Mayor Emanuel, CPS Agree to Scale Back Longer School Day

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According to CBS Chicago, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office announced today he and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard have agreed to shorten the proposed longer school day for elementary students. The initial plan was to keep all students in class for 7 1/2 hours a day but now only high school students will be kept in class for that long. Elementary students will see their school day shortened to seven hours a day. The changes were made after Mayor Emanuel met with parent groups.

Here are some facts about the debate.

* Parent groups, including the Chicago Parents for Quality Education coalition, looked at the studies CPS cited in its reasoning for lengthening the school day and the groups said the results were mixed, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

* On Monday, numerous parents arrived at Mayor Emanuel's office and demanded a meeting while delivering a paper that argued CPS ignored other education improvements like reduced class size and early childhood education.

* The Chicago Tribune reported not only have parents and community members questioned the effectiveness of a longer school day, they are also questioning how the district will fund the extra time, especially since CPS is facing a huge budget deficit.

* CPS officials and the mayor have stood behind adding 90 minutes to the school day, noting it will help in neighborhoods where schools are falling behind in educational quality while keeping children out of trouble.

* The Chicago Teachers Union has also debated the plans, namely over how CPS would compensate teachers for their additional work, according to Fox News Chicago.

* Late last month, the school district settled a CTU lawsuit by negotiating that teachers will get $1,500 in extra pay for working the longer school day, which is slated to begin next school year.

* The Chicago Sun-Times reported the CTU applauded the mayor's decision to scale back the school day through discussing the issue with parents but asserted it is not a complete compromise.

* The CTU still supports shortening the day to 6 1/2, putting CPS on part with the average school day in classrooms across Illinois.

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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