Chicago Public School System Announces Guidelines for Longer School Days

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According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Public School system has issued guidelines that detail what the longer school days are to consist of. The plan includes mandatory recess for all elementary schools, as well as an additional 54 minutes of instructional classroom time for elementary students and 46 minutes of instructional time for high school students. WGN News added most grade schools will devote two hours to reading and writing, 60 to 80 minutes on math, 40 to 60 minutes on science and 30 to 40 minutes on social studies.

Here are some facts on Chicago's efforts implement longer school days:

* The Chicago Tribune reported that in June, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a major education reform bill into law that set the stage for a drastic overhaul of the education system in the state, specifically giving districts more power to remove ineffective teachers and making the school day longer.

* For several years, public schools in Chicago had one of the nation's shortest school days and following the new law, CPS began discussing how to extend instructional time and the school year.

* Throughout his campaign last year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stood behind education reforms and noted that lengthening the school day was one major reform he would seek as mayor, reported the Huffington Post.

* Before the school day changes, Chicago's average school day was from 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. although some schools operated on a schedule of 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

* Two months after the law went into effect, CPS officials announced their plans for adding 90 minutes more to each school day and two more weeks to the school year, according to the Associated Press.

* The decision to implement a longer day was not met without opposition from the teachers' union, which filed a lawsuit against 13 schools that had decided to go against the union and vote for the longer school day in exchange for financial support from the city, added Fox News.

* In November the city and the union agreed the city would stop trying to negotiate with individual schools after evidence indicated that the city was using unfair labor practices to negotiate and both sides agreed to work together over the longer school days.

* With teachers' contracts set to expire at the end of the school year, the city and the union will be set to find an agreement for the 2012-2013 school year.

* In October, Mayor Emanuel and charter school operators announced Chicago charter schools would also participate in the longer school day, a move the city was helping support through grant funding and additional teach stipends.

* City funding is being made available to about 42 charter schools and the lengthened instruction time would impact approximately 11,360 students in these types of schools.

* Another article from the Huffington Post reported that starting Jan. 9, 40 public schools joined 38 charter schools in beginning the longer school day.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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