SUBSCRIPT: 'Pioneer' parents now opposing Rahm's Longest School Day

Less than half a year after their schools and teachers accepted the highly publicized bribes to become "pioneers" of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to push the Longest School Day on Chicago's public elementary schools, some parents from the 13 schools that agreed to the deal in September 2011 are now resisting it.

The rumblings of disagreement began to be heard at meeting of the Chicago Board of Education as early as December 2011, while CPS was still hailing the 13 elementary schools that had joined the Longer School Day push as "pioneers." Parents began speaking out, noting that a school day of 7.5 hours would in many cases be developmentally inappropriate for small children. By February 2012, some of them had formed a group calling itself "Pioneer Parents..." to oppose the Longest School Day.

By the beginning of 2012, parents opposition to the mayor's proposals was growing across Chicago, while the handful of supporters who would publicly praise the mayor's program was shrinking, especially after massive media exposure of the "Rent A Protesters" at the January 6 and January 20 hearings on school closings. Most of the visible support for the Longest School Day in September and October 2011 came from paid protesters. The only support registered in public from outside that group came from the highest paid supports of the Longest School Day of all — the principals of the 13 "Pioneer" schools.

Check the Facts

Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Brizard state that the full school day of 7.5 hours will put CPS on par with the national average for length of the school day. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (and cited on CPS’ Full Day website), the average length of the school day for the nation is 6.6 hours, with an average of 6.2 hours of instructional time per day.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said, “Our students today are competing against children in India and China. Those students are going to school 25 to 30 percent longer than we are. Our students, I think, are at a competitive disadvantage.”

A recent report by the Center for Public Education shows that elementary students in India have 800 instructional hours in a year, Japan 868 instructional hours, Korea 867 instructional hours, and China has similar instructional hours. CPS students have 877 instructional hours with a 5.75 hour day.

CPS’ Full Day website states that a longer day is needed to reduce the achievement gap, and that the city’s low graduation rate of 57.5% is evidence that kids need a longer school day. However, according to the 2011 Illinois District Report Card for the City of Chicago School District 299, the graduation rate was 73.8%.

Illinois State Board of Education, 2011 Illinois District Report Card, page 3.

“The National Center on Time and Learning’s report, Time Well Spent, offers an in-depth examination of 30 expanded-time schools serving high-poverty populations with impressive track records of student success, and demonstrates how these schools leverage their additional time in order to implement other critical reforms.”

-CPS’ Full School Day website

The report outlines eight keys to success when implementing a longer school day that are critical to a program’s success, which including the following:

1. Make every minute count

2. Prioritize time according to focused learning goals

3. Individualize learning time and instruction based on student needs

4. Use time to build a school culture of high expectations and mutual accountability

5. Use time to provide a well-rounded education

6. Use time to prepare students for college and career

7. Use time to continuously strengthen instruction

8. Use time to relentlessly assess, analyze, and respond to student data

Although CPS cites this report as evidence that the longer day works, CPS has failed to discuss how it plans to implement even a single one of the practices outlined in the report.

Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded Time Schools. Claire Caplan & Roy Chan, September 30, 2011.

The Time Well Spent study also outlines the number of hours per year spent in school at selected high-performing, expanded time schools. The average number of hours per year was 1467.5. With CPS’ extremely short school year of 170 days, that average translates to 8.6 hours per day. Clearly, these schools are not achieving such outstanding results with an extended school day alone, but rather with a school year that is longer than 170 days.

Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded Time Schools. Claire Caplan & Roy Chan, September 30, 2011.

No large school district in the country has attempted to implement a longer day across the entire district at one time. Massachusetts, which CPS regularly cites as a shining example of a successful longer school day, was able to effectively implement its expanded learning time initiative thanks to a $6.5 million appropriation from the Massachusetts Legislature. The appropriation was used to fund the expanded learning time initiative at 10 urban schools serving a total of 4,693 students. On average, Massachusetts spent approximately $1385 per student to implement the longer day. For the 405,000 CPS students, the total estimated cost would be about $561 million.

The Massachusetts Expanding Learning Time to Support Student Success Initiative,

Hilary Pennington, Center for American Progress, January 2007, pages 28-29.

The Laboratory for Student Success reviewed literature on two kinds of extended time programs: extending the day and extending the year. “The consensus was that although extended time in school might have non-instructional benefits, there was little evidence that it would elevate the level of student achievement. The extreme expense of such changes is also prohibitive.”

Extended School Day/Year Programs: A Research Synthesis. William Evans & David Bechtel, Laboratory for Student Success, 1997.

