Most of the people reading this blog are at least done with the K-12 education position of their lives. Yet, public education reform continues to affect their lives even after their high school graduation caps are thrown in the air. For example, how is the longer school day in Chicago going to work? Chicago has been in a tough situation academically with many lagging test scores around the city. The proposed and accepted resolution is a longer school day. Just how long? Students in Chicago Public Schools will now be within school walls for seven hours a day come this September. Chicago had one of the shortest school days in the country at five hours and 45 minutes. So, it's understandable that a correlation between low test scores and shorter school days would be found. Yet, is that enough to justify mandating a longer school day? An even better question will be how will that affect public schools in Chicago? The longer school day is really a quick fix that will disproportionately affect Chicago neighborhood schools. Those with resources will be able to uses that extra hour and 15 minutes efficiently. Yet, those schools aren't the ones that need to raise their test scores. What's the use of an extra hour to learn science if the textbooks are all out of date? To what use can an extra hour come to if there is no money to hire arts teachers to fill those spots? There hasn't even been mention of what is going to happen to the after school programs that run across this city in underprivileged schools. Will they still be able to run their activities? Will the kids be too tired to take advantage of the resources they provide? What problems will the students that choose to participate in the after school programs face from being out later in the streets? Many people are asking for at least a detailed plan as to how to use this extra time. It is a very reasonable expectation, but a standardized plan would mean standardizing the schools. That costs money. The city cannot mandate and extra 15 minutes of recess, if the school has no playground. They cannot mandate a focus on developing tech skills if they have no computer lab. So, kudos to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for beginning to tackle the education problem in Chicago. He had to start somewhere. Yet, school day lengths are only part of the problem. Schools, especially teachers, cannot be expected to just make due with the resources they have. They have been making due for a long time. They are not even asking for state of the art equipment just enough that their students are given a fighting chance to succeed. How can someone say no to that?
Check out my other posts on CTU and education: