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Longer School Day Mandates Recess, Specific Times For Subjects

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Chicago Public Schools

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Updated 01/23/12 – 4:15 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Public Schools principals on Monday were issued a set of guidelines from their bosses on how to divvy up longer school days starting in August.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, the guidelines focus on how much time should be spent on specific subjects, as well as lunch and recess.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard now has longer school days planned down to the minute, starting next school year.

“We’ve never had standards before around this in the city, so this is very new to the city; creating a framework, minimum expectations across all schools,” Brizard said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports


The guidelines issued Monday lay out expectations about exactly how much time will be spent on subjects during the proposed 7 ½-hour school day.

The longer school day will provide elementary school students with 54 minutes of extra “face time” with teachers and specific minimum times spent on subjects like reading, math, science and social studies.

High schools get 46 minutes more instructional time per day, but that extra time is not broken down specifically.

Brizard said after months of discussions with principals, teachers and parents, the district’s longer day committee has come up with a template for classroom instruction depending on grade.

For example, a first and second grader’s day would include 120 minutes for reading and writing, 60 minutes for math, 40 minutes for science, 30 minutes for social studies and 140 minutes a day for “intervention” and so-called “accelerated classes,” such as the arts, physical education and other programs. It will be up to individual schools to decide how to split time between physical education, arts and other subjects.

The expanded instructional schedule comes to 6 ½ hours a day, leaving 60 minutes open.

Brizard said those 60 minutes would be for lunch and recess. The guidelines suggest to principals that recess and lunch be combined, with recess first, so the children build up more of an appetite and eat more, and waste less food.

Teachers – although most of them put in way more time than they are scheduled to – will be on the clock officially an average of 10 minutes a day longer than students.

All the schools in the CPS system will adopt the longer school day beginning next school year.

Not every parent likes the one size fits all approach.

“We think that every school has different needs. Communities have different needs. Schools have different facilities. You have to design something that takes all those things into account,” said public school parent Pat Berklich.

Brizard said all those issues will be considered.

“Principals very simply are creating a plan – collaboratively with the parents and the teachers – that will be submitted to the school chief (of that area of the city) and his or her staff to review and to approve,” Brizard said. “Then it comes up to this level for us to actually review.”

But Berklich and “No Longer Day” member Christine McGovern said they aren’t convinced and they wonder how CPS will pay for the longer school day and the new teachers that will be needed at some schools.

They said they will continue to voice those concerns.

“This is America. There’s no such thing as a fight being lost. We were given this right to voice our opinion and I’m using it now,” McGovern said.

McGovern, who is also a local school council member, said there will be an open meeting at Mount Greenwood Elementary School on Tuesday to discuss the longer school day specifics.

As for paying for the longer school day, it is still unclear how cash-strapped CPS will pay for the extra teachers and other resources needed to enact a longer school day.

Already, 13 Chicago Public Schools have enacted the longer school day, following a controversial push by Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Chicago Teachers Union was infuriated when Emanuel and Brizard urged schools to break ranks with the union and go ahead with the longer school day on their own. The schools that complied received an extra $150,000 in funding from CPS, and teachers at the schools received $1,250 bonuses and 2 percent raises.

The union then sought an injunction to block the longer day from taking effect this year. Teachers Union president Karen Lewis argued that Emanuel and Brizard violated the union’s contract by allowing some schools to break ranks.

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