Thursday, September 15, 2011

School council in Lakeview debates longer school day

This almost related to what was discussed at yesterday's Bennett-Shedd LSC meeting. It wasn't on the agenda really, but the issue of a longer school day came up. It doesn't appear that any LSC member made a stand on that issue.

The principal didn't take a stand either other than to raise her concerns such as safety. One could say soon the schools will not only serve breakfast and lunch but they may serve dinner. Therefore if the school day ends later what's going to happen when the student is out by themselves at night and no one is able to pick them up from school. Something to consider.

Here's the Tribune article:
Although teachers at Agassiz Elementary School in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood have already said they oppose a longer school day, the local school council held an emergency meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the issue with parents.

Like similar discussions at other schools, the debate at Agassiz was wide-ranging. Some parents supported the longer day, arguing that it helps teachers and parents. Others said Mayor Rahm Emanuel's offer of incentives is merely a political effort to break the strength of the Chicago Teachers Union.

“I want you to think about it,” Ingrid Kromer, a member of the local school council, told teachers at the school. “It's one school year of making a sacrifice. It's taking a little risk so we can have some extra money.”

The school’s teachers have informally rejected working a longer day. But they have yet to hold a formal vote on the issue.

Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard have promised $150,000 in discretionary money for schools ready to start a longer day this month and a $1,250 bonus for each of those teachers. Schools ready to start in January would gain $75,000, and their teachers each would receive an $800 bonus.

But some parents at Agassiz said the school should reject the money. They were willing to raise the necessary funds.

“This just seems like CPS is trying to put money out there to turn people against each other,” said Julie Rakay, parent of a kindergartner and an incoming pre-schooler. “I'd rather send my kids to a school that stands with its union. My kids’ well-being is directly related to their teachers' well-being.”

Some felt any effort to add 90 minutes this month was too rushed. Others asked for a compromise, such as a longer school day in January.

So far, teachers at seven schools across the city have voted for the additional instruction time for students.
The Bennett-Shedd LSC meeting discussed making a transfer of funds to make a 25% match to a grant provided by T-Mobile for after school programs. They could easily make that money through the extra discretionary funds if they went to a longer school day if not now perhaps next year in time for the 3rd marking period.

This year it's only optional but it looks like Mayor Emanuel and CPS will make it mandatory next year. What do you think about a 90 minute school day? Will it be beneficial or do you think it doesn't matter how much time a student spends in school each day?

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