If we want children to learn, they have to apply the concepts in the real world. That's what makes video games and virtual reality so enticing to children; they get to try it for themselves to master the world around them. I say lose some of the "fat" at the top and give teachers the opportunity to actually TEACH the kids in a realistic way instead of worrying about political correctness and you will see happy children that are interested and learn what is

Frances C.
Frances C7 years ago

I agree with MargW. Extra curriculum is vital. The 5 or 6 hours a day spent in school is not sufficient. Many kids when out of school do not want to do homework, they watch TV, and spend too much time on their electronic devices. Also, the only decent meal many poor kids eat is at the school lunch. Kids need enough time on academic studies in school where the teachers can help with their questions. They need gym time or play time at recess for fun and health. And after school sports or other activities for those who want them.

With 3 months off in summer kids forget a lot and have to start over when school starts again which is a waste of time. I don't find school a baby sitter, it is a necessity. Kids are at loose ends with so much time off, and when both parents are working they are not monitored enough.

We have enough money in this Country to educate our children. We give hundreds of millions of dollars to big business, oil companies, and financial institutions who in turn give millions to politicians to keep their taxes low.