Parents challenge CPS talking points with Power Point refutation

Parents from schools in Chicago's 19th Ward have issued a 24-page Power Point presentation refuting point-by-point the claims and talking points developed by officials of Chicago Public Schools defending the rush to force a 7.5 hour school day on the city's public schools. The parents' Power Point marks the first time an opposition group has challenged the Brizard administration's use of false and misleading information, couched in Power Point, and was released during the Thursday (March 8) meeting that drew more than 300 people to Morgan Park High School (see related Substance article in this Home Page).

Cover of the 24-page Power Point developed by 19th Ward parents against the 7.5 hour school day. A growing number of individuals and groups are challenging the credibility of every Power Point that has been utilized by the Chicago Board of Education since Jean-Claude Brizard took over as CEO of CPS in June 2011.Additional information is available at the parent's web site —

On March 8 at Morgan Park High School, CPS parent Becky Malone, a member of the group 19th Ward parents, presented extensive research questioning the rationale behind the proposed 7.5-hour school day to a large crowd of parents, teachers and CPS Central Office staff. Her presentation was interrupted by applause from the crowd time and again, as she debunked many CPS claims, questioned the top-down, one-size-fits-all approach, and questioned where, exactly, are the funds for the longer day coming from? Will this mean cuts to programs and staff?

In response to the complaints by parents, CPS "Chief Instruction Officer" Jennifer Cheathem said she was not able to speak publicly about the funding, other than to say schools will get a "lump sum." Cheatham presented the CPS Power Point and talking points and refused to respond to the extensive critique of CPS's credibility.

One of the CPS Power Point slides that enraged parents at the March 8 meeting at Morgan Park High School (above, on the screen) indicated two things. First, CPS has been forcing all schools to provide a "draft" plan for implementing the 7.5 hour school day, despite city-wide protests against the 7.5 hour day. Second, CPS has no plans to adequately fund the Longest School Day, and has been evading all questions from teachers, parents, and students. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.The parents, along with parents from other parts of Chicago, continue to organize in opposition to the current CPS plan, which is being forced on all of the city's elementary and high schools for next school year. The majority of parents want a 6.5 hour school day for their schools, and surveys across the city indicate that there is widespread opposition to the unprecedented 7.5 hour school day in all parts of town. Parents are organizing to protest between now and the March meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, and to speak out at that Board meeting.

The 19th Ward parents group provides the public with a detailed summary of the situation at their website. Below is the main narrative they've presented. (The hotlinks are not available here).

The Mayor’s 7.5 Hour School Day

Dear Parents,

On January 12, 2012, CEO Jean Claude Brizzard announced that next year all Chicago children -- from kindergartners to high school students -- will attend school for 7.5 hours -- the longest school day in the nation by far. The average school day in the U.S. is 6.5 hours.

CPS elementary students will attend school for another 105 minutes daily. High school students -- who already attend classes for 7 hours before sports, clubs, and other extra-curriculars -- will be in school for another 36 minutes. Mr. Brizard also said that children will be in school for 10 more days next year. It is not clear if he means the school year will begin in mid-August, but it could.

Keep in Mind: While all details are not yet available at this point, you should know --

• CPS has not committed to giving schools sustained funding for any new programs.

• CPS has mandated that teachers spend one hour preparing for class and another 45 minutes in a duty-free lunch -- each day. • Teachers cannot teach the children for 1 hour and 45 minutes each day, yet the children still must be supervised. • We may need to lay off teachers in order to pay ancillary staff to watch children during teacher “prep” time. Therefore increasing class size.

Some parents think that larger class sizes are not good for their children. And that 7.5 hours is too long, but that 6.0 to 6.5 hours sounds about right. Here's what you can do.

1.) Sign an online petition at 6.5 to thrive

2.) Join us at Mt. Greenwood School on Tuesday January 24th from 1-3pm in the school lunch room to sign letters and petitions to be sent to Matt O’Shea, State Representatives and taken to the CPS Board Meeting

3.) Email • Mayor Rahm Emanuel

• Michael Madigan, Speaker of the House

• State Sen. Edward Maloney

• Rep. Bill Cunningham

• 19th Ward Alderman Matt O'Shea

• Fran Hurley

4.) Attend the CPS monthly Board of Education Meeting on January 25, 2012 at 125 N. Clark St. 10:30 am.

Some parents want a say in the length of the day and how it is planned and funded. Here's what you can do.

Get informed! Visit the Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education web site. It’s full of great information, and their representatives -- all CPS parents – will call you back.

Raise Your Hand Illinois collaborates with CTU and CPS to make parents’ voices heard. They want to make the school day more effective -- not just add more Reading and Math “seat work,” but with art, physical education, debate club, and special education resource classes -- among other options kids actually enjoy.

Whatever the outcome may be, please keep in mind that your children will continue to receive an excellent education at schools in the Mount Greenwood and Beverly neighborhoods. With the support of our strong community and nurturing parents, coupled with outstanding leadership teams at our local schools, our children will achieve their dreams.

How your children's time is spent is your business, and we urge you to take a few minutes to check out web sites and look into this issue.

How is it that Mayor Rahm Emanuel can simply mandate a 7.5 hour school day?

Because of the influence of a PAC called Stand for Children , which was a staunch supporter of Senate Bill 7. Introduced by Sen. Kim Lightford and co-sponsored by Sen. Edward Maloney, this bill limited teacher tenure and made it more difficult for teachers to strike.

From Catalyst Magazine:

“Senate Bill 7 also gave Chicago school leaders the power to unilaterally lengthen the school day, which had previously been a subject in collective bargaining.

After the bill was passed last year, in a speech in front of the Aspen Institute, Executive Director Josh Jonah Edelman described how his group outfoxed the CTU in getting the bill passed and bragged that the bill would effectively prevent the teachers from ever striking.

Local activists have also been skeptical of Stand for Children because of its supporters. Though the Illinois chapter has not raised much money this year, last year it collected more than $3 million from local deep pockets including Sam Zell, formerly of the Tribune Co., and the Pritzker and Crown families.

(Penny Pritzker was appointed to the Chicago Board of Education by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.)”

What are other school districts doing about a much longer day?

Philadelphia received a $55 million federal School Improvement Grant to fund a much longer school day for 9 persistently low-performing high schools, where the graduation rate was below 50%. The funds provide many supports for deserving students, including optional Saturday morning classes.

Unlike Chicago, Philadelphia did not try to impose a longer day throughout its school system.

For the Petition Six Point Five to Thrive go to the website...


March 24, 2012 at 11:14 AM

By: Kati Gilson

longer school day

Guess what, the parents in Lawndale don't want it either unless we get all the items the union is asking for including art, music, PE, library technology, safety, secrity, etc. They were furious when they found out they want to lengthen the school day without proper compensation for all employees. The comments I hear is "You all aren't paid enough" and "If they make you work longer you should get paid". So wake up Rahm, it's not just the northside and 19th ward parents it's also the westside folks, the ones you don't care about. Our parents are well informed. They want their children to have after school programs, time to spend with their families and friends. Also, if we are working a 7 1/2 hour day with less prep time, PD, etc., the security and PSRPs will be working an even longer day which will cost overtime. The mayor says he wants increased parent involvement then cuts 1/2 day out of report card pick up thus cutting in half the time we can meet with parents. The students will be exhausted, burned out and discipline problems will increase. They are children and should not be forced into an adult work day.

We don't even have official, uniformed security guards in our buildings. Also, no metal detectors. The only thing between the preschool room and some crazy fool with a weapon is a buzzer and air. Makes us feel real safe.

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