Parents and teachers have known for months that Chicago Public Schools will switch to a longer school day this fall. But what that extra time will entail has been a mystery, until now.
Chicago Public Schools on Monday detailed for the first time exactly what the full school day will look like for about 450,000 students come August.
The plan, being presented to principals in a 25-page report, outlines school requirements for the amount of time teachers must spend on each subject, with an emphasis touted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel on reading, math and science.
The guidelines, for example, require 120 minutes of reading and writing for Grades 1-5 and 80 minutes of math for Grades 3-8.
Recess also makes its return. At elementary schools, students will receive 45 minutes for recess and lunch, a jump from the current 20 minutes available for lunch only.
That leaves six-and-a-half hours of instruction time during the new 7.5-hour day. Students at most public schools currently are in class a total of five hours and 45 minutes.
“These guidelines will ensure that all schools provide students with the time they need in reading, math, science and other key subjects to drive their academic success,” said schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard. “The Full School Day ... will ensure that all students receive a higher quality education to better prepare them for college and career.”
Chicago has the shortest day among the country's largest cities, Brizard said. The longer day puts schools on par with the national average.
Since Emanuel and Brizard proposed a longer day, 13 CPS and 37 charter schools implemented the extra time.
It didn't come without controversy, though. The Chicago Teachers Union sued the school board, claiming it coerced union-represented teachers into voting for the longer day. CTU president Karen Lewis has criticized the board for rushing through the extra time without properly planning for it.
The CTU must sign a teacher's contract that includes the longer day. The union made its first proposals last week.