Keeping students in school longer will benefit their education and keep them safer, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday during a town hall with students from 15 area middle schools.
At a forum at Malcolm X College on the city's near west side, the Chicago Public School students asked questions of the next mayor regarding safety, how he'll be different from outgoing Mayor Richard Daley and how he plans to improve the city's dropout rate.
In return, Emanuel asked each student who posed a question how long their school day currently is. Answers varied, from less than six hours to a full nine hours. Students seemed to be amazed at hearing some of the longer times.
"The data shows that the longer you stay in the classroom learning, you'll learn more and you'll be safer. The length of the school day is essential, and we have not extended ours in over a decade," said Emanuel.
The mayor-elect also said he'd like to see schools display college pennants of where its students have gone.
"I want those pennants on the wall... in a culture of expectation," he said.
Emanuel also stressed the importance of public service, urging students to give back to their communities at some point in their lives. That could entail careers in law enforcement or teaching, or working on a campaign or running for office, he said, listing examples.
"The best way to learn something about yourself is doing something for others," he said.