“Research studies show that there is no consistent relationship between the amount of time allocated for instruction and the amount of time that students spend engaged in learning activities. …in fact, increasing the length of the school day or year might not lead to any increase at all in the amount of time students are engaged in learning.”

Improving Student Achievement by Extending School: Is It Just a Matter of Time? Julie Aronson, Joy Zimmerman, and Lisa Carlos, WestEd, April 1998, page 3.

Decades of research on the link between time and learning reveals that allocated time (or just extending the school day without restructuring it to use time more effectively for engaged academic learning time) alone does not improve student achievement.

“The literature on time and learning, spanning at least three decades…reveals a fairly consistent pattern of little or no relationship between allocated time and student achievement…”

Making Time Count. WestEd Policy Brief, May 2001, page 1.

Children between the ages of five and twelve need 10 – 11 hours of sleep each night. Furthermore, poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, and cognitive problems that impact children’s ability to learn in school. Research also shows that insufficient sleep can lead to a variety of health problems, such as obesity, hypertension, and depression. With a 7.5-hour school day, most of our city’s kids will experience the following:

10 hours of sleep

7.5 hours of school

2 hours of getting ready for and commuting to school

1 hour of homework

1 hour for meals

That leaves only 2.5 hours per day for after school and extra-curricular activities, unstructured free time, and family time.

Children and Sleep, National Sleep Foundation.

Myths and Facts about Sleep, National Sleep Foundation.


March 3, 2012 at 7:25 PM

By: Bob Busch

Board's new high school program shows Board has no idea what it's doing next year

Next year

This is the current and proposed schedule for a large CPS general high school next year .

Current Schedule

Start Time End Time Length

Period 1 7:50 AM• 8:36 AM 46 min

Period 2 .8:40 AM 9:26 AM 46 min

Period 3 9:30 AM 10:16 AM . 46 min

Period 4 10:20 AM 11:06 AM 46 min,

Period 5 11:10 AM 11:56 AM 46 min

Period 6 12:00 PM 12:46 PM 46 min

Period 7 12:50 PM 1:36 PM 46 min

Period 8 1:40 PM 2:26 PM 46 min

Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday next year

Period Start Time End Time

1(46) 7:50 8:36

2(46) 8:41 9:27

(48) Intervention 9:32 10:20

3(46) 10:25 11:11

4(46) 11:16 12:02

5(46) 12:07 12:53

6(46) 12:58 1:44

7(46) 1:49 2:34

8(46) 2:39 3:25

Teachers(460) 7:45 3:25

Both have only 8 periods of instruction ,both have 46 min. periods. The difference is the 48 min. Intervention period tucked in between second and third periods. This new period has no number. In the tradition of Board bull____, what is going to be taught during this period? Is it a period at all?

This should show everybody the Board has no idea what to do next year. Some foolish people believed they would add an extra enrichment period .

March 4, 2012 at 3:07 PM

By: Sarah Loftus

HS Day


March 4, 2012 at 7:07 PM

By: Bob Busch

Chicago's High School Day


It sure does. And before that it was called Division — the Board's answer to what everybody

calls homeroom. What is not going to be is an elective class available to students on request.

By scamming the world into believing a longer school day will improve schools this will allow the status quo without paying for additional faculty to enrich the already criminally anemic curriculum.

March 7, 2012 at 9:02 AM

By: Maureen Cullnan

7.5 hour school day / long year

Maureen Cullnan

Forum on longer school day this Thursday, 7 pm, at Morgan Park H.S.

A community forum on the unfunded 7.5 hour school day is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Morgan Park High School, 1744 W. Pryor Ave. in Chicago.

CPS officials have proposed lengthening the school day to 7 1/2 hours. But many 19th Ward residents believe there shouldn’t be a districtwide mandate.

Forum organizers said CPS representatives are expected to be on hand.

Concerned parents are asked to submit questions ahead of time by emailing or visiting

Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th ward) is hosting the forum.

For more information, visit

Sun-Times Media

Chicago Parents Against the 7.5 hour day

We are a group of parents in Chicago that feel the proposed 7.5 hr school day is too extreme.

March 13, 2012 at 7:18 PM

By: Jennifer Gladfelter

Pioneer Parents Article

Hi George -

Thanks for shedding light on the fact that not all parents with children at Pioneer schools are happy with the longer day, despite what our principals and CPS have said recently. The correct name of our group is Concerned Pioneer Parents for a Better School Day. Our goal is to gather the voices of pioneer parents opposed to the 7.5 hour school day and are rather in favor of a 6.5/7.0 hour day that is funded and well-planned. Thanks for including information from our "Check the Facts" section of our website, which can be found at:

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