The push for a longer school day

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expandedlearningtimefinal_2_12

Then: 2011

CPS historically has had one of the nation’s shortest school days among large urban districts. In 2011, the state legislature granted Mayor Emanuel the power to lengthen the school day unilaterally. However, the CTU contract did not expire until 2012, so Emanuel achieved his goal using a waiver provision that allowed individual schools to voluntarily opt out of contract provisions. Thirteen schools accepted Emanuel’s bargain to lengthen their school days by 90 minutes in exchange for teacher bonuses of $1,250 and an additional $150,000 in school funding. After an outcry and unfair labor practice charges from the CTU, Emanuel ultimately agreed to stop expansion of the waiver program.

See Duncan, Emanuel tout longer school day, Catalyst September 2011; and CPS agrees to halt longer school day Pioneer Program, Catalyst November 2011


 Now

Once the union contract expired in June 2012, Emanuel used his legislative authority to bring the length of Chicago’s elementary school day to seven hours, with an additional half hour for high schools. He also added an additional 10 days to the school year, and made recess mandatory. One downside? Without extra pay for extra hours, the teachers union negotiated a provision requiring teachers to be at school only during the same hours as students, making staff meetings and teacher collaboration difficult. Experts agree that to improve their schools, teachers need time to work together.

See Emanuel backtracks on longer school day, Catalyst April 2012.


 Next

With the looming pension crisis and budget meltdown, will CPS be able to maintain a longer school day? The CTU has now made adequate teacher preparation time a priority in contract negotiations. Will they get it?

  • Andrea L.

    What is rarely mentioned in the discussion about this accomplishment is that the instructional day was not extended. Money was found for art and library for one year, but for the most part, the extra time was used for recess and an extended lunch, which teachers could no longer schedule at the end of the day. So, in effect, teachers were in the building longer but taught the same hours, which might have been expected when the distrcit had no money to extend the day. Some people have suggested that is the real reason that 49 schools had to be closed.

    • Natatia E Oatman

      Andrea, I had to look again to make sure I wasn’t the one who wrote this. This is the point I continue to make every time this conversation comes up.

  • Guest

    Yes, this part of what the CTU president signed onto. The unions have to agree in order for this mandate to become State Law. This is when the CTU should have went on strike. They signed the bill Senate Bill 7 giving up this and much more . Now blame Rham?? Blame Lewis too. After all she was PAID to not let this happen.

  • Rosita Chatonda

    Yes, this part of what the CTU president signed on to. The unions had to agree in order for this mandate to become State Law. This is when the CTU should have went on strike. They signed the union busting bill , Senate Bill 7 giving up this and much more . Now blame Rham?? Blame Lewis too. After all she was PAID to not let this happen.

  • Susan

    I taught in an elementary school the first year of the longer school day and we did not have extended lunch. There was an extra recess but we taught longer hours. By about 2:30 the kids could not focus. They were wiped out. They were also hungry since the kindergarteners ate at 10:30, the first graders at 11 and so on. They got hungry and either zoned out or got wild. I started bringing peanut butter (luckily no one was allergic) and apples and other healthy snacks that I paid for just to keep them going through a long day. There is a point where kids, anyone really, just cannot absorb any more and need to be finished and allowed to decompress.