However, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said she would decline an invitation to serve on the committee, saying in a written statement that “this news has nothing do with helping our children and everything to do with politicizing a real serious problem.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel began pushing for a longer school day while he was on the campaign trail, saying Chicago’s school day is the shortest in the nation when compared to public school systems in nine other large cities. School reform legislation passed in June allows the district to implement a longer school day in the fall of 2012 with or without the union’s agreement, and CPS officials have said they would do that.
Chicago Teachers Union officials have said they want to be compensated for a longer day and have called for a “better school day” as opposed to a lengthened one.
But not all teachers have been opposed to the effort.
Jackie MenoniÖ, 27, has been teaching for four years at South Loop Elementary School. She says she’d like to be compensated for working a longer day but it’s not a deal-breaker.
“Most teachers are coming in early and staying late and they’re not being compensated,” she said. “I’ve been involved in programs after school, before school and in the summer, and I see a huge difference that extended hours make for kids.”
CPS officials said much of the extra time will be used for reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Students will also be given more time for physical education, art, music, and library time, and the longer day will include recess. Teachers will also be given more time to plan and collaborate.
The district will be training schools for longer school days starting as early as this September.
In the meantime, the district is launching an advisory committee made up parents, teachers, students, faith leaders and community groups. The committee will offer recommendations on the extended day’s structure and how it will be implemented.
Committee members will also include: Brian Brady of Mikva Challenge, Dr. Byron Brazier of the Apostolic Church of God, Celine Coggins of Teach Plus, Sarah Cobb of Neighborhood Parents Network, Guillermo Gomez of The Healthy Schools Campaign, Timothy Knowles of the Urban Education Institute, Karen Lewis from the Chicago Teachers Union, Phyllis Locket of New Schools for Chicago, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina’s Church, Juan Soto of Pilsen Neighbors Community Council , Alderman Latasha Thomas, Robin Steans of Advance Illinois, Senator Kimberly Lightford.
The district is looking at best practices in the city and nationwide. Officials will be working with parents, teachers and principals through focus groups to gain feedback on how the school day should be structured. CPS has blamed lower state standardized test scores for both elementary schools and high schools on the shortened day. They’ve also pointed to successes at charter schools that have longer days. And they’ve highlighted research in support of the longer day.
On Tuesday, CPS officials said an Illinois teacher survey found 69 percent of teachers believe they do not have sufficient instructional time to meet the needs of all of their students.
“Having the shortest school day in the nation puts teachers and students at a disadvantage and it’s time that we provided both with the tools they need to drive student success in the classroom,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “A longer day will give our teachers the time they need to better prepare our students for college and career readiness and allow them to plan as a group in order to benefit all of their students.”