How should Chicago schools use the extra time (if teachers allow it)?

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, like Richard M. Daley before, wants a longer school day, implying that Chicago public school kids and taxpayers aren't getting full value for the price.


Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune / November 4, 2010 )
Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union and community activists hold a press conference in front of Mayor's office asking for a national search to replace Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman. Jitu Brown of Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization is on the right.

Well, sure, Chicago Teachers' Union president Karen Lewis allowed, a longer school day would be better, although she suggested that it doesn't much matter, at least in Houston, an "outlier" (as she called it), which sends it K-12 kids to school for a total of four years longer. As she said, Houston kids didn't score  “significantly better” results on standardized tests.

Is this a joke?

As Fran Spielman reported in the Sun-Times:

The only question is, how schools would use the extra time.

"One of the things we want to make sure is that we have professional development built into the day and that we also have a full, rich curriculum that includes art, music, recess, p.e., history and science for all students," Lewis said.

Building "professional development into the day" means paying teachers not to spend their time in the classroom. And a "full, rich curriculum" is jargon for suggesting that perhaps what will be taught is a matter for collective bargaining.

Do the teachers really need someone to tell them what they should teach? Why don't they trying teaching the kids to read and do math?

Notably, the teachers' union didn't back the winning horse in the mayoral election. What with the dismal record of the Chicago public school system and all the other problems, I wonder what union leaders think they have as leverage.


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  • The real question is whether Emanuel has the leverage with the legislature for it to mandate extra instructional time, which he reportedly asked it to do.

    Also, with reports that the teachers want to manipulate lunch and recess times, whether a longer school day means more instructional time.

    The thing I figure is that the members of the teachers' union elected someone who looked like the label of a glue bottle (used in the Woodsmith Shop and American Woodshop) for one purpose, which was not to assure that students learned something. I bet she really goes off the deep end if the legislature mandates more instruction time without more pay, or some level of accountability.

  • Whoa, where to start? First, CTU didn't back anyone for Mayor. Not the winner, not the loser. Second, some of the schools that have longer school days are counting their recess time. To really compare systems, you need to look at just instructional minutes. In that respect, we compare just fine with NY and other large systems. Third, many groups are talking about bringing recess back to CPS, not just CTU. I'm seeing it in the media as well as with prominent parent groups. You cannot reasonably keep children in school from 8:30 -3:30 every day without some sort of break in the middle of the day ( more than the 20 minute lunch they now get). Currently, most CPS kids barely get 40 minutes a week of Gym, so adding more physical activity time to their day is not illogical. And finally, do a little research on the educational practices of the countries we often hold up as being the "best" ( Japan, Sweden, etc). Many have much more planning time for teachers (professional development) than CPS teachers get. If you want to compare Chicago to these other places, you need to take the whole package, not just the parts you like.

  • In reply to b5ranger:

    Most of this is "inside baseball."

    I suppose that the elementary kids should get recess. However, if that's the real point about extending the school day (see my first post), that isn't worth getting the legislature involved. They won't solve it anyway.

    The real question is whether places like Japan and Sweden have the type of lack of achievement that Chicago does, also the gang violence in its schools.

    Anyway, I remember when there were 32 students in an elementary school class and teachers prepared at home and worked in the steel mill during the summer. We still learned stuff, and got into prestigious universities on academic scholarships.

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