Chi Students Go Back to School This Week

"It's horrible. I wish I could still be in the bed, sleeping."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Almost 100,000 public school students return to the classroom this week

    While some kids are splashing in the water at the beach, others are breaking out the books.

    Nearly 90,000 students at 132 Chicago Public Schools head back to school this week, part of a big push to get kids to go to school year-round.  

    Shortened Summer, Back to School a "Mindset Change"

    [CHI] Shortened Summer, Back to School a "Mindset Change"
    Nearly 90,000 students at 132 Chicago Public Schools headed back to school this week, part of a big push to get kids to go to school year-round. (Published Tuesday, Aug 11, 2009)

    "It's horrible.  I wish I could still be in the bed, sleeping," said one student from Amelia Earhart Elementary on the south side.  Others were glad to be back with their friends.

    Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Humberman called it a "mindset change" and said the goal is to eventually get all schools on board.  He joked that now some students will have to think about going back to school after the annual Bud Billiken Day Parade rather than Labor Day.

    The programs currently are voluntary, a decision made by individual school leaders and parents.  Sixty new schools were added this year and Huberman hopes 60 more will jump on board next year.  He said it offers a continuous learning cycle.  On Monday, the school touted a 97.14 percent attendance rate despite the abrupt end of summer for its students.

    Teacher Amanda Petrowsky said the shortened summer gives them a chance to hit the ground running because kids retain more information.  School officials also point out that test score gains in math and reading are higher than the district average.

    The number of schooldays is the same -- 170 -- but in Track E schools as they're called, students have a shorter summer but get three longer breaks during the year:  two weeks in the fall, three around the holidays, and two more in the spring. All schools end on the same day in June.

    Parents have mixed reviews.

    Shamara Smith said the move is "great" and is pleased that her son won't be home watching TV all day.

    But, Lola Sholanke, who teaches high school on a traditional schedule, worries now that her son is on Track E it will disrupt her family's schedule. 

    Ald. Michelle Harris' (8th) children attend  Amelia Earhart School.  She was on hand for the bell-ringing and said  this new track is also safer for kids to keep them off the hot and dangerous summer streets.

    There are over 400,000 public school students in Chicago and this year nearly a quarter of them are on this new year round schedule.