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Parents Rally Downtown For Longer School Day

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(Credit: Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images)

roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – As 200 students and parents touted a longer school day and other initiatives on Saturday at a rally hosted by the advocacy group “Stand for Children” at Roosevelt University, a small group of protesters picketed outside.

The school advocacy group “Stand for Children” attracted more than 200 parents and students to a meeting Saturday at Roosevelt University.

Outside, on Michigan Avenue, about 15 protesters marched, but they actually seemed to share many goals.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts Reports


Both groups said that parents must speak up and be patient, that schools should have more local control and that scarce resources must be spent wisely. But parent Leonard Round was inside, touting what a 7-1/2 hour day has done for Skinner North School, one of 13 “pioneer” extended-day schools.

“We want what is best for our kids. Not what is easiest, not what is best for us but what is best for our kids,” he said. “Put simply, the longer day for my kid has been great — more time at school to learn, more time at school to socialize, more time to have fun at school. Really.”

Stand for Children’s Maria Michael said she was disappointed to see Emanuel scale back his proposal for a longer day from 7-1/2 hours to seven hours, saying it means the equivalent of 12 class days will be shaved from the schedule.

Outside, parent Jim Paris protested. He has students in kindergarten and the fourth grade at Mt. Greenwood Elementary School. He said the longer day is not for everyone.

“We in Mt. Greenwood know what’s best for Mt. Greenwood Elementary School,” he said. “I don’t think I know what’s best for a school in Bridgeport, or a school in Englewood. I think the people, the teachers, the parents and the community know what’s best for their children.”

He said he doubts Mayor Rahm Emanuel “gives a damn about those kids,” and said, “(Schools CEO) Jean-Paul Brizard doesn’t even know Chicago.”

Both sides seem to agree on one other point. They said it is not the length of the day that is most important, but how the time is used.

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