Longer Day Begins for More Schools

Another batch of Chicago schools that agreed to a longer school day got their 90 extra minutes Monday. And CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard says kids are ... excited?

"I love seeing the excitement" on children's faces as the longer day begins, Brizard said Monday.

Well, whatever the looks on their faces, about 22,000 kids from 40 schools, including Melody and Mays Academy as well as 37 charter schools, will have longer days from now on.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel told parents and reporters at Mays Academy that these students now have more potential thanks to the longer day.

"Next year all our kids will have a full day," he said. 

The schools received $75,000 for agreeing to 90 extra minutes ahead of the fall, when all CPS schools will implement a "full school day" focused on core subjects. Teachers at the schools each received an $800 stipend.

The longer day hasn't been an easy sell, though.

The Chicago Teachers Union sued the board of education in September, accusing the board of coercing CTU-represented teachers into waiving their labor rights and voting in favor of lengthening the school day.

CTU representatives repeatedly argued that Emanuel and the school board rushed into the 90 extra minutes that union reps say need to be carefully planned.

But Emanuel pointed to test scores and Chicago's low ranking among major cities for amount of time students spend in the classroom, and said class time needs to be expanded right away.

Brizard said Monday he won't negotiate in the press whether teachers will be compensated for the longer day.

Meanwhile, the CTU says parents have been told to start taking their kids out of Guggenheim School, one of two elementary schools set to close by the end of the year.

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