Emanuel Continues Push for Longer School Days in Chicago

While Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushes on with his decision to lengthening Chicago's school day to 7.5 hours, the teachers union and a parent group maintain that there is not enough research to support the move.

The parent group Raise Your Hand said a survey they conducted late last year shows that most parents don't support the action. Critics say that there's a reason no other school district in the country has a 7.5 hour day systemwide.

Raise Your Hand co-founder Wendy Katten said:

"Parents want a longer day, but the parents we hear from don't believe we need the longest day in the nation.

"Parents at Skinner North (who have already adopted a 7.5-hour day) feel their kids are already exhausted."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard spoke at a news conference at Mays Academy, one of two public schools that switched on Monday to a longer day, writes Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah at the Chicago Tribune.

"Mays' s joined 38 charters that voted for the extra 90 minutes of instruction starting in January, in exchange for a $75,000 bonus for the school and an $800 stipend for teachers.

"The neighborhood schools new schedule will allow teachers to add time each day for math, language arts, social studies and science."

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board recently denounced the plan to give children 90 more minutes a day of schooling, saying that it would cause "irreparable harm". Emanuel disagrees:

"Seven-and-a-half hours is based on what you need to build to get kids to be career- and college-ready," Emanuel said.

Chicago Teachers Union staff coordinator Jackson Potter said that the union disputes the idea that of the 10 major cities in the nation, Chicago ranks last in time spent in the classroom.

The union will also be looking for compensation for teachers who will be spending extra time in the classroom, a point currently being negotiated as part of new contract talks the city is having with the union.

"Why do we have this lock-step approach?" Potter asked.

"Why can't parents' concerns be addressed, and why are we fixated on 7 1/2 hours?"

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